NBA Picks 76ers vs. Knicks

Doug Upstone

Wednesday, January 22, 2014 4:12 PM GMT

This explains how bad the Eastern Conference is. Both Philadelphia and New York are more than 10 games below .500, yet if either started a five-game winning streak beginning tonight, they could thrust themselves into the seventh or eighth spot in the playoff picture with just under half the regular season left. You have to be a really sharp NBA basketball handicapper to find edges when bad teams like this meet.

For the Most Part, Philadelphia is Who We Thought Were

Sportsbooks who set the betting odds were convinced the 76ers were going to be the worst team in the NBA and posted a season win total of 16.5 on them. Philadelphia’s 3-0 start caught everyone by surprise and they are at 13-28 (17-24 ATS) at the midway juncture of the season, giving the impression they will surpass expectations.

Besides the opening salvo, the Sixers took full advantage of a West Coast swing starting Dec. 29, winning four in a row at the Lakers, Denver, Sacramento and Portland as an underdog in the 7-to-12 point range.

But as the title of this paragraph states, with a nod to former Arizona Cardinals head coach Dennis Green for his famous rant, Philadelphia is still a wretched basketball team that most nights does not have the capacity to compete.

The 76ers have the second–worst score differential in the NBA at -8.7, with only Milwaukee (-9.2) worse. Those setting the betting odds have made them an underdog of nine a more points a whopping 14 times, the most in the league. And it is easy to understand why, since they allow 109.9 points per game, the poorest by a jaw-dropping four points.

To put that into perspective, Portland is the top-scoring team in the Association at 109.6 PPG and based on their scoring results this season, if they allowed as many points as the Sixers; they would have the same results at 13-28.

Granted, Philly is a young basketball team with almost no bench, but first-year coach Brett Brown has to extract more effort from a team that is next to last in percentage three-point shots allowed (26.7) and fastbreak points conceded (16.4).

Knicks Failing on All Fronts

As bad as Philadelphia is, they only trail New York by two games in the loss column and their expectations were far different coming into the season.

The Knicks teased their fan base earlier this month with a five-game winning streak; supplying hope they were turning a dismal season around. Even those making NBA picks were taking a second look at New York as they started 2014 campaign 6-0 against the spread.

But these are the Knickerbockers, assembled not as a team, but as individuals whose skills do not match one another and whose selective attitudes have little to do with playing as a unit.

When the Knicks were in the midst nine-game losing streak (1-8 ATS), several players expressed concerns about the health of their coach Mike Woodson. Of course being the Knicks, instead of playing harder for the beleaguered coach, they just talked about it went on losing.

Off another horrific showing on Monday in being blown out by Brooklyn 103-80 at The Garden as two-point underdogs, it seems clear the direction of this team.

Carmelo Anthony is playing like he wants to leave, after wanting to be a part of the bigger stage in the Big Apple. Just saying the name J.R. Smith creates mental pictures of a dysfunctional player who has a hard time being focused on a good team, let alone one that is 15-26 (16-25 ATS).

Point guard Raymond Felton has to play well to give the Knicks even a sniff at winning and between injuries and poor play, he’s been more of a liability. Add in older more injury-plagued players like Amar’e Stoudemire, Kenyon Martin, Tyson Chandler and Metta World Peace and one has to wonder how much coach Woodson can take.

Betting Odds, Scheduling and Head to Head Meetings

The NBA odds opened with New York -7.5, with a total of 203.

Philadelphia concludes a three-game road trip tonight (5-16, 10-11 ATS), before heading home to face Toronto, Oklahoma City and Phoenix.

New York is in the midst of a seven-game homestand, which is set up for success, playing with a day off between each contest. However, they are 7-14 and 5-16 ATS at home.

The Knicks are 6-2 and 5-3 ATS the past three seasons, including 3-1 and 2-2 ATS at home. Five of the eight meetings have gone UNDER with a 2-2 split in the city that never sleeps.

The Choice

Really not much to like either way, but given Philadelphia’s defense, New York should be able to beat the number on their own floor, we'll add the Knicks to our NBA picks for tonght.

NBA Free Pick – New York by 9 points

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