Knicks vs. Nuggets NBA Picks: Jokic For the Win

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Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets. Matthew Stockman/Getty Images/AFP

The New York Knicks may be on fire, but the Denver Nuggets are the right NBA pick for Wednesday’s matchup with the Denver Nuggets. 

New York Knicks vs. Denver Nuggets

Wednesday, May 05, 2021 – 09:00 PM EDT at Ball Arena

It’s been a while since the New York Knicks looked this good. How long has it been? The 2012-13 campaign was the last time the Knicks made the playoffs; also, if you look at the Simple Rating System numbers at Basketball Reference, it’s been eight years since New York (plus-2.37) finished in the black. That was four head coaches and two interim coaches ago. Tom Thibodeau clearly has the Knicks back on track, with considerable help from team president Leon Rose – who has yet to have his toes stepped on by owner James Dolan. We’ll see how long that lasts.

In the meantime, New York (37-28 SU, 42-22-1 ATS) have opened as 3-point road dogs on the NBA odds board for Wednesday’s game versus the Denver Nuggets (43-22 SU, 31-34 ATS). As tempting as it is to keep supporting the Knicks, both teams are red-hot right now, and the Nuggets look like the better choice at this price.

Props to Jokic

At least that’s what the analytics say. FiveThirtyEight project Denver to win Wednesday’s matchup by 9.5 points, and it’s hard to argue with the computers; the Nuggets have won nine of their last 11 (albeit at 5-6 ATS), and they have the league’s best player in Nikola Jokic, the runaway favorite at 1.1 on Bodog’s MVP props market. At press time, Jokic leads the NBA in just about every advanced metric there is, including Box Plus/Minus (plus-11.6), Player Efficiency Rating (plus-31.0), Value Over Replacement Player (plus-7.8), and Win Shares Per 48 Minutes (plus-0.299).

New York’s ability to defend Jokic will be compromised by the absence of at least one of their top two centers. Mitchell Robinson (broken right foot) hasn’t played since late March and will probably miss the rest of the season; Nerlens Noel (sprained left ankle) is listed as day-to-day after missing Monday’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies. The Knicks still won that match 118-104 as 4-point road dogs, improving to 13-3 SU and 15-1 ATS since April 3, so you might want to avoid placing a large bet on Denver – but they’re still the right NBA pick in this situation.

As heartening as it is to see the Knicks climb out of basketball purgatory, they still have some issues on offense that can’t be overlooked. New York rank No. 19 out of the league’s 30 teams in scoring efficiency at 108.6 points per 100 possessions, well behind the Nuggets in fourth (114.3 points). And while Denver’s title chances took a knock when point guard Jamal Murray was lost for the season to a torn ACL, Facundo Campazzo has stepped up in his absence; the arrival of Aaron Gordon at the trade deadline has also provided Jokic ample support in the paint. That will make it even harder for the Knicks to succeed Wednesday night if Noel is forced to sit this one out.

NBA Pick: Nuggets –3 (–105) at BetOnline