Two teams on the tail-end of a back-to-back will collide at Madison Square Garden on Sunday afternoon, with the Boston Celtics heading to face the New York Knicks.
A heavily depleted Boston team won with little trouble in Minneapolis against the Timberwolves on Saturday, while New York knocked the Hornets off in overtime.
Here are our best free NBA betting picks and predictions for Celtics vs. Knicks on May 16 at 1:00 p.m. ET.
Celtics vs Knicks game info
• Location: Madison Square Garden, New York City, NY
• Date: Sunday, May 16, 2021
• Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
• TV: ESPN
Celtics vs Knicks odds
Odds via the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.
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NBA Sharp Money and Line Movement ReportBy Patrick Everson
In the regular-season finale, New York opened -7.5 Saturday night at FanDuel and got all the way to -12.5 this morning, thanks to Boston's long list of players out today. As of 11:30 a.m. ET, New York is -12, with the Celtics taking 58 percent of spread tickets and the Knicks seeing 69 percent of spread money. The total fell from 215.5 to 211, but the Over is landing 62 percent of tickets/72 percent of money.Check out the full line movement for this game
Celtics at Knicks betting preview
Celtics: Jayson Tatum PF (Out), Evan Fournier SG (Out), Kemba Walker PG (Out), Robert Williams III C (Out), Tristan Thompson C (Out), Marcus Smart PG (Out), Jaylen Brown SG (Out).
Knicks: John Henson PF (Out), Mitchell Robinson C (Out).
Find our latest NBA injury reports.
Betting trend to know
The Knicks 7-0 ATS in their last seven games on the tail end of a back-to-back. Find more NBA betting trends for Celtics vs. Knicks.
Against the spread (ATS) pick
Boston, losers of four consecutive games straight up and ATS, snapped both skids in Minnesota without Robert Williams, Marcus Smart, Tristan Thompson, Kemba Walker and Jaylen Brown. While Brown is done for the year, everyone else was treated very carefully, with Boston locked into the seventh seed and the Eastern Conference play-in tournament.
It's a different story in New York, however. The 40-win Knicks remain in a battle for the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, as they enter the final day of the regular season with the same record as the fifth seed Hawks. While Atlanta and New York are likely jostling for home-court in the four-vs-five, there's the nightmare scenario that sees the Knicks fall to the sixth seed and face the Nets or Bucks.
Even when fully healthy, Boston has been largely outplayed by New York during the year. The Knicks' No. 1 defense has held the Celtics to 75- and 101-point efforts this year, with the C's outscored by their rivals 204-176 in 2021. New York will likely see an even more scaled-down version of Boston in the finale, with Jayson Tatum the only key piece to play Saturday — a modest 26-minute night — and he will also sit out Sunday's finale as well.
These two will enter their Sunday matchup with entirely different intensity levels, with the Celtics just looking to stay healthy in a meaningless game, and the Knicks battling for crucial seeding. Expect New York to run Boston out of the gym.
PREDICTION: Knicks -8.5 (-110)
With Tatum joining Brown on the bench in Boston's finale, that is 45.3 percent of its production on the pine against the defense allowing the fewest points per game and lowest field goal percentage in the NBA. In a standard regular-season game, this one would be heading Under, just as their two previous meetings this season did.
The circumstances of this matchup, however, will make it an even more certain Under. The Knicks should be fully expected to dictate the pace of the game — and that pace is going to be slow. New York is 30th in the NBA in pace and score the fifth-fewest points per game, as it has taken on the identity of a Tom Thibodeau team with slow, deliberate offensive sets and tenacious defense with a focus on rim protection.
The Knicks rightfully get low totals, but with New York desperate for a win and Boston likely to send out a Summer League lineup, we'll stick with the Under.
PREDICTION: Under 215.5 (-110)
First half prop pick
With the maniacally prepared Thibodeau at the helm, it should be no surprise to see the Knicks with the league's best record against the spread in the first half. New York is a shining 47-21-2 ATS in the first half this year, including a 22-12 mark at home and 9-1 over its last 10.
The Knicks are 10th in net rating on the season, but they are +2.4 in the first half, good for eighth in the NBA.
The Celtics, meanwhile, are mediocre in the first half, with a -0.1 mark good for 16th in the league, down from the 13th spot they occupy in net rating. At 33-35-2 ATS in the first half of the season, Boston has shown no signs of improvement there, going 3-7 over its last 10.
The Knicks are already the superior first-half team and will it be made even more obvious by the Celtics playing without any stakes on Sunday.
PREDICTION: Knicks First Half -6.5 (-115)
Celtics vs Knicks betting card
- Knicks -8.5 (-110)
- Under 215.5 (-110)
- Knicks First Half -6.5 (-115)
Picks made on 5/15/2021 at 8:25 p.m. ET
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