The 2011-2012 NBA season finally tips off on Christmas day with a slew of great games featuring the league’s best teams. The first game of the day features a classic Eastern conference rivalry with the Boston Celtics playing against the New York Knicks.

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The odds for NBA Christmas Day were released with the Knicks listed as slim one-point favorites. This is basically due to the fact that the game will be played at Madison Square Garden. The early betting trends indicate that 61% of the betting public is backing the new-look Knicks to win their first game of the season.

The Knicks have had a very good, but short off-season. The Knicks acquired Tyson Chandler and immediately added size and defense to a team that was in desperate need. They followed that up by signing veteran point-guard Baron Davis.

For the Boston Celtics the off-season has been counter-productive. General Manager has attempted to bring in talent via trades, but has been unsuccessful. Chris Paul refused to sign a long-term deal with Boston and instead went to the west coast. David West was also targeted but he ended up in Indiana. To make matters worse the Celtics lost Jeff Green for the season and the age and depth of this team will come into question more than in recent years.

Paul Pierce is going through an injury, but expect him to play in this game.

The Knicks may have had a better off-season, but that does not always equate to a quick start. In fact, the Knicks already have some question marks going into opening day.

“It’s too early and too quick,” Mike D’Antoni said on Tuesday. “You’re always going to have some trepidation.”

D’Antoni still has no idea who will start in his backcourt although Toney Douglas and Landry Fields are the expected starters. The biggest challenge for the Knicks will be getting new players to mesh with the old players while using D’Antoni’s system. This has already proven to be a difficult task in the preseason.

The Celtics are older, but they do have one thing over the Knicks, chemistry. With the exception of Glenn “Big Baby” Davis who was traded to Orlando, the Celtics have a team that is very familiar to playing with one another.

The Knicks maybe a better team overall when the season concludes, but for right now, the Celtics are the better team and it will show on Christmas day.

NBA Christmas Picks Against the Spread: Boston Celtics +1