INDIANA PACERS (27-38)
at NEW YORK KNICKS (34-30)
Tip-off: Sunday, 6:00 p.m. EDT
Line: New York -8, Total: 218
The Knicks and Pacers kick off a home-and-home at Madison Square Garden Sunday evening.
The Pacers are in a strange spot. They’re clearly a rebuilding team trying to break in their young players, but despite being 11 games below .500 they’re still tied for the final playoff spot in the East (with Charlotte, another team that’s similarly rebuilding). Indiana has dropped six in a row SU (1-5 ATS) and hasn’t been particularly competitive. Five of those six games were on the road, and the Pacers came within 10 points only once (an eight-point loss in Dallas). Vegas odds.
Their last two top draft picks have been moved into the starting lineup. Starting the past two games, Tyler Hansbrough has delivered two 20-point performances (21 in Minnesota, 20 in Toronto) while Paul George has struggled a bit, scoring a total of 18 points while shooting 6-for-18 from the field. Star player Danny Granger has seemed disinterested during this recent losing streak, shooting 30.2% from the field while scoring 15.5 PPG, five below his season average. That included an ugly 2-for-19 night in Minnesota on Wednesday. Center Roy Hibbert was held scoreless in that Minnesota loss and followed it up with just four points in Toronto.
The Knicks haven’t been markedly improved since acquiring Carmelo Anthony. They’re 6-4 SU and ATS with Anthony and, predictably, have taken a step back defensively. Even with one of those 10 games being a 92-79 win in Atlanta when the Hawks didn’t show up, the Knicks are allowing 108.8 PPG (106.2 pre-Anthony) and 47.4% FG (46.0% pre-Anthony). They were not competitive in a 127-109 loss in Dallas Thursday night. Betting lines.
However, New York is expected to get Chauncey Billups back in the lineup, and it certainly has the firepower to blow out a Pacers team that’s 13-18-2 ATS on the road this season and has been outscored by an average of 17.0 PPG in the past five road games. The Knicks are averaging 116.8 PPG in their four home games since adding Anthony, including a 131-point outburst against Utah Monday night. With that kind of offensive weaponry against a team that seems genuinely disinterested in the playoffs, I’m picking New York. The FoxSheets have a few trends that play in the Knicks’ favor, including:
Play On – Any team (NEW YORK) – explosive offensive team – scoring 103+ points/game on the season, after trailing in their previous game by 15 or more points at the half. (113-58 since 1996, 66.1%, +49.2 units. Rating = 3*). Sports scores.