Swinging Johnson - NBA Record (7-8, -7.1 units)
*Games assigned 1 to 5 units.
I overrated the Pacers in their game against the Bulls on Sunday night. The Bulls played tough and I should have looked at that 7 point spread and double clutched before I decided upon a big 4 unit play. The Pacers won the game 97-92 but it was not enough to get us the cover.
New York Knicks (36-21 SU, 28-28-1 ATS)
The Knicks have owned the Pistons in recent memory, winning 11 of their last 12 meetings (including all three games this season) but they may have to try to sweep the season series without the services of the second leading scorer in the NBA Carmelo Anthony.
Anthony exited Monday night’s game against the Cavaliers with an injured right knee and one which has plagued him for several weeks. It wouldn’t appear to make much sense for the Knicks to hurry him back to the court against a team they have effortlessly defeated by an average score of over 16 points per game this season.
But if the Knicks have one thing to hang their hat on this season it is the stellar play of their bench. They snatched victory from the jaws of defeat on Monday after Melo went to the trainer’s table and the bench outscored the starters 70-32 which culminated in a 102-97 straight up win and ATS cover. The Knicks currently rank 10th in scoring (100.1 PPG) and 11th on defense (96.4 PPG allowed).
Detroit Pistons (23-39 SU, 28-34 ATS)
It’s hard to think of a more colorless team than the Detroit Pistons particularly when you contrast the last several years of futility with the glory days of the 1980’s and an unexpected championship season in 2003-2004. Well here they are again, closer to the bottom of the Eastern Conference than the top and losing 5 of their last 6 games (and failing to cover in those losses in your NBA betting odds) in the process.
The Piston’s defense has suffered since the absence of rookie big man Andre Drummond, who has been sidelined with a fractured tailbone for the past 12 games. Without the services of the talented seven-footer, Detroit is allowing almost six points per game more than they were prior to his injury. However, if you’re a glass half-full kind of guy then you can take heart that Marcus Camby has returned to the fold on Monday night after being out since January 10th.
Let’s face it, the only thing this Piston’s team does relatively well is rebound the ball. They are 8th in the league in that category but no doubt the absence of Drummond will cause that number to fall. But Greg Monroe has been the bright spot in this lineup this season, leading the team in points, rebounds and even steals. The second-year center out of Georgetown had 10 double-doubles in 15 games last month and has been the lynchpin for Detroit.
I’m not sure there are enough points to sway me from adding the Knicks to my NBA picks in this spot. All they do is win and cover the number when they play Detroit, whether the venue is Madison Square Garden or The Palace of Auburn Hills. Sure, you can conjecture that without Melo, the Knicks are 3-4 and may be ripe for the pickin’ but I would suggest to you that New York’s bench led by Amare Stoudemire can compensate quite nicely in his absence.
*As of this writing there is no line due to Anthony’s questionable status but an NBA odds site is posting the Knicks -4 so we will go with that and limit our play to 1 unit due to the uncertainty of what the actual line will be or if it will even be on the board.
Free NBA Picks: Play the Knicks -4 for 1 unit