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Look for Knicks to knock off apathetic Celtics

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Thursday features a five-game NBA slate. Only one playoff matchup is set with three days remaining on the regular-season calendar. Here are our three best bets for Thursday night.

Knicks @ Celtics (+2.5, O/U 213)

The Knicks' playoff seeding remains up in the air. They're still in play for the No. 2 seed but could also tumble in the standings and fail to host a playoff series (though that's unlikely). Regardless, New York has a lot on the line.

The Celtics don't. They clinched the No. 1 seed and are waiting for the playoffs to start. There's a decent chance Boston will rest its stars in the final games. Four of its starters were listed on Wednesday's injury report.

Even if some starters play, they won't be laser-focused and may not play the entire game. That's the only reason the Knicks are favored against the Celtics, who are 4-0 against New York.

The Knicks won three of their last four games. OG Anunoby is healthy and looked like his normal self during Tuesday's win over the Bulls. New York is 17-3 with Anunoby in the lineup.

The Knicks should keep adding to the win column in a meaningful game for them and a meaningless one for Boston.

Pick: Knicks -2.5

Jabari Smith Jr.: Over 1.5 threes

Although the Rockets are eliminated from playoff contention, Jabari Smith Jr. is having the best stretch of his season over the last month.

Smith isn't an exceptional shot-creator and has had a shaky jump shot in his two NBA seasons. However, his 3-pointer has been on target the last few weeks.

The former third overall pick shot 40% from three in March and 38% in April. He's connected on at least two 3-pointers in his last eight games. He's gaining confidence in his three, attempting seven long-distance shots per game this month.

Smith has an easy matchup against a porous Jazz defense that leads the league in opponent 3-pointers made per game.

Odds: -120

CJ McCollum: Over 23.5 points

McCollum's been on a scoring tear for the Pelicans. New Orleans needed someone to step up in Brandon Ingram's absence, and McCollum's been the guy over the last few weeks.

He's averaging 28.5 points per game this month and has scored at least 24 in six of the last seven games. In New Orleans' meeting against the Kings in January, McCollum dropped 30 points.

This is a pivotal game for the Pelicans as they attempt to remain the No. 6 seed and avoid the play-in. They'll count on McCollum to carry the scoring load.

Odds: -125

Sam Oshtry is a sports betting writer at theScore. You can follow him on X @soshtry for more betting coverage.

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