I think too much can be made of game 1 in this series. I’ve heard plenty of people say, “Chauncey Billups and Carmelo Anthony went 8 for 29 from the field and the Knicks still only lost by 2. That may be true, but a poor Knicks defensive unit held Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Glen Davis and Rajon Rondo to 17-52 shooting and 10 turnovers between the four of them, and the Celtics still won. Now there’s a statistic.
Also, Amar’e Stoudemire was unstoppable for big chunks of the game, shooting 12 of 18 from the floor and scoring 28 points. Ronny Turiaf shot 4-5 and had 9 points with 4 blocks, and I doubt either of those numbers are matched the rest of this series. Chauncey Billups is not playing in this game, and while Toney Douglas certainly has the ability to put points up on the board, a Knicks team without Mr. Big Shot just isn’t nearly as scary.
The Celtics defense did a solid job in Game 1, and while I don’t expect much better in Game 2, I do expect much of the same. The Knicks aren’t a good half court offense, and the Celtics do a good job of forcing their opponents to be efficient in the half court setting by getting back well defensively, stopping the fast break.
I don’t think -7 is a great number for Boston, but if I’m picking a side, it’s the better team playing at home in good health against a bad defensive team playing without their point guard.
New York Knicks @ Boston Celtics (-7)
Want to see how I predicted Round 1 before the games started? Click HERE!
Chicago Bulls (-3400) VS. Indiana Pacers (+2200)
Starts Saturday, 1pm ET, ESPN
Those hoping for an upset, the chance is pretty fat. Danny Granger could always go wild for a game and sneak the Pacers out a win, and it’s not like this Indiana team doesn’t have some talent – but they truly are the biggest long shot underdog of the NBA Playoffs (maybe equal to New Orleans). If there’s a gimmie out there, the Bulls to win is it.
Miami Heat (-1800) VS. Philadelphia 76ers (+1000)
Starts Saturday, 3:30pm ET, abc
Those looking to cash in on the Heat will probably win their bet, but this isn’t nearly the gimmie it would seem. Sure, Philadelphia has lost all three times against the Heat so far this season, each by 9 points or more, but strung together a lot of wins over the latter half of the season, and looked good doing it. Philly lost it there toward the end, dropping 5 of their final 6, and they finished the season 6-13 ATS, but this is a deep team with a lot of options. Miami is the type of team that could drop a game and get real nervous. I think the Miami gamblers are pretty safe with their big minus bet, but a gimmie, not like LA and Chicago.
Boston Celtics (-360) VS. New York Knicks (+300)
Starts Sunday, 7pm ET, TNT
They made this one close, and I’m guessing the Knickerbockers get a lot of series bets taking them to pull the upset – but I don’t buy it. Sure, the Celtics have been playing some poor basketball down the stretch, and this team has obviously been hurting without a big man to be a defensive centerpiece, but it’s really hard for me to see the wing-it Knicks taking out the seasoned Celtics. If anything, I know Boston has more fight in them. Defensively, they play like a team, and while New York has shown the ability to beat good teams, I don’t think they can do it consistently. Winning 4 of 7, I just don’t believe.
San Antonio Spurs (-500) VS. Memphis Grizzlies (+350)
Starts Sunday, 1pm ET, TNT
Why isn’t it tougher to buy the Grizzlies pulling this upset when they don’t even have their highest paid player (Rudy Gay) in the line-up? You’d think that the NBA’s best record out West would hold a little more weight in this match-up, but the Grizzlies have become a scary team for an aging Spurs squad. This series was tied, 2-2, this season – but the Spurs were winning early, when they were beating everybody and the Grizzlies were underachieving. The Grizzlies were winning late when they started to figure it out, and the Spurs slipped a little. Certainly the Spurs get the benefit of the doubt here, but if you’re looking for an upset, you could certainly do worse than taking the Grizzlies. Zach Randolph has double-doubled the Spurs a couple times in a row, and Tony Allen has given them fits each of the last two games. If Mike Conley can hit shots, and if Marc Gasol can cause some problems with his size, looking for a 8-seed beating a 1-seed!
