NBA Pick: Underdog Value Play Friday

LT Profits Sports Group

Friday, April 4, 2014 4:00 AM GMT

Each day LT Profits Sports seeks an overlay underdog that has a better chance of cashing than its odds, offering long term value. Here is their Underdog Value Play for Friday.

The road underdogs could be holding the value when two teams heading in the right direction square off Friday night as those Washington Wizards (39-36, 19-19 away) pay a visit to the New York Knicks (33-43, 17-21 home) at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY at 7:35 ET.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Washington as a moderate road underdog for this contest with the current line at +4 with odds of -105.

The playoff prospects of the Knicks looked to be dead in the water just a few short weeks ago, but then the Atlanta Hawks started catapulting down the Eastern Conference standings and the Knicks started winning some games, and New York has now taken over the eighth and final playoff spot in the East after a 110-81 blowout of the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday, the first time they have been this high in the conference standings since an opening night win!

Still, they may have a hard time holding on to that seeding tonight vs. a better team, as the Wizards clinched their first playoff appearance since 2008 on Wednesday, their road record of 19-19 is still better than the Knicks’ home record of 17-21 and, most importantly, the Wizards still have reason to win even with their playoff spot clinched as they trail the Nets by just 1½ (two games in the loss column) for the fifth seed.

Washington hit a bit of a bumpy road recently when it lost four out of five games, but the Wizards have regrouped nicely by winning three of their last four including doing the Knicks a favor by knocking off the Hawks last Saturday. They then wrapped up that elusive post-season berth with a 118-92 wipeout of the Boston Celtics Wednesday.

This game could very well be decided by three-point shooting as neither team is bashful about putting the ball up from long range, and Washington grades out better in three-point offense and, probably more importantly, in three-point defense.

The Wizards are ranked second in the NBA in three-point shooting at an excellent 38.8 percent, led by second leading scorer Bradley Beal at 41.6 percent beyond the arc and forward Trevor Ariza at an even better 42.1 percent. Even leading scorer John Wall has improved to 36.0 percent from long range, nearly 10 percentage points higher than his dismal 26.7 percent from three-point land last year.

Those Washington shooters are facing a Knicks’ team ranked just 24th in three-point defense at 37.1 percent.

The Knicks have won three straight games to leap into their playoff position, but they are attempting to beat the Wizards for the first time this season after losing the first two matchups with Washington, including getting nipped 102-101 here at MSG after losing 98-89 down in Washington back in November.

The Knicks are among the league leaders in three-point attempts per game but they rank only eighth in the league in making them at 37.1 percent. They have struggled in that area in their two meetings with the Wizards, and that is not surprising considering that Washington is fifth in the NBA in three-point defense allowing just a 34.7 percent success rate.

Look for Washington to win the three-point battle again tonight and that should go a long way toward at least a cover as an underdog with an outright upset not unlikely Friday.

[gameodds]5/260960/?r-1=238-92-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

NBA Pick: Wizards +4 (-105)