Red-hot Atlantic Division rivals collide when the Boston Celtics come to the Mecca of basketball to face the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
Boston is on a three-game run with just a single loss in its previous eight games (7-1 ATS) while New York rides a five-game winning streak and has also only tasted defeat once in its past eight outings (6-1-1 ATS).
The NBA odds are calling for a tight one, with the visitors listed as slim favorites Monday night despite playing without all-star guard Jaylen Brown.
I run down the spread and total for this classic NBA showdown and give my best NBA picks and predictions for Celtics at Knicks on February 27.
Celtics vs Knicks best odds
Celtics vs Knicks picks and predictions
A big part of the New York Knicks’ February surge has been the play of All-Star forward Julius Randle, who’s averaging more than 27 points and nine rebounds per game so far this month.
Randle is a matchup problem for many teams, with his ability to back down smaller defenders with his post prowess or beat lumbering larger foes in the face-up game. He torched this Boston Celtics team for 37 points in their most recent meeting, shooting 13-for-25 from the floor including 5 of 13 from beyond the arc.
Randle will see plenty of Boston’s three-headed monster of Al Horford, Robert Williams, and Grant Williams tonight but with Brown out and the Celtics rolling out a smaller rotation with Derrick White and Malcolm Brogdon logging more minutes, there are greater chances for mismatches and less double teams.
Randle has a point total of 25.5 tonight, so there’s a great shot he has a sound scoring effort. As for his rebounding projections, his rebounding total sits at 8.5 with the Over priced at -130.
A same-game parlay on those two Overs pays +220, but a double-double prop at +135 gives some wiggle room around the point production and asks Randle to do something that he’s done in 38 of his 62 games this season (third-most double-doubles) and in 19 of his previous 25 outings.
On top of Brown’s missing seven boards a night for Boston, the Celtics’ offense won’t be as aggressive attacking the rim without Brown’s slashing, which means the C’s settle for longer looks from outside.
The Celtics saw an uptick in 3-point attempts with Brown out for a stretch earlier this month and that perimeter play leaves longer rebounds ripe for the Knicks’ top guy on the glass, especially when checking Celtics bigs like Horford and Grant Williams, who work from the weak side perimeter and don’t contest for offensive rebounds.
My best bet: Julius Randle to record a double-double (+135)
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Celtics vs Knicks spread analysis
Most books opened the Celtics as 2-point road favorites for Monday’s divisional dance with the Knicks. That spread moved to -2.5 but has come back down to -2 and as low as Boston -1.5 with the Celtics playing without all-star guard Jaylen Brown (personal reasons).
That’s a significant absence for Boston and a roster hole worth around three points on the spread, according to some early lines that opened with the Celtics as 5-point road chalk.
Brown is averaging more than 26 points per game along with seven rebounds and is one of the better perimeter defenders in the NBA. However, the Celtics have experience playing without him in recent weeks, with Brown sitting out five games this month due to injuries.
His defense will be dearly missed against a New York team finding its stride on offense during this run. The Knicks own the top advanced offensive rating during this five-game streak and are No. 4 for the month of February, averaging almost 117 points per outing.
That said, they haven’t run into many roadblocks recently, playing defenses ranked 19th, 20th, 21st, and 26th during this current winning streak. New York scored 128 points on 51% shooting against New Orleans (ninth in defensive rating) last time out, erupting for a 73-point first half Saturday.
Boston is also enjoying a fantastic February, ranked out No. 3 in offensive rating and pouring in 120 points a contest. The Celtics have taken on stiffer competition than their Eastern counterparts, facing the likes of Philadelphia twice, Milwaukee, Memphis, and Phoenix this month.
The Knicks and Celtics last clashed back in late January with N.Y. edging the C’s 120-117 in overtime as an 8.5-point underdog in Beantown – part of a three-game slide for the Celtics on January 26. In the matchup prior, Boston blasted the Knicks 133-118 in MSG on November 5 with both teams firing over 50% success from the field.
The Celtics enter Monday’s meeting with a 34-27 ATS mark on the season, including a 16-14 ATS count on the road. The Knicks are 33-26-3 ATS overall with a 13-16-3 ATS record as hosts.
Celtics vs Knicks Over/Under analysis
This Over/Under total opened as high as 226 points before Brown was ruled out for Monday, slimming this number to as low as 222.5 before buyback ticked the total back to 223.5 points as of the morning.
As mentioned, both offenses are clicking this month, but the validity of the Knicks’ uptick is in question. When New York came up against elite defensive foes, like Philadelphia and Miami, it produced point totals of 108, 108, and 106 and stayed Under in two of those three meetings.
The Celtics are one of the better defensive clubs in the land, boasting the fourth-ranked defensive rating overall. When Boston runs into top-tier foes, it turns up the intensity on the defensive end, limiting opponents like Philadelphia, Memphis, and Phoenix to less than 110 points in their run-ins this month.
Brown’s efforts on defense are notable, but Boston has adapted to life without their All-Star guard this month. The Celtics inserted guard Derrick White into the starting rotation in those outings without Brown, going smaller in the backcourt.
White is nursing an ankle injury but is expected to play tonight, which could mean more minutes for sixth man Malcolm Brogdon and backup Sam Hauser.
The Celtics and Knicks posted a closing total of 221.5 points when they met in late January, needing overtime to go Over that total after posting 220 points in regulation. They blew away their Over/Under of 226.5 back in November, posting a collective 251 points on a hot shooting night for both sides.
On the season, Boston brings a 30-29-2 O/U to Madison Square Garden, going 10-19-1 O/U as a visitor. New York is 19-13 O/U at home, part of a 32-28-2 O/U count on the year.
Celtics vs Knicks betting trend to know
The Over is 5-1 in the last six meetings. Find more NBA betting trends for Celtics vs. Knicks.
Celtics vs Knicks game info
||Madison Square Garden, New York City, NY
||Monday, February 27, 2023
||7:30 p.m. ET
Celtics vs Knicks key injuries
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