Welcome to the Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, edition of the NBA Best Bets column. Here, I’ll strive to identify one NBA bet for tonight I feel has profit potential at DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, 888 Sportsbook and BetStars Sportsbook.
Depending on the circumstance, I’ll hone in on moneylines, point spreads or projected totals. Sometimes I may even touch on multiple metrics. Then, I’ll take you on a fairly deep dive as to why.
Please note we’ll be referencing only legal, regulated sportsbook betting odds and totals here at PlayPicks. A “pick” is a wager that, as of the time of this writing, we feel confident recommending. A “lean” is a wager we favor over the other side. This play could end up on our card with the release of additional information.
Season to Date:
ATS Picks: 17-9 (.654)
ATS Leans: 4-4 (.500)
Moneyline: 9-3 (.750)
Over/Under: 4-2 (.667)
12/6/18 NBA Betting Pick:
New York Knicks (8-17) at Boston Celtics (13-10)
Over/Under Total: 218.0
Forced to open the season without star forward Kristaps Porzingis (knee), the Knicks figured they’d be in for an uphill battle early on. However, their atrocious 4-14 start was certainly worse than they’d feared. That stretch included both five- and six-game losing streaks. Then, New York seemed to find its groove, and against some tough competition at that. The Knicks rattled off three straight victories against the same Celtics squad they’ll face Thursday, the Pelicans and the Grizzlies. The wins over Boston and Memphis notably came on the road.
Following a pair of subsequent losses to the Pistons by seven and the Sixers by 26, the boys from the Big Apple were back to tripping up superior opponents Saturday afternoon. They prevailed by a 136-134 margin in an epic overtime battle against the Bucks at Madison Square Garden. Then, even when they’ve lost recently, it’s often been a dogfight. New York’s margin of defeat in three of their last four stumbles has been seven points or fewer.
The light has seemingly gone on for the Celtics recently as well after a relatively disappointing start to their season. Widely labeled an Eastern Conference finalist contender this summer, Boston promptly generated a pedestrian 10-10 record over their first 20 games. Granted, the schedule did them no favors, but the Celtics were thought to have the talent to transcend the overwhelming majority of matchups. They’ve righted the ship the last three games, however. Boston has prevailed over the Pelicans, Cavaliers and Timberwolves — with the first and last matchups coming on the road — by 17, 33 and nine points, respectively.
Both teams will come into Thursday’s game at or near full health. The Knicks do have one noteworthy injury in the form of reserve point guard Trey Burke (knee). However, his absence is alleviated to an extent by the recent strong play of starter Emmanuel Mudiay, who has seven double-digit scoring efforts in the last 10 games. Plus, rookie Allonzo Trier has been a revelation in the backcourt rotation — he’s averaging 11.3 PPG on 47.3 percent shooting, including 40.9 percent from distance. New York sports some offensive firepower overall. They’re averaging 108.9 points per game (including 111.3 over the last three) and boast six players with double-digit scoring averages. One of them, center Enes Kanter, is not only averaging a double-double (14.9 PPG, 11.8 RPG), but also carries an impressive Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of 22.6.
Finally, it’s worth noting the Celtics should be especially refreshed after last having taken the court Saturday. However, the significant advantage a four-day break between games would normally afford a team is somewhat neutralized in this scenario. New York isn’t particularly fatigued, either, as they’ve only played one game since Saturday themselves. They’ll walk into Thursday’s contest with two full days of rest.
By the Numbers
The Knicks are 13-10-2 (56.5 percent) versus the spread overall this season. That includes a 7-6-1 mark (53.8 percent) versus the number as an away team. The Knicks also sport a 4-2 mark (66.7 percent) against the spread in division games.
The Celtics are 10-13 (43.5 percent) versus the spread overall this season. Boston is also 2-3 (40.0 percent) against the number in division games, failing to cover by an average of 4.0 points.
The Final Word
These are two rested teams that should engage in a spirited battle. New York has given plenty of quality teams, including the Celtics, trouble recently, with their aforementioned win over Boston one of two particularly impressive road victories. While they’re unlikely to steal another one outright Thursday at TD Garden, they have enough weapons in the arsenal to slide in under a very elevated spread.
The Pick: Knicks +13.5