NBA Picks: Back Knicks In Home Finale vs. Disinterested Raptors

Matthew Jordan

Saturday, April 9, 2016 4:26 PM GMT

Saturday, Apr. 9, 2016 4:26 PM GMT

It has been another disappointing season in New York, but there should be a full house as the Knicks close their home schedule against Toronto. The Raptors are -3.5 on the NBA odds.

Raptors Awaiting Playoff Opponent
Toronto (53-26) is finishing second in the Eastern Conference and thus gets to avoid No. 1 Cleveland until the conference finals if both get there. The Raptors were first-round playoff favorites each of the past two seasons against Washington and Brooklyn but lost both series. Toronto doesn't yet know which team it will play in the conference quarterfinals that start next weekend. It will either be Indiana or Detroit.

The Raptors got great news on Thursday when forward DeMarre Carroll, the team's top free-agent acquisition this past offseason, returned from a 41-game injury absence due to knee surgery. Carroll played 14 minutes against his former Hawks team. Coach Dwane Casey said the Raptors want to "incorporate him in a little bit as we go in these last games" of the regular season. Carroll is hoping to be ready to play 25-30 minutes per game by the postseason. He's averaging 11.4 points and is a fine perimeter defender.

Toronto beat visiting Indiana 111-98 on Friday despite resting All-Star guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan  as well as Carroll and Luis Scola. Reserve Norman Powell took advantage of the increased playing time and had a season-high 27 points. The Raptors set a franchise record for home wins with 31.

On the season, the Raptors are 43-36 against the spread on NBA odds and 41-37-1 'over/under.'

 

Knicks Face Big Offseason Questions
Could this be the final home game in a Knicks uniform for Carmelo Anthony? It's doubtful but not impossible. Melo is having another very good season but yet again has missed several games due to injury and turns 32 in May. He doesn't really fit on what is clearly a rebuilding team. With the skyrocketing salary cap this summer, just about any team would be able to fit Melo into its salary cap. But Anthony also can dictate where he wants to go and my guess is he'd only agree to a trade to the Clippers or Lakers because his wife is an aspiring singer/actress and would thus want to live in either New York or Los Angeles.  Not sure the Lakers  have use for him as they are  in the same rebuilding situation as New York.

It should be noted the Knicks don't own their first-round draft pick this offseason so they only way they improve is through trade or free agency. The Knicks will certainly make a huge pitch to Kevin Durant, but he's not expected to consider the Knicks.

The other big offseason decision is team president Phil Jackson deciding on a full-time coach. Reportedly Jackson is leaning toward promoting Kurt Rambis from the interim job because Jackson and Rambis know each other very well from their Lakers days and Rambis runs Jackson's triangle offense. But Rambis' career coaching record is terrible. Anthony has asked to be consulted in any decision. Former Knicks great Patrick Ewing badly wants the job. Ewing is the top assistant for the Hornets and has been an assistant for four teams over the past 13 seasons. It's not thought Jackson will  consider Ewing. Other names linked to the job have been Tom Thibodeau, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson, all of whom have Knicks ties.

New York (32-48) completed a season sweep of the 76ers with a 109-102 victory in Philly on Friday. Anthony had 20 points and Robin Lopez perhaps his game of the season with 24 points and 15 rebounds. The Knicks again played without star rookie Kristaps Porzingis and point guard Jose Calderon. Doubtful either plays here. The Knicks are 43-37 ATS on NBA picks this season and 34-35-1 O/U.

 

Season Series
The Raptors lead 2-1. On Nov. 10 in Toronto, the Raptors were -7.5 at sportsbooks and lost 111-109. Anthony had 25 points. DeRozan had 29 to lead the Raptors, who didn't have Carroll. On Jan. 28 also in Toronto, the Raptors were -12 and won 103-93. DeRozan and Lowry each had 26 points and Jonas Valanciunas added 11 points and 18 rebounds. New York was without Anthony, Porzingis and Calderon. And on Feb. 22 in New York, the Raptors  were -3 and won 122-95. Lowry had 22 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists for his first triple-double of the season. Anthony had 23 points and 11 rebounds. That was the lone game Rambis has coached against Toronto since replacing Derek Fisher.

New York obviously isn't close to as good of a team, but I like the Knicks here. It's the home finale so that matters, and the Raptors  have no reason to care and could rest guys again. The Raptors are 1-5 ATS in their past six after a win. The Knicks are 4-1 ATS in their past five games. The 'under' is 14-3 in New York's past 17 at home. 

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NBA Pick:  Knicks +3.5.
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

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