Last Updated: 2018-12-06
Just two weeks ago, the New York Knicks (8-17; 13-10-2 ATS) thrashed of the Boston Celtics 117-109 at TD Garden, playing as 14.5-point underdogs. Meanwhile, the Celtics (13-10; 10-13 ATS) have won four of their five games, while the Knicks have lost three of their six encounters along with another three upsets versus New Orleans, Memphis, and Milwaukee most recently. So, can the Knicks make one more surprise, as it seems like Boston is improving over the last two weeks?
The Celtics’ Jaylen Brown has missed the last three games due to a back injury, and he could return against New York to get some minutes off the bench. Jaylen started 19 times this season, averaging 11.1 points and 4.1 rebounds per game on poor 39.8% shooting from the field. On the other side, the Knicks are still without Kristaps Porzingis who could miss a majority of the season. Lance Thomas is slowly recovering from a knee surgery, while Trey Burke will be sidelined for at least a week with a knee injury.
The Celtics opened as huge 12.5-point favorites with the total at 217.5 points and the Knicks at +660 money line odds. The bettors who were backing the Knicks over the last few weeks are certainly overjoyed as New York is 6-2 ATS in its last eight games while taking the money line odds could make a fortune. Boston is just 4-4 ATS in its last eight contests, but the Celtics are 3-0 straight up and ATS in their previous three outings. The over has hit in seven of Boston’s last nine and in five of New York’s last nine games.
What’s at Stake?
If you ask the Celtics’ fans, their pride is at stake. The Knicks have dominated the previous meeting at TD Garden, dropping 65 first-half points on the stranded Celtics and having a lead for all 48 minutes. That is a humiliating fact for title contenders even when it comes early in the season, so it seems like no one counts that Celtics’ 103-101 win at New York in Week 1. The Knicks can play in a relaxed manner, as this one has been already marked as a loss.
The Celtics are on a tight, alternate schedule for their next seven games starting with a home clash with the Knicks before they visit Chicago on Saturday, so they should be motivated to kick-start this heavy streak. New York has played against some heavy-loaded teams in the last few weeks, and after the matchup at Boston, the Knicks will welcome the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday which is another tough challenge due to a huge rivalry.
The Celtics are 1st in the league in the opponent field goal percentage (44.0), and they did a lousy job last time against the Knicks who nailed 49.4% of their field goals. Likewise, the Knicks made 15 of their 30 three-point shots along with 14-of-17 shooting from the free-throw line, so they could afford 17 turnovers and still easily win the game. The Celtics cut their lead down the stretch, but Trey Burke’s trey edged the game with 15 seconds left on the clock.
On the other side, the Celtics had a horrible shooting night with 39.2% from the field and 30.3% from beyond the arc. Kyrie Irving had 9-of-25 from the field and 2-of-9 from deep, Jayson Tatum had 4-of-12 from the field, while Gordon Hayward had 6-of-14 off the bench hitting just two of his seven three-point shots. The Celtics won the battle on the glass (60-56), grabbing six offensive rebounds more than the Knicks while turning the ball over just eight times which was 9 times less than their rivals. And, the Celtics lost the game without taking the lead at any point of it.
Hereof, it seems like the Knicks need another super shooting night to upset the odds, as the Celtics are undoubtedly a better team by far. The Knicks have some dangerous attacking weapons, and Tim Hardaway Jr. is playing his best season so far, tallying 22.1 points per game on 36.0% shooting from deep, but the Celtics’ team defense will be a key factor. If the Celtics put on a strong defensive performance and shot the ball at least slightly better than last time against New York, they will win the game and probably cover this huge spread.
Interestingly, the Knicks are 28th in the league in field goal percentage (43.8), while the Celtics are 22nd (44.5), so we shouldn’t expect to see another firecracker from the Knicks. Boston is allowing 104.1 points per game (5th in the league), while the Knicks are surrendering 114.4 points a night (26th).
I think the Celtics will easily beat the Knicks, but the double-digit spread is always a tough wager, as it’s all the same for the Celtics whether they win by 18 or 11 points as long as they make it without a stress. Picking an alternative spread at lower wages is always an option, but I will take the Celtics to cover the 12.5-point chalk, hoping they will bring their best defense, while I assume the Knicks can replicate their shooting performance from the previous H2H duel. Hereof, I suggest the under on the totals even though the betting trends could indicate the opposite. I rely on Celtics’ defense that could shut down the Knicks and limit their offense under 100 points.
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