NBA Picks for Knicks vs. Magic

Jason Lake

Monday, December 23, 2013 12:21 PM GMT

Monday, Dec. 23, 2013 12:21 PM GMT

If it’s a day that ends with a Y, the New York Knicks must have some injuries to worry about. The worst basketball betting team in the East could be missing four players for Monday’s matchup with the Orlando Magic.

Jason’s record on his final NBA picks for 2013, up to December 21 inclusive:

29-28 ATS

6-5 Totals

Making fun of New York is a national pastime. Check that, an international pastime. Few people outside the Big Apple care to have teams like the Yankees, Knicks, Jets and Rangers shoved down their throats. So when those teams start to lose games, it’s a party. Even the locals can’t help it – they love to kick losers while they’re down. Maybe it’s the lack of sunlight and 32-ounce sodas.

The least loveable losers right now are the Knicks (8-18 SU, 9-17 ATS). They’re also the least profitable team in the Eastern Conference. And while things are looking up now that center Tyson Chandler (18.4 PER) has returned to the lineup, New York still has four injured players going into Monday’s game against the Orlando Magic (8-19 SU, 13-14 ATS). The early NBA betting lines have Orlando laying 1.5 points at home.

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Everybody Hates Raymond (Part II)

The most important injured player at the moment is PG Ray Felton (11.6 PER), who missed the last two weeks with a bothersome hamstring injury that has cut dramatically into his effectiveness. ESPN’s Ian Begley tweeted on Sunday that Felton is nearing a return and will “give it a go” during Monday’s shootaround to see if he can play against Orlando. If he can’t, well, that’s a problem for the Knicks. Last week, PG Pablo Prigioni (13.6 PER) suffered a hairline fracture to his right big toe, and he’s not expected back for another week or so. That leaves the defensively challenged Beno Udrih (12.0 PER) as New York’s starting point guard.

Not that Felton is going to solve all the Knicks’ problems when he does return. The former North Carolina Tar Heel has been an object of derision ever since the Charlotte Bobcats (uh-oh) picked him fifth overall in the 2005 NBA Draft, one spot after Chris Paul. Felton’s crime: Being an average point guard. He’s got some playmaking skills, but he’s not a great shooter (33.2 percent lifetime from downtown), and on any given day, Felton is one artisanal breakfast burrito away from eating himself out of the league.

Visualize World Peace

New York’s situation in the paint has improved tremendously with Chandler returning to health, but that improvement is mitigated by the latest injury to PF Kenyon Martin (13.8 PER). He strained his abdomen last week and isn’t likely to see the court again until 2014. It’s a lousy development for a team that could use a lot more attitude down low. Martin (7.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.8 steals, 1.6 blocks per 36 minutes) can’t score the way he used to, but he’s doing all the glue-guy things that every NBA team needs.

The Knicks were hoping for similar contributions when they signed SF Metta World Peace (12.7 PER) on the cheap after he was amnestied by the Los Angeles Lakers. But his performance has been limited by a sore left knee that has already been drained twice this season, and Newsday is reporting that World Peace might undergo another procedure that will force him out of Monday’s matchup (7:00 p.m. ET).

As I said in my recent rant about injuries, it’s folly these days to bet on the NBA when you don’t know who’s playing and who isn’t. The Knicks are certainly strong fade candidates in general, and I’m recommending that play in advance, but you might feel differently if Felton and World Peace are able to play against a Magic team that’s 4-9 ATS at home this year. It’s a hard way to make an easy living.

Special Update: This game has moved to a pick ‘em as we go to press.

NBA Pick: Take the Magic PK at BetOnline

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