One day after a tough overtime loss, the New York Knicks head south to take on the Philadelphia 76ers in a matchup of the two worst teams in the East. The NBA odds like Philly in this one, but should we?
Jason’s record as of Mar. 19: 54-48-4 ATS, 5-8 Totals, minus-1.00 units ML
Who says these games don’t matter? It took a while for both the players and the crowd at MSG to get into it, but the New York Knicks and Minnesota Timberwolves ended up putting on quite a show Thursday night. After the Knicks (–2) extended the game to overtime, Minnesota pulled out the 95-92 win, moving one game ahead of New York for last place in the league standings. So much for tanking.
Next up, it’s off to the Fargo to take on the Philadelphia 76ers, who know a thing or two about tanking. But they’re not going down easy, either. Philadelphia has been a solid basketball pick for nearly two months, running up an 8-15 SU and 14-8-1 ATS record since late January. The NBA Odds for Friday’s matchup (7:00 p.m. ET, MSG) have the Sixers laying up to 5.5 points as we go to press.
They may be the worst team in the NBA, but we’ve become intrigued by the Knicks (14-54 SU, 27-39-2 ATS) as a potential “buy low” candidate. They haven’t been as consistent as we’d like; New York has only covered four of its last eight games, but that included a nigh-unfathomable 104-100 overtime victory over the defending champion San Antonio Spurs (–14.5 away).
Just about everything that the Knicks are doing right these days, they did against San Antonio. Alexey Shved (21.5 PER) had 21 points, and swatted away a Tim Duncan pass in overtime to maintain New York’s lead. Lou Amundson (15.2 PER) had a career-high 17 rebounds, and Langston Galloway (12.6 PER) scored 22 points on 10-of-18 shooting. Andrea Bargnani (16.9 PER) even had three blocks in one of his better all-around performances.
Alas, things started breaking down against the Wolves. The Knicks only hit four of their 20 attempts from long range; Shved was 0-for-7, and everyone not named Galloway was a combined 1-for-5. Maybe it would have helped if Tim Hardaway Jr. (12.2 PER, 34.0 3P%) hadn’t hurt his wrist Sunday in Phoenix. Hardaway’s missed two games and is uncertain for Friday, as is Cleanthony Early (7.2 PER) with a sprained left ankle.
Call Me Ish
The Sixers (16-52 SU, 34-32-2 ATS) are the reason we’re in the red on the moneyline, but they’ve done us some good over the past few weeks. Again, the consistency hasn’t always been there, as you might expect from a collection of prospects and suspects. But Philadelphia got it right Wednesday against the Detroit Pistons, winning 94-83 as a one-point home chalk. Props to Ish Smith (14.6 PER), who took over the starting point guard job from Isaiah Canaan (11.7 PER) and hasn’t done a bad job of it. We never doubted you, honest.
Props as well to Thomas Robinson (20.3 PER), who was unceremoniously dumped onto the scrap heap by the Denver Nuggets after they acquired him in the Aaron Afflalo trade with Portland. That’s no way to treat a relatively competent defensive player (plus-0.9 DBPM) who’s grabbed 12.2 rebounds every 36 minutes since joining the league in 2012. Robinson had 12 points and six boards in just 16 minutes against Detroit.
He might be even busier on Friday. Nerlens Noel (13.8 PER) suffered a contusion on his right foot against the Pistons and didn’t return to the game, although he was on the bench – a good sign for his availability versus the Knicks. Ideally, we’d like to verify that Noel is available before making our NBA picks, especially with the odds already published. So let’s do just that and roll with the Sixers, conditionally.
Free NBA Pick: Take the 76ers (if Noel plays) at BetOnline