The Knicks fell to the Milwaukee Bucks in the quarterfinals of the In-Season Tournament earlier this week. Finishing second in their group, NY was forced to play the Bucks twice in the tournament and lost both games. Now, they face their division rivals for a scheduled game as a result of both teams losing in the quarterfinals.
The Celtics were upset big time against the Indiana Pacers. Tyrese Haliburton has turned the Pacers into a contending team and after losing by 50 to the Celtics earlier in the season, they bounced back and had a huge second half to lead them to the win. Haliburton didn't play in their first matchup, which makes that 50-point game seem non-existent now. His triple-double against Boston propelled them to another win against the Bucks in the semifinals. The Pacers will now play LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers for the In-Season Tournament Final on Saturday.
Here are the NBA odds, courtesy of FanDuel.
NBA Odds: Knicks-Celtics Odds
New York Knicks: +8 (-112)
Boston Celtics: -8 (-108)
Over: 220.5 (-112)
Under: 220.5 (-108)
How to Watch Knicks vs. Celtics
Time: 7:30 ET/4:30 PT
TV: NBA TV
Stream: fuboTV (Click for free trial)
Why The Knicks Could Cover The Spread
Heading into the game against Milwaukee, the Knicks' defense was playing very well. They then allowed 146 points as Giannis Antetokounmpo went 15-22 from the floor. Damian Lillard had one of his better games in a Bucks uniform and the Knicks allowed Milwaukee to shoot 60% from the field. Facing another dominant team in the East, the Knicks must improve on the defensive end if they want to cover this spread. NY remains 3rd in the NBA in points allowed at 107.5 per game. Boston is right behind at 108.1.
Julius Randle is coming off a 41-point outing where he shot 14-19 from the field. He's now averaging north of 20 points per game on the season and the team needs him to get going offensively. The start of this season has not been friendly to him offensively but that game against the Bucks could have been a spark, despite the ugly result. Jalen Brunson leads the team with 24.9 points per game while also leading with 5.6 assists.
Why The Celtics Could Cover The Spread
The Celtics will get big man Kristaps Porzingis back from injury tonight. He missed the last five and a half games with a calf injury and you could say the Celtics missed him a lot. He injured his calf in the blowout loss to the Orlando Magic and didn't play the second half of that game. That loss to Orlando was crucial because it was an In-Season game, and as a result, the Celtics finished as the 3rd seed forcing an away matchup at Indiana. The Celtics would go on to lose on the road and not having Porzingis in the lineup hurt them in that type of atmosphere. The former New York Knick is averaging 18.9 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game.
With The Unicorn back for Boston, they are fully healthy again. The C's are 12-3 with Porzinigis playing and remember, they beat NY on Opening Night by just four points at Madison Square Garden. Porzingis and Jayson Tatum combined to score 64 points. Fast forward back to now, the Celtics (15-5) still look like an NBA Finals contender while the Knicks are proving they are one of the better teams in the conference with a (12-8) record. The Celtics know they have to play very well tonight if they want to win this game, not just cover.
Tatum is 10th in the NBA in scoring at 27.6 points per game. Jaylen Brown is tied for 22nd at 22.2 points. One player who needs to step up offensively is Jrue Holiday, who is averaging just 12.2 points on the young season.
Final Knicks-Celtics Prediction & Pick
Both teams are looking to bounce back after bad losses on the road in the quarterfinals of the In-Season Tournament. I do like the Celtics to win this game at home but covering eight points is a bit much for my liking. Boston won by just four against NY earlier in the season and I know Boston pays much better at home, but take the Knicks to cover eight points on the road as their defense will play much better tonight. I like the under as well as it should be a low-scoring affair.
Final Knicks-Celtics Prediction & Pick: New York Knicks: +8 (-112); Under 220.5 (-108)