Celtics vs. Knicks Free NBA Picks

Jason Lake

Sunday, December 8, 2013 1:08 PM GMT

Only one team in the Atlantic Division is beating the basketball lines this year, and it’s not the New York Knicks. But they do take a two-game winning streak into MSG against the hated Boston Celtics.

Jason’s record on his final NBA picks for 2013, up to December 7 inclusive:

18-18 ATS

4-5 Totals

Well well, looks like the New York Knicks (5-13 SU, 6-12 ATS) have put on their big-boy pants. After an eight-game losing streak and a closed-door meeting, the Knicks have covered the NBA spreads in three of their last four contests, with back-to-back victories against the Brooklyn Nets (+1.5 at home) and the Orlando Magic (+6 away). Not sure which is more remarkable – that New York won both games, or that New York was favored in both games. Welcome to the Eastern Conference.

The beat goes on Sunday at Madison Square Garden (noon ET) when the Knicks host their eternal rivals, the Boston Celtics, who lead the sorry Atlantic Division at 9-12 SU and 12-9 ATS. No other team in Atlantic has made any money against the NBA lines; Sunday’s basketball odds have the Knicks favored by five points with a total of 192.5.

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Sharing Is Caring

Beating the injured Nets and the possibly-tanking Magic isn’t that great a feat, but it does take the Knicks out of the “kick ‘em while they’re down” category for now. We also need to acknowledge that forward Carmelo Anthony (22.8 PER) just had two of his best games this season, and he did it by shooting a whole lot less than he normally does: 8-for-12 against Brooklyn and 6-for-10 against Orlando. “I wanted to do something a little different to see if it worked,” Anthony told reporters after Friday’s win over the Magic. “Me scoring 30 wasn't working.”

True enough. And thanks in part to Anthony’s largesse, six Knicks managed double figures in scoring versus the Nets, and seven versus the Magic. They’re also shooting the lights out from the perimeter, nailing 16 of 27 trey attempts (59.3 percent) against Brooklyn and 17 of 34 (50 percent) against Orlando. Are we sure Mike D’Antoni isn’t coaching the Knicks still?

Brad to the Bone

We’re a lot more certain about the nice young man working the Celtics sideline. Brad Stevens has already put his name in the hat for NBA Coach of the Year, taking a Boston team that looked ripe for the tanking, and making it not entirely awful. The Celtics are No. 10 in the league in defensive efficiency (101.0 points allowed per 100 possessions) as we go to press, a remarkable performance from such an inexperienced club. The C’s are also No. 26 on offense (97.6 points/100), but hey, you can’t have everything.

If you read those numbers and said “Hey, maybe Boston’s a good UNDER pick,” then give yourself the classic Barry Horowitz pat on the back. The Celtics have the UNDER at 13-8 this year, and 9-2 away from the TD Garden. Not sure if that’s going to help against the Knicks the way they’ve been shooting the 3-pointer lately; also, the OVER is 7-2 for New York at MSG, compared to 2-7 in away games.

Band Aid

On the injury front, the Knicks are still missing center Tyson Chandler (20.1 PER), and PF Amar’e Stoudemire (9.2 PER) needed a maintenance day off against the Magic, but everyone else is available for pretty much the first time all season. Boston, of course, is without PG Rajon Rondo (18.1 PER last year), and they’ve also been without rookie center Kelly Olynyk (9.3 PER) for the past seven games due to a sprained ankle. The Celtics are 5-2 SU and ATS in those games.

How convenient. Forget about Boston’s future; with Brandon Bass (15.6 PER) and Kris Humphries (17.6 PER) soaking up those lost Olynyk minutes, the C’s have short-term value against the NBA betting lines. Yay for instant gratification~!

NBA Pick: Take the Celtics +5.5 at The Greek