Playoff races are heating up, and so is the draft lottery chase where the New York Knicks lead the way in advance of their Saturday night NBA odds collision with Toronto.
Watching the Philadelphia 76ers rebuild under general manager Sam Hinkie is about the same as watching your everyday ordinary government project in operation, a never-ending boondoggle if there ever was one. Apparently, Hinkie's goal is to acquire every 1st-round pick in an upcoming NBA Draft, and that will somehow ensure a championship.
Hinkie's open tanking policy is definitely going to get the Sixers a high draft pick this year, but if his aim was the most ping pong balls in the lottery, his team will have to have a greater sense of urgency when it comes to losing. That's because as bad as Philadelphia is, the New York Knicks are even worse.
Madison Square Garden in New York is the site for the Knicks' next chance to lose another game, the Toronto Raptors the next potential benefactor of this woeful collection of talent that Phil Jackson and Steve Mills have assembled for head coach Derek Fisher. Tip-off is 7:30 PM (ET) with the MSG Network beaming the action across the digital airwaves.
Toronto opened as 14 point chalk, that spread dropping a bit at most shops monitored by SBR's live NBA odds. Likewise, the total has fallen from an initial 196 to 194.
Season Series Finds Raptors Up Two-Love
It's the third get-together of the season for the Raptors and Knicks, and second to be played in New York. Toronto has won both of the previous encounters after the clubs split their four meetings a year ago, but the Knickerbockers covered both affairs.
The first matchup at MSG came in mid-December, the Raptors posting a 95-90 overtime decision as 6½ point road chalk. Kyle Lowry paced Toronto with a double-double (21 points, 11 assists) while Carmelo Anthony ripped the nets for 34 points in a losing effort for the Knicks.
That one never made it to the total (200½) despite the extra period, leaving eight of the last 13 in New York short of the totals.
Raptors Look To End 4-Game Skid
Toronto ( 37-21 straight up, 27-30-1 against the spread) spent most of the past week traveling through the south, and not only did the Raptors lose all three games on the trip through Houston, New Orleans and Dallas, they failed to cover any of them.
Life didn't get any better back home on Friday against Golden State. The Warriors jumped to a big 16-point lead in the first quarter and never looked back in a 113-89 rout, a game in which the Raptors were getting 2 points from the sports books and entered the fourth quarter trailing 98-57.
Knicks Off Road Upset In Motown
It took a couple of overtimes and a pair of double-doubles, but New York (11-46 SU, 22-33-2 ATS) ended an 8-game losing streak Friday night in Detroit with a 121-115 victory. Underdogs by +13½, the Knicks rallied from a 12-point halftime deficit to gain just their fourth road win in 29 tries this year.
Andrea Bargnani led the way with 25 points along with a dozen rebounds, and Lou Amundson added 17 points, 14 boards plus three blocks.
Coming up with free NBA picks is basically a coin flipping exercise for yours truly, and this time it came up heads which means the home team plus the points.
My Free NBA Pick: New York +13.5 at Bookmaker