The New York Knicks have been one of the best against the spread teams in the NBA this season. But that has largely been at home, and this week the Knicks are on a three-game road trip.
A lot of people were left shaking their heads, including some within the organization, when Knicks team president Phil Jackson hired Jeff Hornacek as his head coach this offseason. After all, Hornacek wasn't one of those disciples in the triangle offense that Jackson is a total believer in and what helped the Zen Master win 11 NBA championship rings as a head coach. Well, it also helped Jackson he had players like Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant too.
But Jackson was fond of Hornacek as a player. As a guard with the Utah Jazz, Hornacek competed against Jackson's Chicago Bulls in two NBA Finals. And so far so good with the hiring as the Knicks are 16-14 entering this week and should be a playoff team after winning just 48 combined games the previous two seasons. From a betting perspective, New York has been a great choice many nights on NBA picks with an 18-12 ATS mark. No team has a better home ATS record than the Knicks' 11-5 mark.
Is their success sustainable? Perhaps if Derrick Rose stays healthy, although that has obviously been a problem ever since he was the NBA's youngest-ever MVP with the Chicago Bulls in the 2010-11 season. Rose will never be that guy again after all those knee problems, but he has missed only a few games this year and that was due to his back. Rose is averaging 17.1 points, 4.4 assists and 4.0 rebounds and should cash in big time as a free agent next summer. Most believe he will re-sign with the Knicks. Jackson's free-agent signing of another former Bulls star, Joakim Noah, hasn't worked out too well as he looks way past his prime and got $72 million over four years. The Knicks are actually 4-0 in games Noah doesn't play. The team is probably better off playing Kyle O'Quinn instead of Noah at this point. When O'Quinn plays at least 17 minutes, the Knicks are 9-3.
But the star of the Knicks and arguably the most popular athlete in New York these days -- all due respect to leading scorer Carmelo Anthony -- is Latvian big man Kristaps Porzingis. He has been Jackson's best move, selecting the relative unknown at No. 4 overall in the 2015 draft. Knicks fans booed the pick on draft day but know they love the "Unicorn."
Porzingis, who is averaging 20.0 points and 7.7 rebounds, became the first player in NBA history with at least 45 blocks and 55 made 3-pointers through the first 25 team games of a season. Porzingis played his 100th career NBA game on Dec. 20 against the Pacers and was the first player ever with at least 1,500 points, 185 blocks and 140 made 3-pointers through his first 100 games of his NBA career.
New York has been great in close games this season even after a 119-114 home loss to Boston on Christmas. The Knicks are 6-1 in games decided by four-or-fewer points this season. They are 14-1 when leading after three quarters.
All that said, the Knicks might not be looking at a good week as they spend it all on the road, where the team is 5-9 overall and 7-7 ATS on NBA odds. On Wednesday, they visit Atlanta, although New York has won the past three meetings. The Hawks visited the Garden on Nov. 20 and New York won 104-94 behind 31 from Anthony. On Friday, the Knicks go to New Orleans for the first meeting of the season between the two.
And on Saturday it's a trip to Houston. The Knicks are 3-2 on the front end of back-to-backs but 0-5 on the back end this year. The Rockets won at the Garden 118-99 on Nov. 2 behind 30 points and 15 assists from James Harden.
New York is +1600 at BetOnline to win the Atlantic Division. The Raptors are -240 favorites there.