Celtics vs Kings Picks and Predictions: Sacramento Can't Handle Boston's Offensive Intensity

Sacramento and Boston will meet in Sactown tonight, both looking to improve their playoff seeding. With the Kings defensive woes intensifying since the All-Star break, our NBA betting picks are eyeing the Celtics' team total.

Last Updated: Mar 21, 2023 2:12 PM ET Read Time: 4 min
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Basketball bettors get a possible NBA Finals preview with the Boston Celtics visiting the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday evening.

Boston puts a six-game road trip to bed in Sacramento, having gone 3-2 straight up and 2-3 against the spread in the five games prior, most recently losing at Utah as a 4.5-point favorite. The Kings are also coming off a loss at Salt Lake City, falling 128-120 to the Jazz last night, and now have a quick turnaround to take on one of the top teams in the East at home.

I dig into the point spread and Over/Under total for this high-powered non-conference clash and give my best NBA picks and predictions for the Celtics vs. Kings on March 21.

Celtics vs Kings best odds

Celtics vs Kings picks and predictions

While Tuesday’s tilt could serve as a look into the future as a potential championship pairing, don’t expect playoff-like intensity from either defense tonight.

Sacramento’s defensive ineptitude was on full display against Utah last night, allowing the Jazz to score 128 points without their All-Star Lauri Markkanen in the lineup. Utah poured in 40 first-quarter points and enjoyed a 52% success rate from the field.

The Kings had shown some slight defensive improvements during that recent road trip, but those lower scores had more to do with the level of competition. They faced pop-gun attacks like Chicago (114), Brooklyn (96) and Washington (118), but Boston brings a much more dangerous offense to Sactown tonight.

The Celtics have been inconsistent on both ends of the floor during their post-break swoon but the offense has flexed its muscles during this current road trip and two days off allows Boston to rest and reflect, taking on a Kings defense that’s playing with heavy legs after an energy-sapping game at a high altitude in Salt Lake City last night.

Sacramento could be especially susceptible to the 3-ball if it’s a step slow to close out on shooters this evening. Boston has attempted more than 43 triples per game in the first five stops of this road trip, knocking down an average of 16.2 per outing (37.3%).

On the season, the Kings allow opponent to shoot 37.5% inside their own arena (27th) for an average of almost 13 triples against per game. They’ve been extra lax defending from long range this month, with foes burying 14.5 threes an outing.

Given Sacramento’s firepower and offensive pace, this game could quickly turn into a track meet. The Celtics have the green light to launch from beyond the arc from head coach Joe Mazzulla, who loves to see his team taking triples in bulk.

Boston recently played in Portland against a Trail Blazers team that, much like the Kings, ranks near the bottom in most defensive metrics and allows plenty of 3-pointers. The Celtics scored 126 points on 47% shooting while going 15-for-42 from distance. I like them to cross the 122-point mark tonight.

My best bet: Boston Celtics team total Over 121.5 (-115 at bet365)

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Celtics vs Kings spread analysis

Bookmakers opened this showdown between two of the league’s top teams with Sacramento as low as a 3.5-point home underdog.

With the Kings having to play on Monday in Utah and travel overnight back to Sacramento following a loss, the market has moved toward Boston, with the spread swelling as big as Celtics -5 early Tuesday afternoon.

Boston will have the fresh legs, having lost in Salt Lake City on Saturday. That extended break in action and life away from the spotlight of home may be just what Joe Mazzulla’s team needs to snap out of its post-break funk. The Celtics are 7-6 SU in the 13 games since the All-Star hiatus, burning backers with a 5-8 ATS mark in those contests.

Inconsistent efforts on the defensive end have been the biggest blemish for Boston in that span, watching its defensive rating faceplant from No. 4 (110.6) pre-break to 14th (113.9) since the annual showcase. The lineup does get an injection of energy on both ends with center Robert Williams expected to play his first game since March 3 tonight.

Sacramento hit a bit of a speed bump in Utah last night, coming out flat in a potential lookahead to this marquee matchup. The Kings, who lost for just the third time since the All-Star break, were outscored 40-19 by the Jazz in the opening quarter and couldn’t complete the comeback despite leading by two with less than three minutes remaining.

Sacramento returns to the Golden 1 Center where it boasts a net rating of +5.0 on the year. It has played only six home games since the break and Tuesday’s battle with Boston will be just the team’s second stop in Sactown in its last seven. Overall, the Kings are 17-17-1 ATS at home on the year, including a 5-4 ATS count as home pups.

Celtics vs Kings Over/Under analysis

Tuesday’s total opened at 238.5 points and has ticked up to as high as 239.5, with that number bouncing around 239 and the original total at some books.

The Kings, of course, lay claim to the NBA’s top offensive metrics, leading the way in advanced rating and points per game, with that output ticking up to 124.2 per home stand. Defensively, Sacramento isn’t as sharp and has been even worse since the break — allowing an average of almost 120 points against in its 10 games this month.

Bookies haven’t been shy about piling on the points as it pertains to Sacramento’s nightly totals, leaving the team to go 36-34-1 O/U on the season. However, those tall totals haven’t been enough to counter that downtrodden defense in recent weeks, with the Kings rolling to a 9-4-1 Over/Under record since the All-Star pause.

Boston has the horses to exploit that soft defense, and while it’s been equally as inconsistent on the offensive end, the Celtics are still averaging almost 117 points per contest during this second-half slump.

That offense has been the highlight of this current road trip, with the team upping its offensive rating to 119.9 the past five games against some porous opponents in Utah, Portland, Minnesota, Houston, and Atlanta.

That’s produced a 3-2 O/U mark in those games vs. some totals on the taller end of the scale (went Over 233, 234.5 and 238.5). Since the break, Boston has produced a 7-6 O/U count and is 14-22-1 O/U as a road team on the season.

Celtics vs Kings betting trend to know

The Over is 14-5-1 in Kings’ last 20 overall. Find more NBA betting trends for Celtics vs. Kings.

Celtics vs Kings game info

Location: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, CA
Date: Tuesday, March 21, 2023
Tip-off: 10:00 p.m. ET
TV: NBCS-Boston, NBCS-California

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