Free NBA Picks: Knicks at Pacers Odds
by Alan Matthews - 1/15/2014
Was the New York Knicks' five-game winning streak fool's gold or was Tuesday's loss at struggling Charlotte just one of those trap games? I lean the latter, slightly.
I would argue only two of the Knicks' wins in that five-game run (4-1 ATS) were quality: at Dallas on Jan. 5 and at home against Miami last Thursday on TNT -- a game in which I recommended taking New York and the points. The other three weren't anything exciting: home vs. Detroit, at Philadelphia and home against Phoenix in overtime on Monday (the one non-cover), with the Suns not having star guard Eric Bledsoe. Playing in the second of a back-to-back on Tuesday in Charlotte ahead of this week's big TNT game at Indiana, it's not hugely surprising that New York laid an egg.
The Pacers, meanwhile, have laid an egg just once at home all season. Their only loss there was Dec. 16 against Detroit, which preceded a showdown in Miami two nights later. All the Pacers have to do to match the 1985-86 Boston Celtics for the best home record in NBA history (40-1) is not lose at Bankers Life Fieldhouse the rest of the way.
Thursday's game is the second of three regular-season meetings and New York's only visit to Indianapolis.
Knicks at Pacers Betting Story Lines
Oddly, the Knicks' winning streak came to an end against the Bobcats when their second-best player, center Tyson Chandler, returned to the lineup. He had missed the previous four with an upper respiratory infection, and Chandler pretty clearly wasn't 100 percent as he lasted only 16 minutes against Charlotte and finished with five points, four rebounds, two turnovers and two fouls in the 108-98 defeat. Al Jefferson ate Chandler's lunch and any other guy the Knicks put on the Bobcats center as Jefferson was 14-of-20 from the field for 35 points. The Bobcats only turned the ball over five times as well.
Carmelo Anthony led New York with 20 points but was just 9-for-22 from the field in 38 minutes, and the team was minus-20 when he was on the court. For some reason, Coach Mike Woodson benched sixth man J.R. Smith for the game. Smith was benched for last Thursday's game against Miami after his whole shoelace incident(s) that resulted in a $50,000 fine. That seemed in the past as Smith played 27 minutes Saturday against the Sixers and 25 Monday against the Suns, totaling 24 points. Something must have happened behind the scenes since then. Woodson hasn't said why he did it, and Smith said he had no clue why. Smith became eligible to be traded on Wednesday, but good luck to New York finding a taker for that cancer.
Indiana routed Sacramento, which had been playing well, 116-92 on Tuesday night. It was the first time the Kings had been held under triple-digits in their past 12 games. Paul George, who had been scuffling of late by shooting only 35 percent from the field in his past seven, led the Pacers with 31 points, 24 after halftime, as Indiana shot a season-high 54.9 percent. The victory clinched the Eastern Conference all-star coaching gig for the Pacers' Frank Vogel. Indiana has reached 30 wins quicker than any other team in franchise history.
Knicks at Pacers NBA Betting Odds and Key Trends
At BetOnline, Indiana opened as a 9.5-point favorite with a total of 184. The Knicks are 16-22 against the spread (11-8 on the road) and 18-20 "over/under" (8-11 on road). The Pacers are 25-12 ATS (14-6 at home) and 13-24 O/U (5-15 at home). New York is 6-2 ATS in its past eight after a loss. It is 4-1 ATS in its past five road games against teams with a winning record. The Pacers are 5-0 ATS in their past five at home against teams with a losing road record. Indiana is 1-5 ATS in its past six Thursday games. The under is 6-0 in the Knicks' past six playing on one day of rest. The under is 15-2 in the Pacers' past 17 on one day of rest. The favorite has covered the past six meetings.
Free NBA Picks: Knicks at Pacers Betting Predictions
Back on Nov. 20 at Madison Square Garden, the Knicks were beaten by Indiana 103-96 in overtime -- that was loss No. 4 in a season-high nine-game skid. George tied the game with three free throws with 5.2 seconds left and had nine of Indiana's 14 points in overtime. Anthony led New York with 30 points and 18 rebounds. Smith was actually relevant in that game with 21. Chandler sat out -- so did Raymond Felton and Amare Stoudemire -- but the Knicks still outrebounded Indiana and outscored the Pacers in the paint.
The Pacers have won three straight regular-season home games in this series, and I see no reason why that changes. A victory would clinch the season series for Indiana for the first time since the 2007-08 season. I'm presuming Smith returns to the lineup, although I'm not sure whether that's a positive or a negative for the Knicks. Indiana has looked totally dominant at home since that lone loss and it will continue. New York has been much better away from home as of late but will have its eyes on an eight-game homestand that begins Friday and ends the day before the Super Bowl against Miami. Take the Pacers and the under.
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