Nuggets vs. Celtics NBA expert prediction and odds for Friday, Jan. 19 (Back Boston)

Will Boston’s dominance at home continue against the reigning champions? 

Jan 15, 2024; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Boston Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis (8) grabs a rebound.
Jan 15, 2024; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Boston Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis (8) grabs a rebound. / John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets started a five-game road trip with a 126-121 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. Denver had a five-point lead going into the fourth quarter,  but the Nuggets’ defense allowed Philadelphia to shoot nearly 50% from 3-point range and get to the free-throw line 34 times to pull away in the final minutes. Can the Nuggets bounce back with a marquee road win at Boston?

The Celtics have not dropped a home game all season, improving to 20-0 at TD Garden with a 117-98 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday. Boston has the NBA’s best record and holds a four-game lead in the Eastern Conference. Will the Celtics stay hot in primetime? 

Here’s the betting preview for Friday’s cross-conference clash. 

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Nuggets vs. Celtics odds, spread and total

Nuggets vs. Celtics how to watch

  • Date: Friday, Jan. 19
  • Game time: 7:30 p.m. EST
  • Venue: TD Garden
  • How to watch (TV): ESPN
  • Nuggets record: 28-14
  • Celtics record: 32-9

Nuggets vs. Celtics injury reports

Denver Nuggets injury report

  • Julian Strawther (knee): out
  • Aaron Gordon (shoulder): probable

Boston Celtics injury report

  • No reported injuries

Nuggets vs. Celtics key players to watch

Denver Nuggets

Michael Porter Jr.: Denver’s elite offense obviously starts with the reigning NBA Finals MVP and triple-double machine, Nikola Jokic, but Porter is shooting over 40% from 3-point range for the second-straight year and has been on a tear recently. Porter, who is averaging 16.4 points per game, has scored 20-plus points in three straight games.

In that span, he’s shooting 58.9% from the floor and is 13-of-24 (54.2%) from downtown. He’s also grabbed 23 rebounds in that stretch and posted his first double-double since Christmas in Denver’s 125-113 win over Utah on Jan. 10 with 20 points and 10 boards. 

Boston Celtics

Kristaps Porzingis: The veteran center has been a huge addition for the Celtics this season, averaging 19.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per game while shooting a career-high 52.5% from the field. Porzingis is healthy after missing the win over San Antonio with knee inflammation and has had success against Jokic in his career.

In 12 career games against The Joker, Porzingis has averaged 20.5 points and 7.6 rebounds. Last season in Washington, he had 25 points in 22 minutes in a loss to Denver on March 22, 2023. 

Nuggets vs. Celtics prediction and pick

Boston has been way too good at home to bet against in a big game. Not only are the Celtics 20-0 at home straight up, but they’ve been profitable to bettors, as well, going 13-7 against the spread. They get Porzingis back in the lineup on Friday, along with point guard Derrick White (15.9 points per game), who missed the win over San Antonio with an ankle injury.

Denver is just 7-14 ATS on the road this season, tied with Charlotte for the second-worst mark in the NBA away from home. Denver is just 1-3 ATS as a road underdog, and hasn't covered in that spot since a Nov. 27 win over the Clippers. 

At full strength, Boston’s defense, which ranks No. 2 in defensive rating, has the weapons to slow down Denver’s high-powered offense, which ranks 19th in scoring on the road this season. Lay the points with the Celtics to keep their momentum going. 

Game odds update periodically are subject to change