Pacers vs. Knicks NBA Odds & Picks: There’s No Reason to Bet Against New York
Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Domantas Sabonis and Julius Randle.
- Don't look now, but the New York Knicks appear to be a playoff team in the Eastern Conference.
- The Knicks host Indiana on Saturday night, with the Pacers coming off a tough loss to the Celtics on Friday.
- Matt Trebby explains why New York's stifling defense appears to be the easy pick at Madison Square Garden.
Pacers vs. Knicks Odds
|Moneyline||-110 / -110|
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
The new-look New York Knicks host the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night in a matchup that two months ago would have seen Indiana favored, without question.
But as the season has progressed, the Knicks have become a respectable betting team, with an 18-15 record against the spread, and an under bettor’s dream, having gone under the total in 22 of their 33 games.
Saturday night brings a matchup against a playoff team from last season in Indiana, but the Pacers are struggling, while the Knicks are thriving.
Let’s dig into what has made New York tick this season and why it’s good value at Madison Square Garden:
With their loss to the Celtics on Friday night, Indiana is now 4-7 in February and going nowhere fast.
Indiana entered the game ranked 20th this month with a 110.2 Offensive Rating and a respectable 110.9 Defensive Rating, which was 10th. Put those together and you have a 17th-ranked Net Rating that makes the Pacers bang average.
Offensively, Domantas Sabonis (21.5 points per game) and Malcolm Brogdon (21.7) are keeping Indiana afloat. The Pacers are still in dire need of scoring from the perimeter, which has been a problem since they sent Victor Oladipo to Houston. Of course, they assumed Caris LeVert would fill that role immediately, but health problems have kept him out since the deal.
Another big loss is that of T.J. Warren, who averaged 15.5 points and shot 52.9% form he field in his four games this season before getting hurt.
Indiana went from a starting five that featured Brogdon, Oladipo, Warren, Sabonis and Myles Turner to having just three of them, as well as losing a potentially key component of the team in LeVert to a stroke of bad luck.
New York Knicks
The Knicks’ bread and butter this season has been their defense, which is no shock since Tom Thibodeau took over as head coach during the offseason.
In February, the Knicks have a 107.9 Defensive Rating entering play on Friday, which is fourth in the NBA in that span, according to NBA Advanced Stats. New York’s 3.5 Net Rating is eighth in the NBA this month, during which the Knicks are a solid 7-5.
You name a defensive stat this season, and chances are the Knicks are among the best in the NBA in it. For example, New York entered Friday allowing the lowest field goal percentage against the NBA (43.3%), and their 32.5% against from beyond the arc is the best in the NBA by a staggering 2.1%.
The Knicks are also allowing the third-fewest points in the paint per game this season, which is a good sign entering a matchup with All-Star big man Sabonis.
Offensively, the Knicks’ leading scorer, rebounder and assister is Julius Randle, who has been the team’s most consistent player at that end of the floor this season.
New York’s second-leading scorer, RJ Barrett, is still prone to the odd dud but has improved as the season has progressed. After shooting 34.6% in five December games, Barrett is shooting 44.5% over the previous 28 games, averaging 16.2 points and 5.9 rebounds. That percentage is respectable and it better be if Barrett is going to take 14 shots per game.
I totally understand why this line is so close. The Pacers were a playoff team last season and have a couple players who possess All-Star-level ability, while Randle is the only Knicks player that stands out on paper.
But based on results this month and New York’s stellar defense, I don’t see it as a close matchup. The Knicks thrive defending in the paint, which is bad news for a Pacers team that goes through Sabonis inside the arc. It’s a bad matchup for Indiana, , which actually has played well on the back end of back-to-backs this season, with a Net Rating of 4.0.
Regardless, the Knicks are the pick here. Back them up to -1.5 to get a win at home.
Pick: Knicks +1 (up to -1.5)