NBA Picks: Take the Over for Knicks vs. Pistons

Jason Lake

Monday, March 3, 2014 12:27 PM GMT

What do you get when you take the New York Knicks and Detroit Pistons and put them on the same basketball court? A fantastic opportunity to pound the OVER on the NBA betting lines.

Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to March 1 inclusive:

72-56-1 ATS

20-16 Totals

At what point did the New York Knicks give up on the 2013-14 NBA season? There’s no answer to that question, of course. A team is a collection of players with different agendas, and unless they all decide to down tools and go on strike, you can’t really say that the Knicks have quit. But they are 2-12 SU and 4-10 ATS since the beginning of February. And there’s not much in the way of inspirational words coming out of New York’s dressing room.

Speaking of dysfunction, the Detroit Pistons. They’ve lost seven of their last eight games at 3-5 ATS, although they did manage to cover their last two games as 10.5-point road dogs, versus the San Antonio Spurs and the Houston Rockets. How will the Pistons respond on Monday (7:30 p.m. ET, MSG) when they host the Knicks as 4-point favorites on the NBA lines?

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Buckets Galore

I suppose somebody has to win this game. But as you’ve probably already figured out, I’m recommending the OVER instead on the total of 207.5 points. The Knicks have the OVER at 5-1 in their last six games and 17-6 since Jan. 14. The Pistons have the OVER at 6-1 in their last seven and 17-7 since Jan. 8. These are two very similar Eastern Conference teams in terms of roster construction, with too much emphasis on offensive starpower and not enough chemistry on defense.

Let’s start with those dreadful Knicks (21-39 SU, 24-36 ATS, OVER 34-26). They have one of the very best scorers in the league in Carmelo Anthony (25.1 PER), but they don’t have much in the way of defense aside from Tyson Chandler (17.4 PER), and he’s slipping in that department at age 31. New York is No. 26 in the NBA in defensive efficiency (106.8 points allowed per 100 possessions) as we go to press, compared to No. 15 on offense (103.6 points/100).

As for the Pistons (23-36 SU, 26-32-1 ATS, OVER 42-17), they decided to shoehorn Josh Smith (15.0 PER) at small forward into a frontcourt that already has Andre Drummond (22.4 PER) and Greg Monroe (17.6 PER), and it hasn’t worked out very well. Detroit is No. 23 on the defensive charts at 105.9 points allowed per 100 possessions. On offense, the Pistons are marginally better at No. 18 (102.6 points/100).

Playoffs?!

In theory, the Pistons will be putting their shoulder into Monday’s game. They’re still within shouting distance of the Eastern playoffs, sitting four games behind the No. 8 Atlanta Hawks as we go to press. But the Knicks are another 2.5 games behind the Pistons, and they don’t seem terribly hopeful about their situation. “We’re not playing like a team that’s trying to make the playoffs,” J.R. Smith told reporters earlier this week.

It shows in the way the Knicks aren’t playing defense. On Sunday, they fell 109-90 to the Chicago Bulls (–6.5 at home), clearing the total of 186 points on the NBA odds board by a healthy margin. Anthony got his 21 points, but seven different Bulls were allowed to score in double digits, including D.J. Augustin, who racked up 21 of his 23 points in the final frame. This is a Bulls team that ranks No. 28 in offensive efficiency (98.4/100), by the way.

It’s possible that Monday’s game will turn into an ugly brickfest instead of a high-scoring affair – each of the past five meetings between these two teams has gone UNDER the NBA totals. But the way they’re both playing right now, I’ll take my chances.

NBA Pick: Take OVER 207.5 at ABC Islands