NBA Picks: Pacers vs. Knicks

Jason Lake

Wednesday, November 20, 2013 2:33 PM GMT

The New York Knicks have yet to beat the NBA odds at MSG this season. Perhaps a game against their old enemies, the Indiana Pacers, will give them some motivation.

Take a look at our NBA Picks of the Day article for more free plays.

These are not very good times for the New York Knicks. They just dropped another one to the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday night, falling 92-86 as 4-point road dogs. That’s three straight losses for the Knicks (3-7 SU and ATS) as they head straight home to face the best team in the Eastern Conference, if not the entire universe, the Indiana Pacers. Wednesday’s NBA betting lines have the Pacers favored by 5.5 points, with the early consensus shading slightly toward Indiana. The Pacers (9-1 SU, 7-3 ATS) have been idle since Saturday. Hardly seems fair. 

[gameodds]5/247847/?r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]

Power Backward 

Having to play on zero days of rest is no fun. But last year’s Knicks squad managed just fine in that situation at 11-7 SU and ATS. Then again, last year’s Knicks squad played some very good basketball. Times have changed:

2012-13: No. 3 offense (108.6 points/100 possessions), No. 16 defense (103.5 points allowed/100)

2013-14: No. 18 offense (99.3), No. 24 defense (104.4) 

Those stats for 2013-14 are up until that loss against the Pistons. As you can see, most of the drop-off from last year is at the offensive end. Personnel changes (Jason Kidd, Chris Copeland, Steve Novak) have a lot to do with it. So do injuries (Tyson Chandler) and infirmity (Amar’e Stoudemire). On Tuesday, the Knicks were also without Raymond Felton (hip) and Metta World Peace (knee, personal). Both players are iffy for Wednesday as we go to press. 

No MSG 

Then there’s that nasty E-word: effort. However short-handed the Knicks may be, there’s an expectation of hustle that isn’t being met these days. “I’m not here to teach effort,” head coach Mike Woodson told reporters Monday after practice. Carmelo Anthony supported his coach. “It’s like we’re not even trying right now.” Those aren’t the kind of reports you want to hear if you’re thinking about backing the Knicks with your NBA picks.

The home fans aren’t too pleased, either. New York is 1-5 SU and 0-6 ATS at Madison Square Garden this year. It seems like a perfect storm from a basketball betting perspective: a public team coming off a strong season, losing important players, getting overbet at home. Oh, and they get to play the Indiana Pacers next.

Children of the Corn 

There might not be much left to the old Knicks-Pacers rivalry, but these two teams have traded figurative punches over the years – Indiana holds a slim 16-14 SU and ATS advantage stretching back to 2005. And hey, Spike Lee will no doubt be on hand Wednesday night (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN). He’ll see a Pacers team that ranks No. 14 in offensive efficiency (100.8 points/100) and first overall in defense (90.6). Indiana also leads the NBA in point differential at plus-9.4; New York is near the bottom at minus-5.4.

Looking at the matchup, Indiana should have every opportunity to punish the Knicks in the paint. New York closed out Tuesday’s game with Kenyon Martin and Andrea Bargnani down low; each player had 0.0 Defensive Win Shares going into that contest, as did Stoudemire. But at least Bargs is putting in 20.7 points per 36 minutes at the other end. Stoudemire is barely mobile and has a 0.7 PER, down from 22.1 last year. 

Indiana counters with giant 7-foot-2 center Roy Hibbert (20.4 PER) and tough two-way veteran David West (16.3 PER), then they hit you with Luis Scola (15.5 points, 7.2 rebounds per 36 minutes). Meanwhile, Paul George (23.7 PER) is approaching MVP levels of play, and Lance Stephenson (15.3 PER) is making large strides in his fourth year in the league. The Pacers are very, very, very good. Give them the Nobel Prize for Basketball.

NBA Pick: Take the Pacers –5.5 at The Greek