Celtics vs. Knicks Odds, Prediction, Preview: How to Back New York in Regular-Season Finale (May 16)

Celtics vs. Knicks Odds, Prediction, Preview: How to Back New York in Regular-Season Finale (May 16) article feature image
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David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Julius Randle.

  • The New York Knicks can host a first-round playoff series with a win over the Celtics on Sunday. You read that correctly.
  • New York has been the biggest surprise of the NBA season, while Boston has dealt with injuries all year and is without Jaylen Brown the rest of the way.
  • Matthew Trebby breaks down the matchup and delivers his best bet for the afternoon matchup at Madison Square Garden.

Editor’s note: Jayson Tatum and Evan Fournier have been ruled out for Sunday’s game. For more updated injury news, check out our NBA Insiders tool.

Celtics vs. Knicks Odds

Celtics Odds +8.5
Knicks Odds -8.5
Moneyline +310 / -400
Over/Under 215.5
Time Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV ESPN
Odds as of Sunday and via BetMGM

Shockingly, it’s the New York Knicks who enter this game looking for home-court in the first round and not the Boston Celtics.

The Knicks have been a feel-good story in the NBA this season, sitting at 40-31 on the final day of the campaign. They’re poised to start a playoff series at Madison Square Garden, which will surely be rocking.

On the other side, the Celtics are locked into the seventh spot and have too many holes to count; those have gotten even bigger with news that Jaylen Brown will miss the playoffs. The Celtics won’t have much time to get healthy with the play-in tournament right around the corner.

Let’s break down the betting value in this East Coast matchup.

Boston Enters Season Finale Hobbled

The Celtics entered Saturday night’s matchup with the Timberwolves having lost four straight. They also didn’t have Marcus Smart, Kemba Walker, Tristan Thompson or Robert Williams.

It didn’t matter. Jayson Tatum led the way and the C’s dominated the Timberwolves finding themselves up by 19 at halftime. It helped that the Timberwolves were ice cold from the field (5-of-37 from 3-point range), but it was an impressive performance for a Celtics team bound for the play-in tournament.

Boston is going to be the seven seed in the play-in games, which means even if it gets out of the tournament, a matchup with one of the East’s elite awaits.

For this one, Walker isn’t going to play again, which makes it even harder to trust the Celtics on the back end of a back-to-back set. Boston is 4-6 over its past 10 games and has a 0.1 Net Rating, according to NBA Advanced Stats.

Most importantly for bettors, the Celtics didn’t cover any of their four losses before the win over the Timberwolves. They’ve been a good team to fade as the season comes to an end.

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Knicks Look to Close Fantastic Season With Win

New York has been a bettor’s dream this season. The Knicks have covered three of their past four games and six of their past nine. They’re an NBA-best 44-25-1 against the spread (ATS) this season, much of that thanks to an early season run during which no one believed in them.

As it turns out, the Knicks were for real all along.

A win in this game secures home-court advantage in the Knicks’ first-round series against the Hawks. (Who would’ve thought I’d type that sentence before the season.)

The Knicks’ bread and butter has been its defense all season long. Over the past 10 games, New York’s Defensive Rating is 108.4, which is second in the NBA, according to NBA Advanced Stats.

That’s pretty typical of a Tom Thibodeau team. What else is typical of such squad? Playing a lot of minutes. I’d be shocked if the likes of Julius Randle and RJ Barrett are held back at all in this game, especially with a week break between this game and the start of the playoff series against Atlanta.

Celtics-Knicks Pick

I have a hard time not backing the Knicks here. Boston was fortunate that Minnesota had its worst shooting performance of the season on Saturday and, like I said, it’s tough to trust such a banged-up team on a second straight day against a good team like the Knicks.

The first-half line will also be very intriguing when it is posted. If you thought the Knicks’ record ATS this season was impressive, they’re 48-22-1 ATS in the first half this season.

I’m not expecting the Celtics to come out and look as good on Sunday as they did against the Timberwolves. New York will be up for this game and no doubt be on the offensive on both ends of the floor from the tip.

Pick: Knicks -8.5

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