Orlando Magic (-550) VS. Atlanta Hawks (+425)
Starts Saturday, 7pm ET, ESPN
Now here’s one that could certainly happen, probably the best payout for an actual chance to win that you’ll get with an underdog. I know the regular season means little, but the Hawks beat the Magic in each of the last 3 games these two teams played – Al Horford and Josh Smith have done a good job of keeping up with Dwight Howard in the post, sometimes even outperforming the big man. The only time Orland beat Atlanta this season was back before the trades that revamped Orlando’s roster – since then it’s been all Hawks. Again, Orland will probably play a little different in the playoffs – and my guess is that they win in 6 – however, if I was here to gamble, the Hawks to win at +475 would be one of my wagers.
Los Angeles Lakers (-2000) VS. New Orleans Hornets (+1400)
Starts Sunday, 3:30pm ET, ESPN
Fat chance? No chance. Chris Paul is good, but he’s had better seasons, and I don’t think he’s at the top of his game. Outside of him, the Lakers are better at every single position, and it’s not close very often. If the Lakers don’t sweep this one, I will be stunned.
Dallas Mavericks (-205) VS. Portland Trailblazers (+175)
Starts Saturday, 9:30pm ET, ESPN
I think this one is a toss up, and, in fact, I like the Blazers to win this series in 6 or 7 games. I think they have the guys to match up with the Mavericks, and quite honestly, they are playing better basketball right now. Portland’s won the last two meetings, and as I said earlier, the teams over .500 that Dallas has beaten over the last quarter of the season are very few. The playoff teams they’ve beaten over the last 21 games? New Orleans. Once. The final game of the season. The New York Knicks. Once. That’s it. I like Portland, so I’m taking the +175 and loving it.
Oklahoma City Thunder (-215) VS. Denver Nuggets (+180)
Starts Sunday, 9:30pm ET, TNT
I think this one is very, very close. I love the Nuggets since the trade – what a fun team to watch, they play a lot closer to the college style, which is by far the elite style of basketball. This team shares the rock and they run, the only problem is, I think Oklahoma City can run with them. This is probably the worst match-up in the playoffs for Denver, a team that has two players greater than anybody on your team, and can match you athletically. I like the Thunder, but I’m not sure how many. Denver’s going to fight, but it could be 5 very close games or 7. I’d stay away from betting this one.
Orlando Magic @ New York Knicks NBA Free Pick & Preview: The Knicks have been throwing out some sweet excuses lately, talking dirty about how “it’ll take time” and how “this is new for them” – please. This is basketball, and Mike D’Antoni had some things to do with Melo and Billups playing ball for USA the last time they won gold in the Olympics. These guys know what they’re doing, they’re just not quite good enough at the things they are supposed to be doing.
Mike D’Antoni runs a pick and roll system where his players move and make kick out threes. The new guy the Knicks got to run their offense through is Carmelo Anthony, and he doesn’t do that. He gets a pass from his teammate, then holds the ball for a while, then makes a 1 on 1 move and usually he scores the basketball. He’s great at that. But he’s not a ball movement guy, and the Knicks have looked mighty stagnant at times. Will that ever change with Melo? Maybe. Soon? Probably not.
How are the Knicks going to stop Dwight Howard down low? They’re not. I’m guessing 30+ points and 15 rebounds for the new Superman. And he should be the difference in this game. I know the Knicks have played well against some good teams, even the first 3 quarters against the Celtics in their most recent loss, but the Magic are a different beast. They have the youth to run with the Knicks and the half court ability to score at ease.
Orlando Magic (-1.5) @ New York Knicks (ESPN) (3/23)
New Orleans Hornets @ New York Knicks NBA Point Spread Pick: New York is going to be up and down as they figure each other out, but losing Chauncey Billups to an injury (unsure of the severity, but it’s worth checking into) will hurt their chances of beating anybody – even a New Orleans Hornets team that has lost 8 of their last 11, including a 96-90 loss at Toronto last night. Everybody is going to get up to play the Knicks for a few reasons – they just got Carmelo in the biggest trade of the season, and New York doesn’t play defense so everybody coming in is trying to score a 120 points on one of the worst defenses in the league.
This game will be interesting for a couple reasons, though – one is both these teams are looking for playoff bids in their respective conferences, and another is because Chris Paul is the third piece of the threesome that “wanted to go play together in New York to form their own Big 3” – I’m sure many remember the talk about Chris Paul’s speech at Anthony’s wedding this summer, and so far two parts of that speech have come true. Could a 3rd happen?
