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NBA preview and tips: Boston Celtics at Sacramento Kings

Boston Celtics (49-23), who have earned all sorts of plaudits this season, visit an improving Sacramento Kings (43-28) who can almost match that record after a better season than many predicted.

The Kings' offence averages 124 points per game at home, but defence is not their forte. Whilst we know the Celtics are more potent at home, they still average 115 points per game (ppg) on their travels and allow close to 113 ppg.
The total has been set at 238 points for this game which could be seen as tempting depending on how you analyse things. Boston have started to trend over on the road, whilst the Kings just lost 128-120 to lowly Utah, but did beat the Wizards 132-118.
You also can't ignore the fact that the Kings have seen 22 of 34 games go over the total at the Golden 1 Center, but equally, let's note that the Celtics are 13-23 in favour of the under on their travels.
Nine of the last 10 games between the sides have seen 226 combined points or less, with several dipping below the 220- mark more recently. The Kings barely rank in the top 10 for pace, whilst the Celtics sit down in 18th.

This could be a very competitive game that could well prove to be high-scoring. Sacramento won't roll over, but bearing in mind their more recent exertions, we're willing to bet tired legs late in the game could aid the Celtics.

Boston come into this one with a few injury doubts and those are important to the total, because whoever takes to the court will dictate whether Boston go small and play what will be a faster, more offensive game.
Several trends suggest the game could sneak under, but it's such a tough one to call. A 110-105 scoreline wouldn't shock me any more than 125-120, so let's avoid the temptation to bet on the over.
Boston have won the last three meetings between the sides by 18, 29, and 53, but they haven't come up against an improved Kings side who have won 21 of 35 at home.
Boston are a solid 23-14 on the road, but a little patchy against the spread, and are 18-18 ATS on their travels.
Should these teams meet on a neutral court then there's no doubt that the Celtics are the much more complete team, and there is a mitigating factor that lessens the Kings' home advantage this time around.
Boston are playing on two days of rest here, and although their ATS record in this spot is poor, we have to acknowledge that Sacramento played just last night in Utah.
The tricky thing about playing in Utah is that you're essentially a mile above sea level. We know that extreme altitude gives a big advantage to the home side who are used to competing in it, particularly in terms of endurance.
The Kings struggled with the pace early in that game, losing the first quarter 19-40. They got to grips with things and had levelled it up by the end of the third, but they faded at the end and went on to lose the game by eight points.
Turning around and flying back home to face a fresh Celtics who might opt to push the pace in the circumstances presents quite the challenge. Tired teams tend not to play good defence, and as strong as the Kings are on offence, they do allow a lot of points.
Boston are a solid 14-3 ATS against teams winning 60 per cent or better of their games this season, and they've won 11 of their last 15 against the Kings.
Sacramento have done well on no rest, but this is a more unique situation. They're 1-5 ATS against teams with a winning road record, and 1-8 ATS against teams winning 60 per cent or better of their games. They're also 8-17 ATS as a home underdog of 5-10 points.

Suggested bet

Boston Celtics -4.5

The action gets under way at 20:00 PST (22:00 EST, 02:00am UK time)

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