Knicks vs. Celtics: Will New York's Defense Regress?

Action Network contributor Jim Turvey previews Thursday's NBA game between the New York Knicks and the Boston Celtics, including a betting prediction.

Knicks vs. Celtics Odds

Knicks Odds +8
Celtics Odds -8
Over/Under 226.5
Time 7:30 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The first game on the TNT Thursday doubleheader gives us a battle between a pair of Eastern Conference teams as the 26-23 New York Knicks travel to Boston to take on the 35-14 Boston Celtics.

Both teams are mostly healthy, but have one key defensive player missing. Mitchell Robinson is definitely out for the Knicks and Marcus Smart is likely to miss this game for the Celtics.

As such, this could be a good spot to look for a high total. Let’s break it all down from a betting perspective.

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New York Knicks

Robinson, the Knicks elite rim protector and best player in terms of on-off differential this season, has been out for the past three games. In the first two such matchups, New York’s opponents flew past their projected total (139 for the Atlanta Hawks and 125 for the Toronto Raptors). The most recent outing saw the Knicks put in a strong defensive effort, holding the Cleveland Cavaliers to just 103 points.

One area in which the Knicks consistently struggled in seasons past, and are struggling against in 2022-23, is limiting their opposition from deep. Only the Houston Rockets give up a higher number of 3-pointers per 100 possessions than the Knicks this season.

New York is one of the better teams in terms of opponent 3-point percentage, but all those looks from deep can add up to some extreme results. The Knicks have given up at least 130 points three times in regulation and another two times in overtime.

On the flip side, when the opposition gets those looks and can’t connect, the Knicks have held four teams to under 90. Due to the number of threes their opposition takes, the Knicks can be a very high variance team.

Boston Celtics

The Celtics will love the chance to get up 3s. Only the Warriors have taken more 3s this season and the Celtics rank eighth in the Association in terms of 3-point field goal percentage.

One doesn’t have to look far to imagine the Celtics mauling this Knicks defense, as Boston dropped 133 on New York in the first meeting between these teams back in November. In that matchup, Boston made 27(!) 3s.

The Celtics will also be well rested as they sat several key members in their close loss to Miami earlier this week. They’ll likely be without Smart,  who was 3-of-5 from deep in that previous matchup, but he is far from Boston’s best 3-point weapon (33.3% this season).

The Celtics have cleared 130 points in seven games this season, none of which even needed overtime. They’ve cleared 125 in another nine games.

Knicks-Celtics Pick

There are lots of different ways we can attack this game. First and foremost, the total of 226.5 is too low. It was 227 for the first matchup and although Robinson also missed that game, Smart, who is worth a point or two to the under, played.

I also really like targeting the Celtics team total. That should come in around 117 or 117.5, but I would play it all the way up to 120.5 (-110). In fact, escalators on either the Celtics team total, or the game total are another great way to attack this game.

Typically, I don’t suggest buying points on an alt line, but in certain cases — when the extremes are being undervalued — I can get behind it. Buying something like over 236.5 (+200) would be a suggested play.

Finally, another bet type I don’t always advise is the same-game parlay. Because there is no ‘no’ market on most bets offered in a same-game parlay, they can often be disadvantageous to the bettor. But in a high-action game like I see this one being, it’s a much better fit.

Plus, DraftKings has been handing out several SGP boosts, and FanDuel has their risk-free SGPs for TNT Thursday. As such, building something around an alt over, alongside Jaylen Brown 3s and points, would be a good look.

Pick: Over 226.5 (-110)— Alt over at 236.5 (+200)