I like the road team in this one. The Knicks lost a tough battle with Orlando last night, and while their loss wasn’t nearly as bad as the Hornets loss to Toronto, the loss of Chauncey is a huge one. I expect David West to score a lot of points from the high and low post, Chris Paul to run around and distribute freely, and Trevor Ariza to do as good a job as anybody can do on Carmelo Anthony.
Chauncey’s loss is the biggest reason, but I expect the Hornets to turn it around in their marquee match-up with the new Knicks.
New Orleans Hornets (+3.5) @ New York Knicks (3/2)
New York Knicks @ Miami Heat NBA Sunday Basketball Pick: If the Knicks and Heat didn’t do it for you pre-trading deadline, it certainly has a great ring to it now that Carmelo is suiting up for his home team. We’ll see how well that trade can work out almost immediately, and that’s a good thing. The Heat will certainly take advantage of the Knicks inability to play any sort of defense whatsoever, but I don’t know if the Heat will have an answer for Amare in the post. LeBron has guarded ‘Melo well at times in the past, but could a new uniform change a battle that has been dominated by LBJ? Stay tuned.
The Knicks played decent in their first game with Anthony and Billups, a win against Milwaukee, but a tough loss to lowly Cleveland brought some of the doubters back, and for good reason – when you lose to Cleveland, there are some glaring problems. But remember, it’s an 82 game season, and the Lakers also lost to Cleveland a while back, and “new players in new places” wasn’t an excuse for that reigning NBA Champ.
Miami won the first two meetings between these Eastern conference foes, dominating game 1 in a 22-point piecing, winning by 8 in game 2. But Game 3 saw New York play a tougher brand of basketball, limit the Heat’s fast break points, and win by 5 in Miami. In that win, Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler and Gallinari (the guys Melo was traded for) shot just 9 of 35 from the floor – something I’m sure Chauncey and Carmelo can improve upon. LeBron had a tough night from the floor, shooting just 7 for 24 from the field. But these Knicks are a different team, maybe better, maybe not – but they are different.
When the Heat score 100 points or more, they almost always win – and I’d be stunned if the Knicks porous defense holds the Heat under 100 again. Still, the Heat rarely blow teams out, and a big lead never seems quite safe enough. With a couple chuckers playing for New York, I see the Knicks keeping this one fairly close – and with the spread all the way up to 9, I’ll take the Knicks to cover.
New York Knicks (+9) @ Miami Heat (ESPN) (2/27)
Miami Heat @ New York Knicks NBA Free Pick & Preview: The Knicks’ most recent return to being a player in the East has taken a turn for the worse, and they’ve struggled. But it’s nothing that a big win against the Big 3 of Miami couldn’t cure. The Knicks, unlike some other contenders, really get up for games of this magnitude, and it will be interesting to see if they can pull off a win against the D. Wade and the Lebron’s. Let’s be honest, this is more of a Big 2 with Bosh playing the role of Horace Grant. Either way, the bigs inside for Miami should have trouble with Amare, and this one might be a fight.
Neither team has been great of late: the Heat have struggled without all three pieces of their summer in tact, losing 4 of their last 5 and playing 3 overtime games in their last 7 contests. The Knicks, as I mentioned above, have really fallen off after their run of success earlier this season. They’ve lost 6 of their last 7, and health isn’t an issue for them. They’ve had tough opponents, sure, but losses to Phoenix, Sacramento, and Houston won’t get anybody feeling sorry for them. The losses to Sac-Town and the Suns were both at home, too, making matters worse.
But Miami is favored by 3.5 points at New York, and while the Knicks haven’t beaten the Heat yet this season, this looks like their best opportunity to do so. This game is in New York, the Heat are missing their only offensive post presence (Chris Bosh would probably eat up the Knicks on the block), and the Knicks finally won a game last time out (even though it was against the Wizards).
Can Wade and LeBron beat the Knicks without their 3rd wheel? I’m saying no, not this time around. I’ll take the home team dog.
You can read some more on this game over at Just Bet
Miami Heat @ New York Knicks (+3.5) (TNT) (1/27)
New York Knicks VS San Antonio Spurs: Free NBA Pick: After going crazy for a while there, the Knicks have lost 6 of their last 10 games, including a current 3-game losing streak. It makes since that things are averaging out with their average points for being less than a point more than their average points against. But they have big-time firepower. And Staudemire always beats up on Tim Duncan. The Spurs have surprised a lot of people this season, as they currently hold the best record in the business at 35-6. Only the Celtics are close to that mark, with their own 31-9 record. Manu Ginobli has moved to the starting line-up and he’s playing lights out this season. Tony Parker has also been impressive, but the Spurs continue to get big help off the bench, and they hold the best +/- in the NBA at +8 per game.
