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Celtics vs. Knicks Wednesday NBA injury report, odds, spread, pick: Jaylen Brown will play; Al Horford, Nerlens Noel will not

The Celtics and Knicks open their season tonight from Madison Square Garden.
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The Boston Celtics and New York Knicks are bitter rivals regardless, but tonight's season opener between the two will get a bit of added spice because it's the Kemba Walker Revenge Game. The former Celtics All-Star point guard was dealt in a salary dump this offseason to Oklahoma City, but then eventually bought out and signed with his hometown Knicks. Boston will have All-Star guard Jaylen Brown in the lineup but not forward Al Horford. New York will most likely be without big man Nerlens Noel. The Knicks are short favorites at Caesars Sportsbook. Click here for model picks. 

Knicks fans were giddy when Walker was signed as he was a high school legend in the Bronx and became a collegiate superstar at Madison Square Garden while a junior at UConn in the 2011 Big East Tournament in which Walker put on an unprecedented show. Walker averaged 19.3 points, 4.9 assists and 4.0 rebounds in 43 games (all starts) for the Celtics last season. Boston effectively replaced Walker with free agent Dennis Schroder, but he will come off the bench.

As for Noel, he doesn't provide much offense but is a terrific rebounder and shot-blocker and is listed as doubtful with a sore left knee. No need to push Noel this early. The Knicks likely will start Mitchell Robinson at center.

Brown was in question early Wednesday because he recently came out of COVID isolation and his conditioning was in question, but he will start – very much a possibility that Brown's minutes are somewhat limited. Brown did test positive for COVID and said he had "some mild symptoms for the most part," including some breathing issues. Brown had a career 2020-21 season in being named an All-Star, averaging 24.7 points and 6.0 rebounds. Out for sure in COVID protocols is Horford, who was part of the package back for Walker from Oklahoma City.

This will be the Celtics head coaching debut of Ime Udoka – former coach Brad Stevens was kicked upstairs after last season when Danny Ainge left.

New York was 2-1 vs. Boston last season and all three were low-scoring; the Knicks led the NBA in scoring defense. The total tonight is 216.5 points. The Under is 6-1 in the past seven meetings. This writer is on the Knicks' moneyline. 

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