Two NBA Picks Worth Grabbing In Raptors-Knicks Despite Injuries

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, January 28, 2016 2:41 PM UTC

Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016 2:41 PM UTC

May want to wait until close to tipoff to bet on Thursday night's New York at Toronto NBA action, as an All-Star on each side might sit out. The Raptors are -9.5 on NBA odds with a total of 201.

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NBA Picks: Raptors -9 & Under 201
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle


Knicks Look To End Skid
New York (22-25) has fallen out of the top eight teams in the Eastern Conference thanks to a three-game losing streak. The first two, home to the Clippers and at Charlotte, weren't close. But New York gave an excellent Oklahoma City team all it could handle on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, with the Thunder escaping in a 128-122 overtime victory. The Knicks led by 11 in the fourth quarter but couldn't stop Kevin Durant, as he had 44 points. Durant had the tying field goal with 16.2 seconds left and then seven of OKC's 15 overtime points. Langston Galloway led the Knicks with 21 points off the bench. Rookie Kristaps Porzingis had 15 points and five rebounds but was a team-worst minus-16.

There were two big storylines from that game. The first was New York was without Carmelo Anthony, while No. 2 was the hope of New Yorkers everywhere that the next time Durant played in the Big Apple it would be as a member of the Knicks next season. Of course Durant is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer and the Knicks, like about every team in the NBA, will have max money to offer Durant. Many Knicks fans got giddy when on Monday Durant called the ultra-promising Porzingis an NBA "unicorn" because of his combination of size and skill. So of course Knicks fans and beat writers ran with that story in presuming Durant would like to play with Porzingis. Only in New York!

As for Anthony, he sat out with a sore left knee but did travel with the team to Toronto. It's the same knee that caused Anthony to miss 40 games last season and have offseason surgery. Coach Derek Fisher didn't think was anything serious but Melo is questionable. Anthony is averaging 21.0 points and 7.5 rebounds this season. Lance Thomas started for Anthony vs. the Thunder and had 16 points. Derrick Williams also saw more minutes off the bench and had 19 points.

The Knicks are 27-20 against the spread on NBA odds and 25-21-1 'over/under.'


Raptors Poised To Set Record
Golden State is clearly the NBA's best team, but the hottest in the league right now is Toronto (30-15), which has won a franchise-record-tying nine in a row to climb to No. 2 in the Eastern Conference and right on the heels of No. 1 Cleveland.

It should be noted that the Raptors really haven't played many good teams during the run. The best was a 112-94 win over the Clippers on Sunday with L.A. again missing Blake Griffin (who broke his hand during a fight with a team assistant equipment manager outside a Toronto restaurant the night before). On Tuesday, the Raptors blew out the visiting Wizards 106-89. All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry had 29 points but left with a wrist injury with about four minutes left. X-rays were negative and Lowry said he was fine after, but the Raptors may be overly cautious and he's questionable. Toronto was 5-7 last season when Lowry was out last season. Lowry, voted to start next month's All-Star game in Toronto, is averaging 20.9 points, 6.4 assist and 5.0 rebounds per game.

The Raptors have won their past nine games by an average of 12.7 points. Toronto is one of four current franchises to never have a 10-game winning streak. It is 27-18 ATS on NBA picks this season and 22-23 O/U.


Season Series
Toronto is 7-1 against fellow Atlantic Division foes this season and winning those by more than 13 points per game. But that one loss was on Nov. 10 at home, 111-109 to these Knicks. The refs admitted afterward they missed a late call on Anthony stepping out of bounds. Instead, Lowry was called for a foul on Thomas after he got a pass from Anthony. Thomas hit two free throws with 17.2 seconds left for the clinching points. Anthony had 25 points for the Knicks and Lowry 23 points and nine assists for the Raptors. That has been the only meeting between New York and Toronto this season.


Final Analysis
No way Raptors are swept at home by the Knicks, Melo/Lowry or not. Go Toronto -- unless Anthony plays and Lowry doesn't, then take the points -- and 'under' as both teams could struggle to score if those two stars sit. The Knicks are 2-5 ATS in their past seven games. The Raptors have covered five straight at home and five in a row vs. teams with a losing record. 

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