The Boston Celtics hit the road and travel to Madison Square Garden on Friday night to take on the New York Knicks who must still be in shock after the Kristaps Porzingis trade.
Following a slow and subpar start to their 2018-19 season, the Boston Celtics appear to be regaining the form that made them the preseason favorites to win the Eastern Conference this season. Kyrie Irving delivered a pep talk to his young teammates last January 12 and since then, Boston has won seven out of their last nine games to move to within five games of the Eastern Conference leading Milwaukee Bucks.
Kyrie Irving is the undisputed leader of the team. Irving leads the Celtics in points and assists but he may not play in this game with a hip injury. But prior to his latest absence, Irving was averaging 28.9 points in his last seven games. Jayson Tatum is the next best scorer with 16.3 points and 6.2 rebounds per game while Marcus Morris is contributing 14.6 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.
Boston is the 12th best scoring team in the NBA right now at 112.4 points per game. The Celtics are ranked 6th in assists with 26.1 dimes per contest and they are also 15th in rebounding at 45.3 boards per game. The Men in Green are ranked 4th in scoring defense, allowing their opponents to score only 105.6 points per game this season.
Just a couple of seasons ago, it appeared that the Knicks were going to rebuild around their Latvian unicorn Kristaps Porzingis. But after Porzingis suffered a season ending knee injury last season, the situation has changed. New York got off to a terrible start without Porzingis and with the playoffs out of the equation, New York shocked the league when it traded Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday, citing that the Latvian no longer wanted to be part of the team.
Tim Hardaway Jr. is the lone bright spot of the season. Hardaway is having his best season at 19.1 points per game this season but he has been included in the Porzingis trade. Emmanuel Mudiay is showing promise with 14.7 points and 3.9 assists per game this season. Rookie Kevin Knox is averaging 12.3 points and 4.2 rebounds per game while Noah Vonleh is having his best season as a pro with 8.7 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.
New York is ranked 23rd in scoring at 106.2 points per game this season. The Knicks are dead last in passing with just 19.7 assists per game and 22nd in rebounding at 44.0 boards per contest. They are also giving up the 5th most points per game this season at 115.0 opponents points per game.
The Celtics are 7-3 SU in their last 10 games played but the Celtics are just 2-6 SU in their last eight road games played. Head to head, the Celtics are 7-3 SU in their last 10 road games at the Madison Square Garden and are 7-3 SU in their last 10 games overall against the Knicks.
The Celtics are playing at a different level since Kyrie Irving called out his younger teammates. Boston is 7-2 since then and Irving himself has been lights out in his last seven games to lead by example. However, Irving missed the Celtics’ last game after suffering a hip injury during their loss to the Golden State Warriors. He is also questionable for this game but Boston is 6-2 SU without their star point guard this season.
The Knicks have won just a total of 10 games this season. This will be their first game since they announced a blockbuster trade involving Kristaps Porzingis. The Knicks got Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan and Wesley Matthews in that deal while they also shipped out Courtney Lee, Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr.
The Knicks are in a disarray right now and with Hardaway gone, I’m not sure where they go to in offense, at least for this game while their new players aren’t in town yet. The Celtics are on a roll and look like they have finally rediscovered their deadly form. With or without Kyrie, the Celtics should have no problem winning this game. We’re picking the Boston Celtics to beat the New York Knicks on 2/1/19.
The Celtics are 4-6 ATS in their last 10 games played. Boston is 1-2 ATS in their last three road games played. The Knicks are also 4-6 ATS in their last 10 games played. New York is 2-4 ATS in their last six home games. Head to head, the Celtics are 6-4 ATS in their last 10 games against the Knicks.
The Celtics are 9-3 ATS in their last dozen games after scoring a straight up win of more than 10 points in their previous game, 7-1 ATS in their last eight games against teams with a winning percentage of below .400 and 5-2 ATS in their last seven Friday games. The Knicks are 1-5 ATS in their last six games against the Atlantic Division, 0-4 ATS in their last five games when their opponent scored 100 or more points in their previous game and 2-10 ATS in their last 12 home games overall. New York is a mess right now. Prediction: Celtics -13
The total has gone under in six out of the last 10 games played by the Celtics. The under is 3-0 in Boston’s last three road games. The total has gone under in eight out of the last 10 games played by the Knicks. New York has seen the total go under in four out of their last six home games. Head to head, the over is 3-1 in the last four games between these two teams.
The Knicks have struggled offensively this season and without Hardaway here, points could be scarce and few. Of course, the young guys who are left are going to step up but against a Boston team that is Top 5 in scoring defense, I’m looking at a low scoring contest here. Sure, Boston can put up points on the board in a hurry but they won’t get the Knicks to cooperate here. It also helps that the under is 5-0 in the Knicks’ last five games played. Prediction: Under 217.5