Knicks vs Celtics playoff betting preview

A pair of longtime East Coast rivals, who got a bit testy with each other earlier this season, meet again, this time in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

The second-seeded New York Knicks take on the seventh-seeded Boston Celtics in a best-of-seven Eastern Conference series starting with Game 1 Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden (3 pm ET, ABC).

In early NBA playoff betting most sportsbooks were listing the Knicks at -7.5 over the Celts for Game 1. Boston is 5-2 ATS in its past seven trips to New York.

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New York (54-28 SU, 46-34 ATS) won the Atlantic Division this season for the first time since 1994. The Knicks began the season with a six-game winning streak, then ended the season on a 16-2 run.

Sportsbook had the Knicks as -350 favorites to win the series, while the Celtics were +290.

Boston (41-40 SU, 36-42 ATS), on the other hand, finally began showing its age this season. The Celtics struggled through a good part of this campaign, then went on a 16-6 run from January into March. But Boston finished the regular season by losing 11 of its last 16 games to finish at one game above .500.

Along the way the Green Machine lost PG Rajon Rondo for the season to a knee injury. On top of that,  Paul Pierce has missed recent action with a bothersome ankle. His status for Game 1 and the rest of this series is a bit uncertain.

New York took the season series from Boston three games to one. Most recently, the Knicks beat the Celtics 108-89 at the Garden three weeks ago.

Back in January, during and after Boston's only victory over New York this season, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Garnett got into a little jawing, intensifying what had been in recent seasons a rivalry that leaned toward the Celtics.

Perhaps the worm has turned.

Also, three of the four games these teams played this season stayed UNDER on the totals.

Numerous Knicks sat out Wednesday's regular-season finale with various ailments, but only as precautions. They should be ready to go for Saturday.

But New York will play at least the first round of these playoffs without F Amare Stoudemire, as he continues his recovery from the knee surgery he had back in March.

On the NBA playoffs futures market, Sportsbook was listing New York at 16/1 to win its first NBA championship since the days of Clyde, Earl the Pearl, Willis and the rest of the boys.

Boston, meanwhile, was getting 60/1 to win its 18th league title.

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