The Boston Celtics managed to lose a very winnable game Wednesday night. They’ll have an even easier matchup on Friday against the New York Knicks, who haven’t beaten the NBA odds in five straight.
Jason’s record as of Mar. 25: 61-55-4 ATS, 5-11 Totals, plus-2.15 units ML
You can’t win ‘em all, of course, but the Boston Celtics had a victory all but gift-wrapped for them Wednesday night. They were playing a Miami Heat team that was without several of its top players, including Dwyane Wade and Hassan Whiteside, but Miami managed to win 93-86 as an 8.5-point road dog. The Celtics hit just five of their 19 trey attempts and shot 25-of-37 (67.6 percent) from the free-throw line. Clank, clank.
So it’s back to the drawing board for Friday night’s matchup (7:30 p.m. ET, MSG) against an even more messed-up team, the New York Knicks. It looks like the Knicks will be without our hero, Alexey Shved, for the rest of the season with a partially fractured rib. Ouch. Friday’s NBA odds have Boston laying up to 9.5 points at Madison Square Garden.
Too Much Iron
One thing we should have taken into account with Wednesday’s basketball picks was the potential for Isaiah Thomas (20.8 PER, plus-1.2 BPM) to show some ring rust in his return from an eight-game absence. We almost certainly would have put the Celtics (31-40 SU, 41-29-1 ATS) in our NBA picks anyway, but Thomas did indeed have a tough night, scoring just four points on 2-of-7 shooting while committing three turnovers in 20 minutes off the bench. Thomas was a team-worst minus-18 for his efforts.
He was hardly the only problem. Marcus Smart (11.0 PER, plus-0.8 BPM) and Evan Turner (12.4 PER, minus-1.4 BPM) shot a combined 2-of-13 against Miami. That’s not likely to happen again on Friday, but we are looking at two guards who are better at the defensive end than they are with the ball in their hands. Boston is now 1-3 SU and ATS in its last four games, and Thomas might need another game or two to round into form.
I’m a Hed for ‘Lexey Shved
Okay, enough about the Celtics. It’s time to mourn for the greatest thing to happen to New York since Linsanity. Shved (20.7 PER, plus-2.1 BPM) was playing at an All-Star level for the Knicks (14-58 SU, 27-43-2 ATS), thrust into the spotlight after injuries and trades involving pretty much everyone else in the backcourt. He wasn’t much of a defender, but Shved was good for 20.1 points, 4.9 assists and 6.2 rebounds per 36 minutes. He’ll be missed.
As expected, Shane Larkin (10.8 PER, minus-2.2 BPM) started for the Knicks in Shved’s place Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Clippers, although it was in a backcourt combo with another point guard in Langston Galloway (11.9 PER, minus-1.5 BPM). It was ugly, folks. Larkin and Galloway combined for 13 points and five assists as New York (+15 at home) lost 111-80. Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat.
The Hand that Takes
Adding injury to insult, Galloway left the Clippers game in the first half after hurting his hand, although he came back and ended up playing 40 minutes. The undrafted rookie out of Saint Joseph’s is about as good as it gets for New York right now; if Galloway goes down, it’s up to Cleanthony Early (7.8 PER, minus-5.8 BPM) and little-used Ricky Ledo to step up.
This is a pretty easy call for us. We’re recommending the Celtics here despite their recent issues, since the Knicks clearly have it worse, and the betting market probably hasn’t been paying very close attention to these two teams anyway. We’re also pouring one out for Knicks PBO Phil Jackson, after his front office was ranked the worst in the NBA by an expert panel at ESPN. That ranking is based more on owner James Dolan, but nobody’s shedding a tear for him anytime soon.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Celtics at BetOnline