|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
The Knicks and Celtics will finally meet again a couple of months after their memorable double-overtime clash on opening night, and much has changed since then.
While Boston briefly found a groove, it’s been struggling of late, and you can absolutely say that about the Knicks, who have been a disaster on defense and now have to deal with multiple absences.
Is it possible that we could see enough points scored here to get to the over? Let’s take a look at the numbers.
Knicks in a Free Fall
The Knicks were 10-9 when they removed Kemba Walker from their rotation. Now, they’re 13-16. Things have spiraled quickly on New York, and while it improved briefly its defense and preserved Walker’s knees with the benching, we have learned this team has some big needs if it’s serious about contending.
It also turns out that one of those needs may be Walker, considering the Knicks placed yet another player — Immanuel Quickley — into the league’s health and safety protocols on Friday. The list has grown to five, but New York is specifically thin in the backcourt with Quickley, Quentin Grims and R.J. Barrett in the protocols and Derrick Rose questionable with a sore right ankle. The Knicks got some good minutes from rookie Deuce McBride but they may need to call upon Walker here.
Any way you slice it, this is a dire situation for New York, which is also down a pair of wings in Obi Toppin and Kevin Knox. It is just 2-6 against the spread in its last eight, though one of those ATS wins did come last time out as a 5.5-point favorite in Houston.
One interesting note about the Knicks is that while they’ve had their fair share of hardship this season, that hasn’t really been the case away from Madison Square Garden. When playing away from home, New York is scoring 5.8 more points per 100 possessions and 2.1 fewer points per 100. The Knicks actually have a positive Net Rating on the road at +2.3 compared to -5.6 in New York.
Celtics Finding Some Answers with Brown Back
Make that four losses in five games for the Celtics, who are still waiting to turn the corner and get fully healthy. Boston came close to a huge win over the Warriors at home on Friday, but fell short after a stellar third quarter helped Boston actually briefly lead in the fourth quarter against the league’s best team.
Boston got a real shot in the arm against Milwaukee when it saw Jaylen Brown, one of its best players, return to the lineup. The team posted an offensive rating of 120.6 in that game which, even with the Bucks shorthanded, was still a huge accomplishment given how things were going on that side of the ball for Boston.
Against Golden State, the Celtics scored 109.2 points per 100 possessions, which also has to be considered a win against such a great defense.
The Celtics also returned Josh Richardson in that game, who gave them 35 huge minutes with 15 points and some great defense. Though Al Horford and Grant Williams are in the health and safety protocols, the returns of Brown and Richardson have more than made up for the losses.
It’s worth noting that while the Celtics have struggled for most of the year, they can still hang their hat on the fact that they’re 9-7 ATS when favored.
While the Celtics flat-out get better with Brown on the floor, one thing that really is noticeable is the way they play. The pace with Brown on the floor is 100.91 this year, according to NBA.com, versus 97.8 with him off the floor. While this doesn’t necessarily mean we should believe in the over, given the team’s defense has been over 10 points better with Brown, it could mean that in this case.
The Knicks’ offense has improved over the last 10 games even with all the absences, scoring nearly 111 points per 100 possessions, while their defense remains one of the worst in the league — which should remain the case here with so many players out.
New York defends very well inside, but without Horford or Williams and with Brown it’s hard to see Boston trying to force things around the rim. It should get whatever it wants on offense, and with so many possessions and a Knicks team finding success from three, I think we can get to this over.
Pick: Over 210 (-110)