New York Knicks @ Indiana Pacers -5.5 — TOTAL 190.5
These Knicks just can’t seem to catch a break these days. Just as soon as they finally find their point guard and the Lin-sanity that ensued, they lose the blossoming star for quite possibly the remainder of the season with a torn meniscus. The absence leaves the Knicks now missing both their point guard and their best interior player, Amar’e Stoudamire as they chase the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Knicks have won three in a row against Indiana including beating them on back-to-back nights two weeks ago; however it will be a much different lineup for the Knicks taking the floor tonight in Indianapolis. Indiana has been playing solid basketball of late as well, winning six of nine and closing to just a half-game back of Orlando for the coveted third playoff spot in the East.
The Knicks have been good of late against the spread, covering in ten of their last twelve, which is an intriguing stat, but do not forget the lull in their schedule that catered weaker opponents as their relative health as compared to now for the majority of that stretch. I am generally encouraged by a team that has covered so consistently, but am not buying into the Knicks tonight.
The Pacers are an excellent defensive team with a nice variety of people they can throw at Carmelo Anthony. Outside of Anthony, the offensive options are a little limited unless JR Smith or Iman Shumpert can unexpectedly go off. With Danny Granger and Paul George’s length and athleticism on the wing, I see Indiana handling them with relative ease.
Here’s a key stat that tips me in the Pacers favor tonight: The Pacers are 16-7 at home straight up, while the Knicks are a dismal 9-16 on the road. The Pacers have a solid +6.8 ppg point differential at home. The Knicks have a -2.4ppg average differential away from the Garden. Factor in the huge injury issues for the Knicks, and this doesn’t seem like a five point line to me – it feels more like seven or eight.
The Pacers are fresh off a thrilling overtime win at Houston two nights ago, and the Knicks haven’t played since Saturday, so both teams should be fresh. Fatigue won’t be a factor, but injuries and absences sure will be. I like Indiana at home to win and cover the five and half point line.
Free Pick: Indiana Pacers -5.5