In the most anticipated matchup on Tuesday night, the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers meet at the Staples Center. It might sound weird calling the Knicks a quality team, but that’s what they are in 2021. They have work to do before the Knicks can be called elite. That said, the Knicks have looked elite at times, and are going in the right direction. There isn’t much disputing that the Knicks are on the right path.
Two years ago the Knicks finished with a record of 17-65 for dead last in the NBA. There wasn’t another team that came close to holding a candle next to the Knicks’ terribleness. None other than the Phoenix Suns, a contender in 2021, was the only other team in the league to record less than 20 points. The Knicks might be that team next season and actually threaten in the Eastern Conference just like the Suns have turned things around.
The Knicks go into the Staples Center with a record of 38-30 and fourth in the Eastern Conference. They’re nine games behind the Philadelphia Phillies, and have a half game advantage on the Atlanta hawks. The Knicks aren’t catching the top-3 teams, but have some work to do if they’re going to go to the playoffs with the fourth seed. They take on the defending champs, who finally looked like the champions on Sunday night.
The Lakers blasted the Phoenix Suns by a score of 123-110, as they looked like a complete team. In any case, it was only the second win for the Lakers in their last seven games. Lebron James is scheduled to return against the Knicks tonight. He came back for two games on May 2 and May 3, didn’t look right, and then missed the next four games to rest his ankle. It’s unlikely that Lebron will be playing at 100% for the rest of the season.
Chemistry between Lebron and the rest of the Lakers looked off in those two games, though they did respond for a 93-89 win against a good Denver team. When the defense shows up for the Lakers, they can still be a tough team to beat even without an offensive spark. For the Knicks, they are coming off an impressive 106-100 win over the Clippers to avoid a three-game losing streak. They lost 113-97 against the Nuggets, and 128-105 against the Suns before the win. This is the final game of a six-game road trip for the Knicks. Head below for our free Knicks vs. Lakers pick on May 11, 2021.
New York Knicks vs. Los Angeles Lakers NBA Betting Odds:
Knicks vs. Lakers Prediction:
As we saw last year, when the Lakers have their chemistry worked out they can be the best team in the NBA. However, with the absence of Anthony Davis and Lebron James absent for a big chunk of this year, it’s been difficult on the Lakers to put together some consistency. Having said that, the Lakers looked terrific in a 123-110 win against the Suns. Davis said enough is enough, and he went off for 42 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 assists. He faces the match up of the night against Julius Randle. The game is going to be won between AD and Randle at the Staples Center.
The Knicks have had the most aggressive defense in the NBA this season. They’ve gone from a paper-thin weakling to a defensive force. The Knicks lead the league with an average of 105 points against per game. They are also first in field goal percentage against at 44.2% and three point percentage against at 33.9%. Before we begin talking about the Knicks in the same breath as the Bucks, 76ers, and Nets in the Eastern Conference, they will have to work on improving their offense in the offseason.
They can’t keep up with that firepower. The good news is that the Knicks aren’t that far away from being a good offensive team as well. As they continue to improve, free agents are going to want to go to NYC, which is something we haven’t been able to say in a long time. A rivalry between a good Nets and Knicks team would be a big win for the NBA. The Knicks will have to contend with the second-best defense in the league tonight.
Their defense is capable of dishing it out on the defensive floor as well. The Lakers are second with an average of 106.6 points against per game. It’s the offense that has been all out of sorts for the Lakers. They’ve scored an average of 109.3 points per game, which is below expectations for a team with Lebron and AD on the court.
However, the Lakers haven’t had either on the floor at the same time much this season. I think the public backs the Knicks here, but at the end of a long and grueling road trip, expect Lebron and AD to finally come together for a dominant performance. I think we see a more determined Lebron in this one than we saw against the Kings and Raptors. This game should be close in the first half, but expect a road weary Knicks team to fade against the Lakers’ defense in the second. I like a 112-104 win for the Lakers at home in this one.