The Boston Celtics head to Madison Square Garden to take on the New York Knicks. Both teams need to win this Atlantic division battle considering they’ve both underachieved up to this point this season. Neither team can seem to find any consistency, but it’s still early enough in the season for them to turn things around. Here is all you need to know for your NBA picks.
Boston Celtics vs. New York Knicks
Thursday, January 06, 2022 – 07:30 PM EST at Madison Square Garden
Celtics Need Tatum to Get Going
This has been a rough season for Jayson Tatum so far which seems like a strange thing to say for a player averaging 25 points per game. If you look closer at his overall numbers, he is not getting those points very efficiently.
Up until this season, Tatum has improved considerably as a player. It's not to say that won't be the case this year, after all, we still have a long way to go in the season. The thing is, expectations are high in Boston and so far, Tatum is not living up to those expectations.
It's hard to blame his team's lack of success on him but at the moment, Boston is so top-heavy that there is an over-reliance on him. What is obvious at this point is unless he gets back closer to the player we know he is as opposed to the player we've seen so far, Boston's ceiling isn't very high.
To give you a better idea of Tatum's struggles, in the two previous seasons to this one, he was averaging 25 per game on 46% from the field and 39% from three. Now his splits are 25ppg on 41% from the field and 32% from three. That three-point percentage is really bad considering he's taking 8.4 a game, the highest of his career.
If Tatum plays well tonight, I expect Boston to win this first quarter. Tatum was horrible the last time these two teams played, which was on the opening day of the season. He went 7-30 from the field in a performance that almost seemed to set the tone for his season. Jaylen Brown for his part picked up the slack with 46 points although the Celtics ultimately lost. They however won the rematch in Boston.
First Quarter Spread Has Value Here
I think Brown and Tatum look to be assertive early in this one for several reasons. Brown for his part has been great this season and seems to have taken his game to another level. He is averaging 40 ppg in his last two games and 33.5 in his last four. Tatum for his part struggled in their last game but that was after a long period of inactivity. I'm also taking the Celtics in the first quarter because of a recent trend that I've noticed.
Boston is 4th in the league in 1st quarter net rating for the last month. That is despite having a losing record during that same span. If there is one place you know they'll be up for the first quarter, it's going to be MSG, especially after losing in triple overtime the last time they were there.
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