Celtics

Celtics vs. Rockets odds: Best NBA picks as C's return home vs. James Harden and Russell Westbrook

Celtics

Two of the hottest teams in the NBA - each with one of the league's hottest players - meet at TD Garden Saturday night when the Houston Rockets visit the Boston Celtics in a nationally-televised matchup (8:30 p.m., ABC).

Houston (38-20) has won five in a row and features the high-scoring duo of James Harden (NBA-leading 35.2 points per game) and Russell Westbrook (27.3). It's Westbrook who has caught fire lately, averaging 32.3 points and shooting better than 54 percent from the field in his past 10 games. 

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Nearly matching Westbrook's scoring output the past 10 games is the Celtics' Jayson Tatum, who's a big reason the Celtics come in having won five of six, including their just-completed 3-1 trip west. Tatum has averaged 31.1 points the past 10 games is shooting 50 percent from behind the 3-point arc. 

The C's (41-17) return home to face the last of eight games in a row against Western Conference opponents. They've gone 5-2 so far with one of those losses coming at Houston - 116-105 on Feb. 11 - when Harden went for 42 and Westbrook 36. Tatum was held to 15 and it was the last time he hasn't reached at least 28 points since.

With Kemba Walker (knee) out again for Boston, the Celtics will need Tatum to continue his scoring binge. They come in as 1.5-point favorites. Here's a closer look at the showdown from a betting perspective, along with two NBA locks against the spread on Saturday night: 

(All odds provided by WestGate Superbook.)

Houston Rockets at Boston Celtics, 8:30 p.m., ET

Moneyline: The Celtics tend to get up for the good teams, having gone 9-2 in their past 11 games against potential playoff teams, averaging 117.6 points in those games with a +10.1 scoring differential. That and the home court, where they're 23-5 this season (Houston is 17-12 on the road) with the Garden crowd behind them, Tatum's recent heroics and the NBA's No. 3 defense (allowing 106.5 points a game), give the Celtics (-120) the nod, even without Walker. 

 

Point Spread: The Celtics are 6-1 against the spread in their past seven home games, 5-0 ATS against Western Conference opponents and 7-2 ATS in their past nine as a favorite. Look for payback from that loss in Houston as the C's cover the (-1.5) spread. 

Point Total: Despite the C's strong defense, the Rockets still have the No. 2-ranked offense in the NBA at 118.9 points per game and have the firepower in Harden and Westbrook. Jaylen Brown (20 points), Marcus Smart (17) and Gordon Hayward (12) supplemented Tatum with scoring help in Boston's 114-103 victory in Utah Wednesday and will have to again vs. defensively challenged Houston (allowing 114.1 ppg, 21st in the NBA). Look for the teams to go OVER the 230 point total. 

Pat's record 9-12, 42.8% success rate, picking the Celtics' moneyline, point spread and point total, pinch-hitting for Darren Hartwell (78-44-1 63.4% success rate).

Indiana Pacers (-8) at Cleveland Cavaliers, 8 p.m.: The Pacers have won six of eight overall and should end the modest three-game home winning streak for the Cavs, who are on the second night of a back-to-back after a 12-point loss in New Orleans Friday. 

Los Angeles Lakers (-8) at Memphis Grizzlies, 8 p.m.: The Lakers have won seven in a row and nine of 10 overall.  The Grizzlies have lost five in a row and six of eight and are on the second night of a back-to-back after a three-point home loss to the Sacramento Kings on Friday. Go with L.A. even with a questionable LeBron James (groin).  

Pat''s record 7-7, 50% success rate, picking NBA locks against the spread, pinch-hitting for Darren Hartwell (39-41-1, 48.1%)

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Rockets-Celtics, which begins Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.