Knicks, Hornets to Keep Potential Mismatches Close Enough to Cover

Troy Haliburton

Thursday, February 8, 2018 5:37 PM UTC

Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018 5:37 PM UTC

Two teams with losing records hit the road against tougher competition, but there could be betting value in taking underdog New York and Charlotte with the points.

Thursday NBA: Knicks vs. RaptorsFree NBA Pick: Knicks +14Best Line Offered: Bovada

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The Knicks will have to adjust to life without their lone All-Star, Kristaps Porzingis, after the Latvian forward tore his ACL in a dunk attempt Tuesday night. The Raptors, on the other hand, are on the opposite end of the spectrum with their season prospectus. Toronto will be approaching the trade deadline looking to add players so they can make a run and challenge for a spot to the NBA Finals.

The Raptors just routed the Celtics 111-91 to pull within one game of them for first place in the Eastern Conference. Part of the Raptors' resurgence is their newfound depth. Toronto boasts a lineup that legitimately goes 10-12 players deep and allows them to play consistently, even when one of their players might be out. Some of the more surprising players who have played well for the Raptors include Delon Wright, Fred VanVleet, and CJ Miles. Miles scored 20 points in the win over the Celtics and has added a three-point shooting dimension to the Raptors.

Toronto changed its style of play in the offseason to more closely resemble the new age of basketball and adapt to the pace and space era. Part of that has included not taking as many long two’s and adding people who are capable three-point shooters.

The Raptors will likely win tonight's game, but the 14-point spread on the NBA odds board is way too much. With my NBA picks, look for Michael Beasley to lead to the Knicks to a big cover.

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Courtney Lee on how Kristaps Porzingis will approach rehab:

— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) February 8, 2018

Thursday NBA: Hornets vs. Trail BlazersFree NBA Pick: Hornets +5Best Line Offered: 5Dimes

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The Hornets have struggled all season to find an identity, but finally staying healthy has helped them win their last three games and keep their playoff hopes alive. Kemba Walker is playing as good as ever and, if it wasn't for Charlotte's record, he would have the best case for complaining about being snubbed for the All-Star team.

Walker is not only responsible for setting up his teammates, especially Dwight Howard who has to be spoon-fed the ball so he can score, but also attack and score himself. Walker leads the Hornets in scoring at 22.7 points per game on 46-percent shooting from the field and 36 percent from three-point range. He has worked hard to improve his deep shot, and this week he became the Hornets franchise leader in three-point makes. Walker is a big reason the Hornets are slowly figuring out how to play better on offense.

Portland is establishing itself as a force to be reckoned with in the Western Conference. Jusuf Nurkic allows the Blazers to run more pick-and-roll action with dynamic guards CJ McCollum and Damian Lillar.

Surprisingly, the Blazers do not do the best job of covering spreads at home with an ATS record of 10-12-1 this season. The Hornets are 5-point underdogs tonight, and with my NBA picks I think their newfound scoring prowess will lead them to at least cover the number on the NBA odds board.

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