Eastern Conference Picks: Celtics host Knicks in playoff preview

New York Knicks at Boston Celtics, TD Garden, Boston, MA
Wednesday, April 13, 2011, 8:00 pm Eastern, TV:  MSG
Opening Line: Celtics -1
Current Line: Celtics -2
Opening Total: 198
Current Total: 196.5
Money Line: Click here for current NBA lines

Celtics Knicks NBA Game Preview
Expect Boston head coach Doc Rivers to play reserves again in the regular-season finale against New York.

The sixth-seeded New York Knicks (42-39) and third-seeded Boston Celtics (55-26) will meet in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs this weekend, so bettors should expect to see a lot of reserves when the teams play on Wednesday in the regular-season finale.  The Celtics (-2) unexpectedly decided to rest their starters on Monday in a 95-94 overtime loss at Washington, conceding the #2 seed to Miami in order to make sure they would be healthier for the postseason.

Boston head coach Doc Rivers might question himself for making that move if his team advances to the second round and gives up homecourt advantage to the Heat.  But Rivers might have preferred a first-round matchup with the Knicks, who the Celts have beaten in all three previous meetings.  They had suffered their worst loss of the season at Miami 100-77 on Sunday and would have needed the Heat to lose one of their last two to have any shot at overtaking them.

New York had its seven-game losing streak snapped at home on Tuesday by top seed Chicago, 103-90.  The Knicks allowed the Bulls to scored 17 straight points and 26 of 28 during the first seven minutes of the third quarter after leading 55-52 at halftime.  Carmelo Anthony scored a team-high 21 points but missed the presence of Amar’e Stoudemire inside, as Chicago’s frontcourt duo of Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah combined for 27 points and 25 rebounds.

Stoudemire has missed the last three games due to an ankle injury, and there is no reason for him to suit up in the finale.  Shawne Williams and Ronny Turiaf did not do much in his place, totaling 16 points and seven rebounds between them.  New York will likely play more perimeter players against Boston, including Bill Walker (18 points against the Bulls) and Toney Douglas (13).  The Knicks had covered the spread in their previous five games.

The Celtics started a lineup of Jermaine O’Neal, Glen Davis, Jeff Green, Delonte West and Von Wafer against the Wizards, and you can expect to see them logging a majority of the playing time again vs. New York.  Wafer in particular had one of the worst plays in the NBA this season at Washington, missing a dunk and then celebrating without realizing the final outcome.

Boston has won seven of the last eight meetings with the Knicks, who have covered three of the past four along with five of seven.  The OVER is 5-3 in those games, but the UNDER has cashed in four straight for New York and is 4-0-1 in the past five overall for the Celtics.

Now that you have read this NBA betting preview featuring the Celtics & Knicks, check out the NBA odds on this and all the games to compare the best lines at multiple sportsbooks.

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