NBA Odds & Pick for Celtics vs. Knicks: Tom Thibodeau Will Continue Dominating as a Favorite
Steven Ryan/Getty Images. Pictured: Evan Fournier.
Celtics vs. Knicks Odds
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
While both teams were handed first-round exits last season in the playoffs, with the Knicks performing well over their preseason expectations and the Celtics missing the mark. Boston responded by resetting its front office, elevating Brad Stevens to an executive role and bringing in rookie head coach Ime Udoka to replace him on the bench.
Both teams have made efforts to retool their rosters ahead of a season with Playoff aspirations, let’s see who can start the season off with a win against a divisional opponent.
Before we get started, let’s recap some of the notable transactions that the Celtics have made over the offseason.
- Additions: Enes Kanter, Dennis Schroder, Al Horford, Josh Richardson, Juancho Hernangomez
- Subtractions: Evan Fournier, Kemba Walker, Tristan Thompson, Semi Ojeleye, Luke Kornet
Even with these moves, the Celtics may not be playing with their full complement of players on Wednesday night.
Horford is Out (COVID-19), Jaylen Brown is questionable (COVID-19) and Payton Pritchard is probable (nose). Keep tabs on their status using our Action Network Injury Report tool because Brown’s availability could swing this line. However, even if he does play, it’s fair to extrapolate that he will need to be ramped up and unable to play his typical share of minutes.
The uncertainty does not favor the Celtics, who lost three of six players who started a playoff game for them last season. If they’re also missing Brown, the offensive burden will be placed on the shoulders of Jayson Tatum and the newly acquired Dennis Schroder.
Although preseason is not indicative of regular-season performance, one thing to note is that the Celtics had the worst expected eFG% of 50.0% in four games, per Cleaning the Glass. Boston shied away from attempts at the rim while taking midrange jumpers 4% more often than last regular season.
The one positive development is the Celtics launched 43.8% of their attempts from 3-point range, which would be a significant uptick from 38.1% last season. It’s tough to determine if this is a preseason trend or a new scheme by Udoka, but it’s absolutely something to monitor.
New York Knicks
The Knicks return after making a few improvements to their roster. Here are their noteworthy additions and subtractions:
- Additions: Kemba Walker, Evan Fournier, Dwayne Bacon, Brandon Knight, Quentin Grimes (25th Pick)
- Subtractions: Reggie Bullock, Frank Ntilikina, Theo Pinson, Elfrid Payton (thankfully)
The Knicks may be without backup center Nerlens Noel, who is doubtful due to a knee injury, but this should be mitigated by the return of Mitchell Robinson, who missed over half of last season due to injury. Robinson played 27 minutes in the Knicks’ most recent preseason game, tallying six points, nine boards and two steals. He’s a strong rim runner and an effective interior defender.
While Robinson’s return will give a defensive boost to the Knicks, their offseason acquisitions of Walker and Fournier were crucial for a team that was lacking productive offensive players. Walker is a true point guard who elevates the team’s offense with his own scoring and facilitating.
Fournier disappointed after being acquired by the Celtics at last season’s trade deadline, but he still was a plus on the offensive side of the floor. This is what the Knicks desperately needed to take the offensive burden off of reigning Most Improved Player Award-winner Julius Randle and rising star RJ Barrett.
The additions of Fournier and Walker should help unlock this offense, even if it means a bit of a downgrade defensively. Any Tom Thibodeau-coached team will have crisp defensive rotations and hustle, which can make up for any defensive regression they may face.
This matchup between two playoff hopefuls comes down to one thing: certainty.
Udoka looks to be a tenacious head coach, but it’s not clear how he will structure his offensive or defensive schemes. On the other hand, Thibodeau will play his starters extended minutes with a focus on defensive intensity.
Also, to put it plainly, Thibs beats the teams he is supposed to. Over his coaching career, Thibodeau’s teams are 189-66 straight-up as home favorites, including an incredible 16-1 last season with the Knicks, per Action Labs.
This Knicks team is deep and relatively healthy, which cannot be said of the Celtics. With Walker in the starting lineup, followed by bench spark plugs Derrick Rose and Immanuel Quickley, the Knicks should be able to retain an advantage with their second unit.
That gives the Knicks an edge on the full game but also in the second quarter, where bench rotations matter. New York will likely use a unit that is made up of Rose, Quickley, Alec Burks, Obi Toppin and Taj Gibson. This unit should crush. In fact, this exact lineup posted an impressive +17.5 point differential in 252 possessions last season, per Cleaning the Glass.
I like the Knicks for the game and will lay the point and a half, but I’d also like to capitalize on the edge they should have in the second quarter.
Pick: Knicks -1.5 and Knicks 2Q (-1 or better)