The Knicks have surprised some people with their respectable 5-6 start, but that pretty good fortune should not last much longer and their descent to earth could start vs. the Hornets.
The over-achieving home team could be in for a rude awakening Tuesday night vs. a playoff hopeful road team when the Charlotte Hornets (5-5, 6-3-1 ATS) pay a visit to those overachieving New York Knicks (5-6, 7-4 ATS) at historic Madison Square Garden in New York, NY at 7:35 ET in a game available on MSG.
The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Charlotte as a tiny road favorite for this contest with the current line at -1 with odds of -105.
Just Beat Knicks in Charlotte
The Hornets began this season 0-3, but they are hitting their stride now as that have gone 5-2 since then, a steak that includes a come-from-behind 95-93 win over the Knicks in Charlotte last Wednesday where they overcame a 10-point deficit at the beginning of the fourth quarter. The Hornets are looking to make a return trip to the NBA Playoffs after making the post-season last year as we see no reason why they should not make it back.
The Knicks are now just one-half game worse than Charlotte in the Eastern Conference after being the winning NBA picks 95-87 over the 1-9 New Orleans Pelicans here at home at MSG on Sunday. However, we firmly believe that the Knicks decent start to this season is just Fool’s Gold as this should again be one of the worst teams in the entire NBA by the time this year is through.
Batum a Key Addition
The Hornets are a fundamentally sound team under Coach Steve Clifford that does everything well without blowing you away in any one category, although the addition of Nicolas Batum during the off-season to fortify the starting lineup was a key addition and Batum is flourishing in his new home.
Batum played small forward while he was with the Portland Trail Blazers, but he has been moved to shooting guard for Charlotte with Kemba Walker running the point, and he has responded by averaging 28.3 points over the last three games including putting up 33 points vs. his former team from Portland in a 106-94 win on Sunday in which Charlotte led by 26 points at halftime before basically coasting home, make that final score deceptive.
And besides that now very solid backcourt, do not forget about big Al Jefferson in the middle as he remains one of the more underrated centers in the league while forward Marvin Williams has done a lot of the dirty work while leading the team in rebounding and blocked shots. Add in a nice bench with the likes of Jeremy Lamb, Jeremy Lin and Cody Zeller and the Hornets have a chance to finish with their highest seeding in franchise history this year.
Just One Good Win
And then there is the Knicks, a team that may have caught the Raptors by surprise in Toronto but that does not have another win vs. a team that is currently over .500, with some of their conquests including the aforementioned Pelicans and the 2-9 Los Angeles Lakers. This is still a team that won just 17 games last season and we felt that their posted win total before this season of 29½ seemed a bit too optimistic.
Sure New York brought in some new talent in an attempt to help what was a struggling offense last year and the Knicks also hope to get a full season out of Carmelo Anthony, but the improvement has simply not been there numbers wise as they rank 21st in the league in scoring with 98.5 points per game through the early going, 26th in field goal percentage at 42.1 percent and 25th in three-point shooting at 31.0 percent.
Some have suggested that the Knicks may be one player away from being playoff contenders in an Eastern Conference that looks weak as usual, but we do not share that belief as we feel that the Hornets are the team with both better talent here and with more potential to upset someone once the playoffs do arrive.
Loving the Big Apple
Finally, the Hornets have certainly not been intimidated by their trips to Madison Square Garden as they are now 6-1 ATS in their last seven visits to the “World’s Most Famous Arena.” Also, the Hornets are 18-7-2 ATS in their last 27 road games vs. teams with losing home records, while the Knicks are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games following a straight up win.
Look for those patterns to continue and for Charlotte to show that it is the only real contender to make the playoffs between these two teams when it makes a trip to New York on Tuesday.
NBA Pick: Hornets -1 (-105)