(19-4, 13-9-1 ATS)
New York Knicks
(16-9, 17-7-1 ATS)
Two of the hottest teams in the NBA duke it out on the court of the hallowed Madison Square Garden, where the Boston Celtics will face the New York Knicks.
The C’s have won ten games in a row and are a solid 6-3-1 ATS in that stretch. They have won six of the ten games by double digits and have averaged beating up those ten foes by 14.6 points per game. The most emphatic romp of the bunch came four nights ago against the Charlotte Bobcats, the most recent game on this three game swing. Boston held the Cats to just 33.8 percent shooting from the floor and forced 22 turnovers in a 93-62 romp. Charlotte didn’t score more than 16 points in any quarter in the most embarrassing offensive effort of the season. You simply have to shoot the ball well against the C’s if you think you’re winning. They shoot 50.7 percent from the floor and can throw a ton of scoring options at you in any given game. The fifth member of the starting five, C Shaquille O’Neal hopes to be back tonight to help out his mates in the Garden, as he has been nursing a calf injury and hasn’t played serious minutes in over a week. The Big Fella is one of six players on Boston that are averaging at least 11 points per game this year. G Rajon Rondo still leads the NBA in assists at 13.7 per game even though he is going off of a lousy effort of seven points, eight assists, five boards, and six turnovers against the Bobcats.
This can be a tremendous game for the young Knicks, who can make a statement that the Atlantic Division is legitimately up in the air and not just a runaway for the Celtics. New York has won eight in a row and is 13-1 in its last 14 games, going 12-2 ATS in that stretch as well. The play of F Amare Stoudemire has been amazing, as there simply isn’t a team or a player out there that can apparently stop him. The big man is averaging 26.2 points and 9.1 boards per game, and he has scored at least 30 in eight straight, averaging 33.9 points and 12.1 rebounds per game in this run. The problem that Stoudemire and the Knicks have at times is that they turnover the basketball far too much. Stoudemire had an 11 turnover night against the Washington Wizards last week, and the team is averaging almost 15 per game. This is turning into a lot of fast break points on the other end of the court. The good news is that the Knicks are averaging 108.5 points per game this year, giving them the top offense in the NBA.
Though this one is at MSG and is a big time battle, we just tend to believe that there are going to be too many New York mistakes for it to overcome. The Celtics make teams like this pay for their blunders all the time, and this should be no exception. Boston should leave the Empire State with a big time win on Wednesday.
NBA Free Pick: Boston Celtics -3.5