The New York Knicks were a pleasant surprise there for a while this NBA season, but they bring a terrible defense and five-game skid into Wednesday's home game against Milwaukee and likely will again be without All-Star big man Kristaps Porzingis.
New York reached a high-water mark of 14-10 with a 118-112 victory at the Los Angeles Lakers on Dec. 11 but has lost eight of 10 since largely because of a leaky defense. On Monday, the Knicks allowed 115 points at home in a 12-point loss to an Orlando Magic team that is one of the NBA's worst offensive clubs. Oh, and the Magic had been blown out in their two previous games. Two nights after yielding a season-worst 69 points in the first half to James Harden and Houston, the Knicks surrendered 67 to the Magic. About the only bright spot vs. Orlando was shooting guard Courtney Lee (wrist) returned from a three-game and scored 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting.
Porzingis missed his second straight game because of a sore left Achilles tendon. On Tuesday, Coach Jeff Hornacek told the media that Porzingis is doubtful for Wednesday's game vs. the Bucks. That opened as a pick'em on NBA odds.
Porzingis wasn't able to practice on Tuesday. He will test the injury Wednesday during morning shootaround before determining his official status. Porzingis is averaging 20.1 points and 7.9 rebounds and his 7-foot-3 frame obviously only helps on the defensive end. The Knicks have allowed an average of 113 points in their five-game losing streak and rank 25th overall in points allowed per 100 possessions.
Hornacek suggested after the Magic game that coaches would try to implement some gimmicks into the Knicks' defensive scheme or change lineups. But he isn't considering switching Kurt Rambis' role as defensive coordinator.
"No, not at all ... Stuff that we've done in this last month, it'll work fine. We've just got to keep going over it and continue to reiterate what we want them to do," Hornacek said Tuesday.
Wednesday will be the first meeting between the Bucks and Knicks this year. They split in 2015-16, each going 1-1 at home. The home team is 7-3 ATS in the past 10 meetings on NBA picks. Milwaukee (17-16) enters on a two-game winning streak after a 98-94 home win over the Thunder on Monday. Starting guard Matthew Dellavedova missed his third consecutive game with a strained right hamstring and he's in doubt for Wednesday.