The Knicks can win because…
Their opponent is just not very good. Let’s look at New Orleans on a deeper statistical level: the Pelicans are seven games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. They are pretty much a break-even team at home (13-12), which is the mark of a losing NBA team, since road records are generally going to be a lot worse than home records. New Orleans is one of five Western Conference teams with a negative point differential. The Pelicans score under 100 points per game and give up more than 101.
This team won only five games in the entire month of January, a clear and convincing sign that a roster full of young players is not yet ready to handle the 82-game grind of a full season. They’re playing poorly and have no confidence. The Knicks are worth a look with your NBA picks because they can take advantage of that.
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The Pelicans can win because…
Their opponent is a mess and more specifically, in a position to doubt itself for the rest of the regular season. The Knicks are immersed in a crisis of confidence. They have been affected by injuries this season and hampered by the unwise personal decisions of some players (J.R. Smith), the personnel moves made by management and sanctioned by owner James Dolan (such as the acquisition of Andrea Bargnani) and the decline in quality of players such as Raymond Felton and Iman Shumpert.
The Knicks and their fans might be inclined to blame head coach Mike Woodson for this situation, but Woodson just doesn’t have a very good roster to work with compared to last season. New Orleans has a better record than the Knicks despite playing in the much tougher Western Conference, which means this game should move in their direction on the NBA odds.
This is a case in which a young team from a smaller market should have a lot more enthusiasm than a bloated, underachieving big-market team. The next two months could get really ugly for the Knicks, starting on Wednesday.
Pick: New Orleans -4