It's the second of a back-to-back for New York and Milwaukee on Saturday night as the two teams meet for the third time this season already with just one matchup left. Check our NBA pick here.
Porzingis May Own Big Apple Soon
When the New York Knicks picked Latvian teenager Kristaps Porzingis at No. 4 overall in the June draft, the fans in New York booed big-time. Team president Phil Jackson admitted essentially that Porzingis was a project and might take years to become a quality NBA player because he had such a frail physique.
Well, the fans and the Zen Master were both wrong: “We’ve been pleasantly surprised,” Jackson said recently.
Porzingis is now the +300 third-favorite for NBA Rookie of the Year on Ladbrokes NBA odds and leads all rookies in double-doubles with 10. I'm sure the Minnesota Timberwolves are thrilled with No. 1 overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns and he remains the -110 favorite to Rookie of the Year honors. But the Los Angeles Lakers might be kicking themselves for taking Ohio State guard D'Angelo Russell at No. 2 overall. He's +2000 to win ROY. The Sixers took Duke's Jahlil Okafor at No. 3 and Okafor is averaging a very solid 17.2 points and 8.1 rebounds and is the +250 second-favorite for ROY. But he's a knucklehead off the court and was just suspended two games by the team this week for a few incidents.
Porzingis already is mobbed everywhere he goes in the city. He's was averaging 14.1 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks along with a few crowd-pleasing dunks. With Porzingis on the court, New York is outscoring opponents by 2.9 points per 100 possessions. When he’s off the court, the Knicks are being outscored by 9.4 points per 100 possessions.
The Knicks now appear to have a kick-start on their future, although it's important to remember they don't have a 2016 first-round pick due to the awful Andrea Bargnani trade a few years ago with the Toronto Raptors.
New York (10-10) beat Brooklyn 108-91 on Friday. Porzingis had 19 points and 10 rebounds. Carmelo had 28 points. The Knicks are 12-8 against the spread on NBA odds and 7-12-1 'over/under.
Bucks Trying To Find Defense
Milwaukee (7-13) is a disappointment thus far after making the playoffs as the No. 6 seed last year and pushing the Chicago Bulls nearly to the limit in the first round. The return of Jabari Parker from his knee injury and the addition of former Pistons forward Greg Monroe in free agency had many predicting the Bucks to improve upon last year's 41-41 mark. For whatever reason, it hasn't happened yet.
Parker is still being treated with kid gloves off his knee surgery and entered Friday's game in Detroit averaging 9.5 points and 3.8 rebounds in about 23 minutes a night. He didn't play in the second of back-to-backs early in the season (he didn't debut until Nov. 4) but did most recently so presumably will play here.
If you want to point to one problem with the Bucks so far it's defense. Milwaukee ranked No. 8 last year in allowing 97.4 points per game and No. 5 in field-goal percentage defense (.437). This season, the team is No. 22 (102.8 ppg allowed) and No. 23 (.454 FG pct.), respectively.
The Bucks lost 102-95 in Detroit on Friday. They are 8-12 ATS on NBA picks and 12-8 O/U.
We got an inkling that the Knicks might be improved this season and of how good Porzingis could become on opening night between these squads as the Knicks went to Milwaukee and as 5-point underdogs at sportsbooks (total was 194.5) won 122-97. Porzingis had 16 points and five rebounds in his NBA debut, while Derrick Williams led the Knicks with 24 points off the bench. Carmelo struggled in shooting just 4-for-16 for 11 points. The Knicks didn't have starting shooting guard Arron Afflalo back then due to a hamstring injury. Milwaukee was led by 22 points and 14 rebounds from Monroe in his Bucks debut. They didn't have arguably their best player in Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was serving a one-game suspension. On Nov. 6 at Madison Square Garden, the Knicks were 1.5-point favorites (total of 196.5) and lost 99-92. John Henson led the Bucks with 22 points. Antetokounmpo had 20 points and seven rebounds. Porzingis had 14 points and 13 rebounds, while Anthony struggled again with 17 points on 7-for-17 shooting. Afflalo was still out for the Knicks but is healthy now.
Before Friday's results, the Bucks were -2.5 so that line has taken quite a swing. Take the Bucks and go 'under.' Milwaukee has covered five straight in the second of a back-to-back. The 'under' is 4-1 in the Knicks' past five on the road. It has hit in 13 of the Bucks' past 16 on Saturday.
NBA Picks: Bucks +2 & Under 191.5 at Bet365