Jason’s record on his final NBA picks for 2013, up to November 26 inclusive:
I hate it when my contrarian bets don’t pan out. I thought the Chicago Bulls (minus Derrick Rose for the rest of the season) were undervalued going into Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers, who were playing the second of back-to-back games. The Clippers destroyed Chicago 121-85 as 6.5-point home faves. Egg, meet face.
If that’s the way the Clips are going to treat Chicago, I wouldn’t hold out too much hope for the New York Knicks (3-10 SU and ATS) on Wednesday. Los Angeles has been resting at home since running over the Bulls; New York dropped a 102-91 decision to the Portland Trail Blazers (–7) on Monday, losing for the sixth game in a row SU and ATS. The NBA odds have the Clippers favored by 10 points at Staples.
New York Crust
At some point, the basketball betting market will catch up to New York. But it’s a blue-light special until that happens. The Knicks are the most eminently fadeable team in the NBA right now – large market, star players, injuries, poor chemistry and unreasonable fans, even more so than the Brooklyn Nets. At least you can imagine the Nets figuring things out eventually.
The Knicks? They went into Tuesday’s action ranked No. 22 in the league in offensive efficiency (98.7 points per 100 possessions) and No. 27 on defense (104.5 points allowed/100). Center Tyson Chandler (20.2 PER) isn’t due back from his broken right fibula until mid-December. PG Raymond Felton (11.4 PER) is day-to-day with a pinched nerve in his left hip. New York doesn’t have nearly enough talent at those premium positions to fill the gap.
You know things are bad when PF Andrea Bargnani (16.5 PER) is your second-best player. Bargnani has been thrust into the starting frontcourt in the absence of Chandler, and while Il Mago still has that sweet stroke (51.5 eFG%), his 3.9 defensive rebounds per 36 minutes and 0.0 Defensive Win Shares aren’t going to get it done in the paint.
This is where you would normally bring out your official Amar'e Stoudemire insult sheet. But with lowered expectations comes the potential for a pleasant surprise. Stoudemire (10.9 PER), who turned 31 last week, played over 20 minutes in each of his last two games and scored in double figures both times. He still can’t defend like he used to, but if Stoudemire can get through Wednesday’s contest (10:30 p.m. ET, NBA-TV) with both knees intact, maybe he can put enough points on the board to keep New York from getting blown out.
On the Down-Low
There are just two problems with that theory: PF Blake Griffin (22.1 PER) and center DeAndre Jordan (16.0 PER). We’re all familiar with Griffin and what he can do; Jordan, meanwhile, has taken a sizable step forward in his fourth year as a starter, racking up 10.2 points, 13.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per 36 minutes. The Clippers still have plenty of work to do defensively at No. 22 overall (103.3), but they’ve climbed all the way to No. 2 on offense (108.0).
If you’re uncomfortable eating chalk, this could be a good spot to take the OVER on the total of 204.5 points. But the way the Knicks are playing, 10 points doesn’t sound all that bad. The Clippers won both of their matchups last year by double digits. We'll add them to our NBA picks, there's a very good chance they could win by triple digits on Wednesday.
NBA Pick: Take the Clippers –10 (–102) at Pinnacle