76ers vs. Knicks Odds, Expert Pick & Prediction: Best Bets for NBA Christmas (December 25)
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: James Harden and Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers
- The NBA on Christmas begins with the Philadelphia 76ers facing the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
- The Knicks are short home underdogs, but Chris Baker is betting this matchup on the total.
- Check out his picks and analysis below.
76ers vs. Knicks Odds
|Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
The 76ers are traveling to New York on Christmas as winners of seven straight games. The Knicks, meanwhile, had their own eight-game winning streak prior to recent losses to the Raptors and Bulls.
Can the Knicks get back on track in front of a home Garden crowd? Or will the 76ers keep their winning streak alive?
Let’s break down how these teams match up.
Key Footnotes to Philadelphia 76ers’ Current Streak
The 76ers have climbed to fifth in point differential in the NBA during this winning streak. They’ve been carried by their elite defense, which ranks third in halfcourt points per 100 possessions and fourth in adjusted defensive rating.
Despite their great-raw numbers, there is certainly reason for pessimism since the 76ers have played the second-easiest schedule in the NBA this year.
During this winning streak, they have played four teams that rank in the bottom seven of adjusted net rating, and they have played all seven of their games at home. One of their other three games was against a Warriors team missing Steph Curry and Andrew Wiggins. They also haven’t played a single top-10 team in adjusted net rating during the streak.
This isn’t to say that this recent success doesn’t have any merit because it obviously does. I mention all this just to establish the fact that it is highly likely that this team is slightly overrated in the eyes of the public. Despite their weak schedule, there are reasons to be optimistic about their offense in this matchup.
The 76ers have upped their 3-point rate with James Harden back in the lineup, and they now rank 11th in the NBA in attempt rate. The Knicks struggle to defend the 3-point line, ranking 25th in 3-point rate allowed. When these two teams matched up back in November the 76ers launched 45% of their shots from deep for a total of 47 attempts. Keep in mind that the 76ers played that game without their two primary playmakers: James Harden and Joel Embiid.
They lost that game because they shot only 27% on those 3s, but the Knicks still needed a massive fourth-quarter comeback just to win the game by two. The 76ers will be without Tyrese Maxey in this one, but Harden and Embiid are both back, so we should see the 76ers improve their offense efficiency this time around.
I expect Harden to have tons of success playmaking for his teammates in this one. The 76ers offense is also heavily predicated on getting to the free throw line, and they should have no issue getting there against a Knicks defense that ranks 15th in FT rate allowed.
Expect the 76ers offense to put up a large number at the Garden.
New York Knicks Poised to Break Out
The Knicks had been rolling prior to their two most recent losses. They’ve climbed to eighth in adjusted net rating and sit comfortably at sixth in the Eastern Conference. They should be able to have some success against a Philly defense that struggles to finish possessions.
The 76ers rank 28th in defensive rebound rate on the season. That is a recipe for a disaster when going up against a Knicks offense that ranks third best in offensive rebound rate.
Prior to their seven-game winning streak, the 76ers played the first- and second-best offensive rebounding teams in the NBA: the Rockets and the Grizzlies. They lost both of those games and allowed a ridiculous 37.5% offensive rebound rate to the Grizz, as well as an insane 45.5% offensive rebound rate to the Rockets.
Those marks rank in the 94th and 99th percentile of offensive rebounding respectively. I expect Mitchell Robinson and this Knicks front court to exert pressure on the 76ers on the glass. The Knicks should also expect their offensive efficiency to increase just by virtue of simple regression.
In the first game, they shot just 27% from beyond the arc. With the way Julius Randle, RJ Barrett and Quentin Grimes have been shooting lately, you would have to expect that number to positively regress toward their average.
Another area in which the Knicks’ offense should regress is their turnover rate. The Knicks turned over the ball on a ridiculous 21.6% (third percentile) of their possessions. On the season they rank top 10 in turnover rate with a 14.1% turnover rate, according to Cleaning the Glass.
The Knicks struggled with the ball pressure of De’Anthony Melton and Matisse Thybulle in the first game, but with Harden back, we should see much fewer wasted possessions from the Knicks. Expect the Knicks offense to roll against this 76ers defense in this spot.
I think the over holds value here as these defenses do not match up well.
Outside of Melton, the 76ers are completely lacking guard defenders to contain Jalen Brunson’s dribble penetration. The Knicks don’t have the bigs to consistently contain Embiid down low. This 76ers defense is being massively overrated after playing the league’s single easiest schedule of opposing offenses thus far.
This first game finished at 210 despite woeful offensive performances from each team. Combine the expected positive 3-point regression with the return of Embiid and Harden, and I think this number is too low at 217.5.
I expect to see a Christmas Day offensive explosion, so take the over and play it up to 219.
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