How Boston’s 3-point defence could impact NBA Finals betting - Fix Bdsthanhhoavn

How Boston’s 3-point defence could impact NBA Finals betting

The Boston Celtics were seen as a good team rather than an NBA Finals threat entering the season. According to Basketball-Reference, Boston’s preseason odds sat at +4000, with oddsmakers giving 12 teams a better shot of winning it all.

While the Celtics aren’t entering Game 1 against the Golden State Warriors as the favourite, a tightly contested series is expected, and they’re by no means out of their depth. Any team that sweeps the Kevin Durant-Kyrie Irving combo and then takes down the last two winners of the Eastern Conference ought to be taken seriously.

In Boston’s case, the primary reason why is defence. During the regular season, the Celtics were the toughest team to score (103.9 points per game) and shoot against (43.4%).

In the playoffs, they’ve been the slightest bit stingier on both counts (101.0 points per game and 43.3% shooting against).

Read more: Celtics vs. Warriors series preview

The driving force behind the Celtics’ defensive success is their switchability, which creates a scenario where there’s no weak link for opponents to attack — and no player who consistently finds themselves totally outclassed by opponents far larger or faster than they are.

Here are the listed heights and weights of Boston’s top-seven players by minutes played in the playoffs:

Player Height Weight
Al Horford 6’9″ 240 lbs
Robert Williams III 6’8″ 237 lbs
Jayson Tatum 6’8″ 210 lbs
Grant Williams 6’6″ 236 lbs
Jaylen Brown 6’6″ 223 lbs
Derrick White 6’4″ 190 lbs
Marcus Smart 6’3″ 220 lbs

That length, strength and versatility has frustrated offences all year. The Celtics’ lack of a lumbering big man also means they do a great job of contesting 3-pointers, holding opponents to the lowest percentage in the NBA during the regular season (33.5%) and improving in the playoffs (31.7%).

Those numbers in particular could be concerning to a Warriors team that’s famous for its long-range barrages.

NBA Finals betting: How Boston’s D impacts props

While pedigree, star power and the offensive brilliance of the Warriors are not things worth questioning, it’s possible they’ve run into an extremely inconvenient matchup.

Like most teams in the NBA, the Warriors are getting progressively more reliant on 3-point shooting to succeed, and their top players are more dangerous from behind the arc than down low.

Golden State’s record in NBA Finals doesn’t negatively correlate with its opponents’ 3-point defence perfectly, but there’s something of a pattern.

NBA Season Percentage of Warriors pts on 3-pointers NBA Rank Opponent’s Rank vs. 3-pointers Finals Result
2014-15 32.6% 2nd 3rd Win
2015-16 39.1% 1st 13th Loss
2016-17 36.3% 4th 17th Win
2017-18 33.8% 7th 16th Win
2018-19 39.1% 3rd 5th Loss
2021-22 42.6% 2nd 1st ?

In the Steph Curry era, Golden State has always been heavily reliant on 3-pointers. That’s more true than ever before and this is the best perimeter defence the team has faced in the NBA Finals.

Although the Warriors overcame an elite 3-point defence in 2014-15, their offence was far less driven by shots from beyond the arc than it is today.

Read more: Game 1 Celtics vs. Warriors picks

A team that got 32.6% of its points from 3-pointers in 2021-22 would rank 28th in the NBA, which shows just how much the game has changed.

It’s also worth noting that Curry didn’t have his best series in 2014-15, shooting 44.3% overall and 38.5% from deep — leading to Andre Iguodala winning Finals MVP.

When Curry saw the other elite 3-point defence on this list — the Toronto Raptors in 2018-19 — he also struggled, hitting 34.3% of his threes and 41.4% of his total shots.

There’s no smoking gun here — and a bet on Golden State is justified by all the team has accomplished — but it’s worth considering if there’s good value on a favourite whose greatest strength will face its greatest challenge.

How to approach Steph Curry props

Curry’s ability to make it rain from downtown is beyond reproach, but if there’s any team that can slow down his shooting brilliance it’s this Celtics squad.

That begins with Marcus Smart. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year is an absolute menace on the ball. He’s one of the few players with the speed, motor and tenacity to follow Curry’s off-ball actions whenever Boston opts not to switch.

No one is capable of erasing Curry entirely, but it’s impressive that Smart has held the Warriors legend to 29% shooting when he’s the closest defender.

The task of holding down Curry’s beyond-the-arc assaults won’t rest on Smart alone, but the switchable Celtics have had success with him this year. The sharpshooting Curry shot 6-of-18 from long range in two meetings versus Boston.

Considering 43.4% of the two-time MVP’s points have come on 3-point shots during the postseason, it’s fair to expect the stiff competition Boston provides could drive his point totals down slightly in this series.

Curry seems like a lock for an explosion game or two by virtue of his unique shooting talent, but hitting the under on his 3-pointers made and points should be profitable throughout this series — especially considering the gaudy lines generally attached to him.

How to approach Klay Thompson props

Thompson probably won’t have to tangle with Smart as much as Curry will, but he’ll have his own outside shooting worries against Boston.

He’ll have a variety of Celtics in his face when he’s pulling up, but his most frequent foes project to be Boston’s star wing players and 6-foot-4 guard Derrick White.

That’s not good news for Thompson’s ability to drain threes.

Player Regular-season defensive 3pt% Playoff defensive 3pt%
Jayson Tatum 33.1% 20.9%
Derrick White 33.3% 18.6%
Jaylen Brown 34.5% 37.5%

While Brown hasn’t been quite as good as the other two, the group has been cumulatively spectacular on their closeouts.

Read more: Game 1 Celtics vs. Warriors prop picks

After missing two seasons to an Achilles injury, the other Splash Brother has become more reliant on 3-pointers than ever.

Season Percentage of points from 3-pointers
2011-12 40.3%
2012-13 46.6%
2013-14 44.9%
2014-15 42.9%
2015-16 46.8%
2016-17 46.2%
2017-18 47.0%
2018-19 43.0%
2021-22 52.5%

Thompson simply doesn’t have the same explosion as he used to considering his age (32) and injury history. He hasn’t become solely a spot-up shooter, but this is the first season that he’s attempted more 3-pointers than two-point shots, a pattern that’s continued in the playoffs.

That’s a tough way to make a living against these Celtics.

Thompson only faced them once during the regular season, but on that occasion he went 1-for-11 on 3-point shots.

Just like with Curry, hitting Thompson’s unders on 3-pointers made and points seems like a good call throughout the NBA Finals — and betting against Klay might not cause the same sense of dread as wagering against the best shooter of all time.


Nick Ashbourne writes about sports betting for NorthStar Bets. NorthStar Bets is owned by NordStar Capital, which also owns Torstar, the Star’s parent company. Follow him on Twitter: @NickAshbourne

Disclaimer This content was produced as part of a partnership and therefore it may not meet the standards of impartial or independent journalism.

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