The New York Knicks have backslid pretty hard lately and after getting blasted by the Pacers on Wednesday, they try to bounce back on Friday on the road in Canada. What are the NBA odds for this matchup telling us? Let’s take a look!
New York Knicks vs. Toronto Raptors
Friday, December 10, 2021 – 07:30 PM EST at Scotiabank Arena
Knicks’ Defense Fallen Off a Cliff
The Knicks have been far from the team they were last season because of their defense. It’s not just regressed from last year, it’s fallen off a steep cliff and there is very little evidence that they are alive enough to recover from their dreadful start. Some of their issues are their new personnel, but you get the feeling watching them that it’s a scheme issue as well.
The roster they have is ill-prepared to play defense under Tom Thibodeau’s system, or there seems to be some lack of buy-in by the team in that regard as well. Regardless, some changes need to be made if the Knicks’ defense is truly back. I still think they can turn things around because they are too deep and talented not to, but one has to wonder with 30 percent of the season gone whether they can recover in time to make a meaningful push up the East standings.
The Raptors have regressed some since their hot start too, but their problems usually revolve around the opposite side of the court as the Knicks. Toronto’s defense can play well at times and even without OG Anunoby, they play hard and rebound the ball, two of the biggest factors a team can control on defense.
That being said, neither of these teams have been playing great defense lately and I think we may see some glimpses of that tonight, especially in the first half.
The Sharp Prediction
I see this total flying downward this morning and I can’t seem to come up with a reason why. Neither team has many notable names on the injury report except for the Raps and Anunoby, but OG has been out for several games now.
There are also the first half metrics to consider here. While these teams are two of the slowest paced teams in the entire league, they speed things up some in the first half and with the way their defenses have been playing lately, that could mean a higher scoring first half despite the slower pace.
New York is allowing 131.8 points per 100 possessions over their last five first halves and they are scoring 115.7 points per 100 possessions over that same stretch. That ranks them dead last defensively and top 10 offensively in first halves over a five-game stretch. Not to mention that the Knicks also rank second in first-half offense on the road this season.
The Sharp Pick
Assuming we don’t see some huge turnaround for the Knicks’ defense tonight, I think the first half over is the play for our NBA pick tonight. All we’ll need is for the defenses to play as they have been and the pace to stay above 96-97 possessions per 48 minutes in the first 24 minutes, and I think we get the win here.
It won’t take much for one of these teams to drop 30 or more points in the first or second quarter to cash this over if their defenses aren’t engaged fully.
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