New York lost again on Wednesday, this time in a mildly embarrassing fashion to the under .500 Houston Rockets. It was in Houston, a tough place for NY to travel, but they ended up on the wrong end of a 15-point game as the Rockets slightly out-rebounded, out-shot, and turned the ball over less than the Knicks.
San Antonio won again on Wednesday, beating the Raptors by 9. That victory was their 7th in a row, and they don’t show any signs of slowing down. Against a team lacking front court beef, like Toronto (and like the Knicks I guess), Dejuan Blair had his best game of the season, grabbing 15 rebounds and scoring 22 points. The Spurs has 7 guys with 8 points or more, 5 of those guys in double figures. They continue to find success from many different players.
The Knicks won this match-up earlier in the season, and Amare’ Staudemire has always been a tough match-up for Tim Duncan and the Spurs, mostly from Amare’s days with the Suns. I think Amare and the Knicks will do what they usually do and step up to play the elite-level Spurs. 9 points is a lot in many ways – so I’ll take the underdogs in this one.
New York Knicks (+9) @ San Antonio Spurs (ESPN) (1/21)
Denver Nuggets (-6) @ New York Knicks: You have to love the Nuggets in this game. Look at them, they’ve lost 2 of their last 4, sure, but they were rocking a big winning streak before that and have taken 8 of their last 10 without much trouble. They’ve lost 4 straight against the spread, sure, but they’ve had ridiculous spreads lately, and their last 3 ATS losses were double digit spreads.
The Knicks are playing pretty good ball, for them, as they’ve only lost 6 of their last 10… Right, like I said, for them. They do have Tracy McGrady playing good minutes off and on, and David Lee has been solid all season – but this team just can’t stop opponents. And the Nuggets are as efficient offensively as any team in the league.
The biggest key to the Nuggets getting this win with ease is the fact that this game is the first of a back to back for Denver. And they play a Celtics team that has been playing well on Wednesday, so unless they want to chance dropping 3 in a row, they’re going to have to slap around the Knicks on Tuesday night. Also, if they can figure out New York early, they can rest their big guns and get them ready for Wednesday Night in Boston.
While this game is often closer than it should be, the Knicks have still been ousted by at least 7 points in 3 of their last 4 meetings with the Nuggets. I like Denver to win by
Cleveland Cavaliers @ New York Knicks (+8.5) NBA Picks: The Knicks have had a history of playing good teams tough, especially in the National spotlight – I think that continues here. Basketball is weird and a close game can easily become a 10 point contest, but with Cleveland going down to the wire in a physical game with the Bulls last night, and their bench being relatively ineffective to start the season, I think they’ll have a hard time coming out and dominating the Knicks. New York definitely has that “me against the world” attitude, and with the cameras on, and ESPN at the Garden, I like New York’s chances.
Neither of these teams have been good against the spread this year, but New York hasn’t been a big underdog once this season. The Cavs have been big favorites often. I think the Knicks can keep it close with the long ball and the fast break. I don’t know if New York could stop Shaquille O’Neal and Ilgauskus, but the Cavs aren’t committed to the post game. That helps New York. LeBron James also got beat up a little last night, falling hard into the stands and rolling his ankle while going out of bounds. He’ll play, he’ll be good, but that and a back to back could take it’s toll.
San Antonio Spurs @ Portland Trail Blazers (-3): After getting beat up for most of the night against the Jazz on TNT Thursday Night, the Spurs get to travel up to Portland to play a late game against a pretty physically athletic Trail Blazers unit. Tim Duncan has looked old so far this season, but he’s still very good. San Antonio just doesn’t seem to have that swagger that they’ve had in the past, and I know Portland will come out ready to play against one of the NBA’s premier teams.
With the second game of a back to back, the Spurs definitely don’t have an advantage in that aspect of the game. The Blazers are playing at home, they have size and as much depth as any team in the league. I see that being a problem for San Antonio, I like the Blazers to cover the small spread to get back to .500 on the season. They’ve played better than their record insists, and that’s going to even out sooner or later, I’m guessing sooner.