The New York Knicks and Boston Celtics are both 25-26 and coming off a loss. The Knicks won this season’s only meeting by a 105-75 final in Boston on January 17. The Celtics shot a horrific 29.8% from the field in that game, one of only two performances this NBA season where a team was under 30%.
Boston is a 3.5-point home favorite at most NBA sportsbooks. Close losses have been plaguing both teams for weeks, so the expectations should be for another close game here.
New York Knicks vs. Boston Celtics
Wednesday, April 7, 2021 – 07:30 PM EDT at TD Garden
Since the All-Star break, the Celtics (plus-2.7) rank No. 9 in Net Rating and the Knicks (plus-2.1) rank No. 12. But among the top 17 teams in this metric, only the Celtics (6-9) and Knicks (6-8) have losing records in that time.
The Knicks have lost five games by fewer than six points in the last three weeks, including a 114-112 loss to Brooklyn on Monday night where the Nets scored the game-winning points in the final seconds. Before losing to the 76ers by 10 points on Tuesday night, Boston’s last four losses were all by fewer than seven points.
So close losses have been an issue for both teams since the break. In that time, the Celtics rank No. 9 in Offensive Rating and No. 18 in Defensive Rating. The Knicks rank No. 20 in Offensive Rating and No. 4 in Defensive Rating.
Trust the Better Defense?
Both offenses rank in the bottom four in percentage of fields goals that include an assist. The Knicks, the slowest-paced offense in the NBA, have yet to score 110 points in three consecutive games this season, but they are in position to do that on Wednesday night. The Knicks are 8-0 when they score more than 115 points this season. Boston has not won a game since the All-Star break when allowing more than 115 points, but it also has not allowed any opponent to reach that total in seven straight games.
For the season, New York’s defense allows the fewest fast break points per game and the third-fewest points in the paint. New York still ranks No. 1 in opponent FG% (.441) and opponent 3P% (.335). The Knicks have allowed a league-low four teams to shoot 50% or better from the field in a game this season. Every other team has allowed at least seven such games. Boston’s defense has allowed 13 such games.
As mentioned before, the Celtics had one of the worst shooting games of any team this season against the Knicks in January. Boston scored a season-low 75 points. Jayson Tatum was out for that game and he has scored at least 20 points in seven straight games.
The Celtics are 19-2 when scoring more than 115 points this season. However, against the current top five defenses (Lakers, 76ers, Jazz, Knicks, and Suns), the Celtics are 0-8 and never scored more than 110 points or shot at least 50% in any of the games.
While the Knicks may not have a flashy offense, they at least have a defense to rely on for success. Boston is not a top 10 team at either end of the court; hence the Celtics have an abysmal 1-20 record this season when they do not score more than 110 points. On the other side, the Knicks lead the NBA with 14 wins when not scoring more than 110 points.
Grinding out a low-scoring win is not in this Boston team’s nature. On Tuesday night against Philadelphia, the Celtics were sloppy with 22 turnovers, their highest total in a game this season.
The Knicks (29-21-1 ATS) have the fourth-best spread record in the NBA this season. They are a solid 11-7 ATS as a road underdog as well. Boston is 4-6 ATS when playing on no rest, and New York has the best spread record (10-3-1) with rest advantage.
The Knicks also have the second-best spread record in conference games this season at 21-12-1. I am going to trust New York’s defense to keep the score low and the game winnable for the Knicks in my NBA picks on Wednesday night.
*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.