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Hornets vs. Knicks Odds, Preview, Prediction: Back New York to Cover at MSG (Monday, Jan. 17)

Hornets vs. Knicks Odds, Preview, Prediction: Back New York to Cover at MSG (Monday, Jan. 17) article feature image
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Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: An overhead view of RJ Barrett #9 of the New York Knicks standing at center court.

  • The New York Knicks host the Charlotte Hornets in Monday afternoon NBA action on Monday, Jan. 17 at 1 p.m. ET.
  • The hometown Knicks opened as 1.5-point favorites, and the point spread has remained around -1.5 or -1 at most sportsbooks across the betting market.
  • New York has covered as the favorite in four of its last five home games, but should you expect that trend to continue today?

Hornets vs. Knicks Odds

Hornets Odds +1.5 (-115)
Knicks Odds -1.5 (-105)
Over/Under 217.5 (-110o / -110u)
Time 1 p.m. ET
TV NBA TV
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

Among the 12 games scheduled for Monday’s slate of NBA games is a matinee matchup at Madison Square Garden between the Charlotte Hornets and New York Knicks. Both teams enter this game having won seven of their past 10 games and both fall squarely into the play-in range at the halfway mark with a game separating them in the standings.

The Knicks are riding a five-game win streak at MSG entering Monday’s game, but have struggled against teams above .500 at home this season (3-7 overall). Will the Knicks keep their streak rolling or do the uptempo Hornets have an edge?

Let’s break down the recent play on both sides of this game.

Have the Hornets Figured Out Their Defense?

The Hornets have been rather enigmatic in 2022. They began the year with a 34-point blowout loss to the Phoenix Suns, followed by a three-point loss to the Washington Wizards. Five days later they knocked off the Milwaukee Bucks (twice) and the Philadelphia 76ers (on the road) in a four-day span before losing to the Orlando Magic as double-digit favorites at home.

For much of the season, the Hornets have been a team flies up the court and plays little defense. Through their first 39 games, they ranked second in Pace (101.08), second in Offensive Rating (112.8) and 28th in Defensive Rating (113.4) per NBA Advanced Stats. In the seven games they’ve played in the new year, the defense has been … average, which is an upgrade. The Hornets are allowing 109.8 points per 100 possessions (16th) despite playing at slightly faster Pace (102.79) over that span.

Two wins over a good team on January don’t make the Hornets the 2004 Detroit Pistons on defense, but it’s notable that they were essentially able to limit a Bucks team that steamrolled the Brooklyn Nets and Golden State Warriors within the same time frame.

Their quick pace could be an advantage for them in this game. The Hornets lead the NBA with 21.8 possession per game in transition and 24.3 points on those plays. The Knicks have the seventh-lowest frequency of plays in transition on defense, but have the fourth-highest scoring frequency in the league. This is an area the Hornets could easily exploit if the Knicks don’t get back on defense.

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Knicks Finding Rhythm on Both Ends

The Knicks have been equally difficult to nail down in the new year. Their up-and-down No. 3 pick, RJ Barrett has been way up over his past six games and it has fueled the Knicks to get back above .500 for the first time since Nov. 30.  Barrett has been relentless driving to the basket over this stretch, averaging 10.0 field goal attempts on his drives and 13.2 points on those plays, sixth-most in the NBA over that short stretch.

What ailed the Knicks for much of the season was spotty defense, but that has turned a corner as well. Over their past 10 games, the Knicks rank third in defense allowing 105.1 points per 100 and playing at the slowest Pace in the league (92.9).

The offense is still a work in progress, but the recent signs of life combined with a favorable matchup could be key in this game. According to Cleaning The Glass, the Hornets rank 28th in the NBA in frequency of opponent 3-point attempts allowed and 21st in shots allowed at the rim. They rank 23rd in opponent 3-point accuracy and 15th in opponent percentage at the rim.

The Knicks have been one of the better 3-point shooting teams over the course of the season — 36.7%, seventh in the NBA — with a few players like Barrett, Evan Fournier and Immanuel Quickley who can get hot from deep.

Hornets-Knicks Pick

Both the Hornets and Knicks have had recent moments where they looked spectacular and moments where they looked like, at best, play-in hopefuls. This game hinges on which version of these two teams shows up at the Garden on Monday.

In terms of style, these two are polar opposites: The Knicks like their games slow and gritty, while the Hornets play fast and flashy. The total in this game opened around 217 and while that feel high for Knicks games that tend to go under — 25-15 to the under this season per Bet Labs — I’ll likely wait on playing the over/under.

The Knicks have been frustratingly hot and cold all season, but they have hit a groove at home. They’ve covered four of their past five games at home as favorites and I think they have the slight edge here against the Hornets up to -2.5.

Pick: Knicks -1.5

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