Photo credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Tim Hardaway Jr.
Betting odds: New York Knicks at Boston Celtics
- Spread: Celtics -13
- Over/under: 217.5
- Tip: 8 p.m. ET
- TV channel: TNT
>> All odds as of 1 p.m. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NBA odds and track your bets
The Knicks are bad.
That’s not a surprise or a hot take or anything; they’re 8-17 with a bottom-10 offense and defense.
There is nothing you can identify that they do well , outside of how Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke score out of the pick-and-roll, or the surprising work of Noah Vonleh.
Even Hardaway, who is enjoying a career year offensively, has a team-worst 114 Defensive Rating.
All the good comes with the bad.
But the Knicks are also 14-10-1 against-the-spread this year. They have wins vs. the Bucks, Celtics and Pelicans and have won four of their last seven games.
Maybe more surprising is that the talent level looks a little… dare I say, underrated?
Allonzo Trier is the most fascinating case. He’s shooting well to space the floor — something they desperately need — and has great burst. Vonleh has been top tier spacing the floor as well, which is startling considering the Knicks overall are ranked 29th on spot-up attempts this season.
One of their biggest issues has been that they have pieces that work, but never together.
For example, take Hardaway. Put him next to Vonleh, and you have a really good combination. Add Emmanuel Mudiay, and you go from a 102 Defensive Rating to a 116 mark. The minutes are limited, but the same effect happens with Mudiay and Vonleh with and without THJ.
The Knicks play Boston Thursday night, and the Celtics opened as 12.5-point favorites. That’s not good or bad news for New York; while they’ve struggled as big underdogs overall on the season, on the road they are 2-2-1 as a double-digit underdog. Their ATS performance is much better at home, but they haven’t gotten absolutely annihilated on the road, either.
One more thing to keep in mind. Shooting guard Courtney Lee returned from injury last game. Lee does a lot of things the Knicks specifically need.
He’s a quality shooter from distance. He’s a veteran who doesn’t make mistakes or turn the ball over. And he’s a quality defender who can take minutes from some of the other mistake-prone wings.
Lee shouldn’t be on this team; a contender should have traded for him months ago. But his return might signal a slight boost to New York’s fortune and help what is a bad, but under-the-radar, pretty intriguing team move a step closer to being decent.
Be cautious with laying 13 even with Boston’s sudden resurgence.