NBA Picks: New York Knicks vs. Atlanta Hawks

Jason Lake

Wednesday, November 13, 2013 12:42 PM GMT

Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013 12:42 PM GMT

The underdogs have been crushing the NBA betting lines after two weeks of regular-season play. The Atlanta Hawks, who will try to kick the New York Knicks while they’re down Wednesday night.

Jason’s record on his final NFL picks for 2013, up to November 12 inclusive: 3-5 ATS

What the deuce is going on in the NBA? Teams that were supposed to suck are not sucking. Teams that were supposed to sail into the playoffs are not sailing. That’s especially true in the Eastern Conference, where every team except for the Indiana Pacers is hovering around .500 at best. Underdogs are making a meal of the NBA lines at 55-48-3 (53.4 percent) as we go to press.

Where do the Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks fall on this curve? As far as Wednesday night’s matchup (8:00 p.m. ET, MSG) is concerned, the Knicks will be playing the underdog role, getting 3.5 points on the NBA odds boards at Philips Arena. But in the public eye, it’s the Hawks who are surprising everyone with their level of play, while the Knicks are failing to keep up the pace after winning 54 games last year.

Put a Lid on It

Things are already going spectacularly wrong for the Knicks (2-4 SU and ATS). They’ve fallen to No. 25 on the offensive efficiency charts at 97.9 points per 100 possessions, down from third overall and 108.6 points last year. Part of that can be blamed on the early absence of SG J.R. Smith (19.4 points per 36 minutes in 2012-13), the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, who missed the first five games to a suspension and is still not fully healthy after offseason knee surgery. But New York’s problems go deeper than that.

The biggest problem might be PF Amar’e Stoudemire. He was somewhat unfairly maligned last year because of his albatross contract and his gimpy knees, but Stoudemire still managed to post a 22.1 PER in his 29 games of action. That production has completely disappeared this year; Stoudemire has managed just 44 minutes in four games with a 1.2 PER. With PF Kenyon Martin (53 minutes in five games) also limited, that leaves Andrea Bargnani to soak up as many minutes as possible at the 4-spot. Uh-oh.

Tyson

Bargnani’s pros and cons have been dissected more thoroughly than your typical frog in your typical high-school biology class, so I won’t bother repeating them here. But the Knicks are no longer in a position to lean on Bargs (19.0 points per 36 minutes) as a complementary scorer. He’s in the starting lineup now, and he’s the last healthy big on the roster after center Tyson Chandler was lost for the next 4-6 weeks with a knee injury.

This is awful news for Knicks fans. Without a strong defensive presence in the paint, New York took one on the chin this past Sunday, losing 120-89 to the San Antonio Spurs as a 3-point home dog. The Spurs racked up 51 rebounds to 33 for the Knicks; PF Tim Duncan grabbed 10 of those boards in just 24 minutes. Bargs? One rebound in 26 minutes. Game, set, match.

We know have a Daily NBA Odds Report~

You Can Call Me All-Star

It probably feels pretty good to be Al Horford on any day of the week. On Wednesday, the two-time All-Star center gets to pad his stats against this depleted Knicks frontcourt. And Horford is already putting up the best stats of his seven-year career: 20.5 points and 10.6 rebounds per 36 minutes and a 23.4 PER. Part of that bump can be attributed to the arrival of PF Paul Millsap, who’s absolutely on fire this year (25.3 PER) after signing on the cheap as a free agent. New York has no obvious answer on paper for this dynamic duo.

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Atlanta’s a small market when it comes to the NBA, and the Hawks (4-3 SU, 5-2 ATS) lost some sizzle when Josh Smith signed with the Detroit Pistons, but that just enhances Atlanta’s basketball betting value. I’ll buy that for a dollar.

NBA Pick: Take the Hawks –3.5 (–106) 

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