Posted on: March 7, 2023, 10:12h.
Last updated on: March 7, 2023, 10:43h.
The Boston Celtics won’t have Robert Williams III, their starting center and the team’s best defender, in the lineup for at least another week while he recovers from a left hamstring injury.
The Celtics are stuck in a rut and playing their worst ball of the season during a 5-5 stretch over their last 10 games. They lost three games in a row, including consecutive overtime games.
The Celtics had the best record in the NBA for the majority of the season, but they’re barely keeping their heads above water with a 10-9 clip over their last 19 games.
Williams had been nursing a sprained ankle and the Celtics will now shut him down in hope his recent hamstring injury won’t be an issue when the playoffs begin in April.
The Celtics are on a specific mission to win the championship this season after advancing to the 2022 NBA Finals before losing to the Golden State Warriors last year. Fans all over New England expect their beloved Celtics will return to the NBA Finals this postseason and secure the franchise’s 18th NBA championship.
Another Injury for the Time Lord
Williams tweaked his hamstring on Friday night against the Brooklyn Nets. The injury occurred in the third quarter when Williams attempted to block Cam Johnson’s shot. When he landed in the paint, Williams clutched his left hamstring. He exited the game and didn’t return.
On Monday, the Celtics indicated Williams had a strained left hamstring and that they would re-evaluate his injury in seven to 10 days.
Williams anchors the Celtics’ switch-heavy defense, but he’s been plagued with injuries over the last few seasons. During the 2021 NBA playoffs, Williams was slowed down with a painful turf toe injury.
Last March, Williams sustained a torn meniscus in his left knee. He underwent surgery and returned for the playoffs, but he missed a couple of playoff games due to knee soreness and swelling. In 17 playoff games last year, he averaged 7.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks per game.
Williams has a second surgery to repair his left knee in the offseason, which delayed the start of his 2022-23 season. He made his season debut in mid-December and finally found his groove in February when he almost averaged a double-double per game.
In 28 games this season, Williams averages 8.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game. He’s also shooting a career-high 75% from the floor.
The Celtics acquired center Mike Muscala from the Oklahoma City Thunder at the trade deadline. Muscala appeared in eight games with the Celtics and started in the last two games with Williams sidelined.
Out of Sync Celtics Slip to #2 Seed
The Milwaukee Bucks unleashed a 16-game winning streak and seized first place in the Eastern Conference. They opened a two-game lead over the Celtics, who are now in second place. The Celtics hold a two-game lead over the Philadelphia 76ers in third place.
We came back out from the All-Star break and everybody lost their rhythm on both ends of the floor,” point guard Marcus Smart told The Athletic. “We’re struggling and trying to get back. Each and everybody is, in their own unique way, just trying to help this team and, at the same time, getting into a rhythm. It’s tough, bro.”
Since the break, the Celtics are 3-4 with three overtime games. Betting-wise, the Celtics are 2-5 against the point spread since the break.
Championship teams slam the door shut when they have a late-game lead, but the Celtics have been unable to finish off opponents this season. The Celtics lead the NBA with 11 overtime games. They have a 4-7 record in games that ended as a tie in regulation, which is a testament to their inability to close out victories.
The Celtics played, and lost, a number of close games this season with a 4-5 record in games decided by three or fewer points.
The Celtics beat up on bad teams and have a 24-7 record against losing squads this season. They boast the best record in the NBA versus teams that are below .500. However, the Celtics struggle to defeat winning teams. They are only 21-14 against teams above .500.
Betting the Celtics in the Final 16 Games
If you’re looking to make a futures bet on the Celtics, then now is the time because backers have been paying a premium in futures prices all season.
The Celtics are still the consensus favorite to win the 2022-23 NBA championship, but the Phoenix Suns are closing in on them. DraftKings has the Celtics to win the title at +310 odds. The Suns aren’t far behind at +330 odds, and the Bucks are +475 odds.
The Celtics are +135 odds to win the Eastern Conference in consecutive seasons and return to the NBA Finals. The Bucks are +190 odds to win the conference.
The Celtics saw their lead in the Atlantic Division shrink to two games over the 76ers, yet they’re still a big favorite to win the division at -2000 odds. The 76ers offer up solid value at +750 odds to snatch the Atlantic Division crown away from the Celtics.
In a recently updated prediction from FiveThirtyEight, the Celtics have a 27% chance to advance to the NBA Finals and a 15% chance to win the championship. The Celtics have the third-highest projection behind the Denver Nuggets (22%) and Milwaukee Bucks (20%).
In late January, at the midseason mark, the Celtics had the best record in the NBA at 35-12, and FiveThirtyEight projected they had a 26% chance to win the championship. Since that high-water mark in January, the Celtics are 10-9.
With 16 games left in the regular season, the Celtics have the eighth-easiest remaining schedule in the NBA. Their opponents have a combined winning percentage of .483, which bodes well for the Celtics who dominated sub-.500 teams this season.
The Celtics host the Portland Trail Blazers this week in Boston before they begin a six-game road trip this weekend.