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Celtics, Knicks both working new faces into the lineup

Jayson Tatum's Celtics are underdogs in the Boston vs New York odds - Oct. 20.

After failing to reach the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2016, Boston made a coaching change and shipped several players out of town. The new-look Celtics opened as underdogs at New York, which made a couple of big moves of its own to improve its offense. Boston has won five of its last six at Madison Square Garden.


Boston Celtics at New York Knicks
  • Date/Time: October 20, 7:30 p.m. ET
  • Arena: Madison Square Garden
  • TV Coverage: ESPN
  • Opening Odds: Knicks -1 | O/U 217.5 (Line History)
  • Celtics vs Knicks (Matchup Report)

Opening Odds Analysis

The Knicks opened as short one-point home favorites but had been bet up to two-point chalk as of Tuesday night. The total had also ticked up a point to 218.5, which would be the second-highest total in the last 15 matchups between these Atlantic Division rivals.

Boston News & Notes

It might take some time for the Celtics to jell under first-year head coach Ime Udoka, especially after Boston opted to play just four preseason games. Udoka is hardly the only change from last year’s squad, either. Gone are Kemba Walker, Evan Fournier and Tristan Thompson, while newcomers include Al Horford, Dennis Schroder, Enes Kanter and Josh Richardson.

At least Udoka is familiar with the Celtics’ superstar duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, having coached both of them for the USA national team and schemed against them as an assistant coach the past few playoffs for Philadelphia and Brooklyn. Brown missed time during the preseason after testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, but he was listed as active Tuesday for the opener. Horford, however, will miss the season opener due to a positive COVID test last week.

New York News & Notes

Defense was the biggest reason the Knicks made their first playoff appearance in nearly a decade last season. New York became just the second team in NBA history to lead the league in fewest points against, lowest field goal percentage against and lowest three-point against. As long as head coach Tom Thibodeau is running the show, it’s safe to expect that max intensity on the defensive end to continue.

Where the Knicks might look a lot different this year is at the offensive end of the floor, where they ranked 26th in the Association last season with 107 points per game. New York addressed that lack of scoring punch by acquiring Fournier and Walker while retaining its top five scorers from last year, including All-Star forward Julius Randle.

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How Boston Will Cover

Tatum and Brown had little issues scoring against the Knicks last year, averaging 25.0 and 26.3 points respectively versus New York. With so much offseason change in Boston, the Celtics’ star duo will need to carry the offensive load early until the rest of their new teammates settle in.

How New York Will Cover

The Knicks’ offense should be better this year, but it could also take a bit of time for Walker and Fournier to hit their stride. Until that happens, any success New York enjoys will likely be anchored by its effort at the defensive end of the floor.

Computer Pick: Boston +2

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Shark Bites
  • Boston is 5-1 SU in its last six road games vs New York.
  • New York is 14-5 ATS in its last 19 games as a home favorite.
  • The total has gone UNDER in six of the last seven meetings.