NBA Odds, Picks, Predictions: Wizards vs. Knicks a Battle of Contrasting Styles (March 25)
Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images. Pictured: Alec Burks and Julius Randles of the Knicks.
- The Knicks have greatly exceeded expectations this year, sitting in prime playoff position.
- Washington, meanwhile, has struggled all season despite the acquisition of Russell Westbrook and lost to New York on Tuesday.
- Nicholas Alfano explains why he's taking the under despite the teams combining for 244 points on Tuesday.
Wizards vs. Knicks Odds
|Moneyline||+120 / -143|
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
|Odds as of Wednesday night and via DraftKings.|
The New York Knicks host the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden on Thursday, the second leg of a doubleheader between the two teams.
Tuesday’s matchup was never close. Heading into the 4th quarter, the Knicks were up by 28 and eventually won 131-113. It was a thorough beatdown. featuring strong showings by Julius Randle and RJ Barrett and abysmal performances from Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook.
I’m a Celtics fan, and even I am enjoying the Knicks’ success this season. They’re a strong .500 club, are 13-8 at home and sit in sixth in the crowded second tier of the Eastern Conference.
The Wizards are an alarming juxtaposition to the surging Knickerbockers. Washington has only won two games in the month of March and have disappointed for the entirety of the season.
They still have reason to compete, however, as they are only four games back of the East’s 10th seed and a right to the play-in tournament.
Wizards Not the Offensive Force That Basic Stats Show
Washington is not the offensive juggernaut their box scores would have you believe.
The Wizards actually rank 21st in Offensive Rating (109.5) and 21st in Effective Field Goal Percentage (52.6% NBA Advanced Stats).
One of their starkest offensive deficiencies is 3-point shooting. Washington shoots 34.5% from beyond the arc, 27th in the league. Additionally, 3-pointers account for just 35.3% of their total field goals attempted, the sevent- lowest rate in the NBA (NBA Advanced Stats).
Few 3-pointers made on a small number of shots taken from deep, on top of facing a stellar defense, makes quick runs hard to come by.
Though this team plays with pace, you wouldn’t know it by breaking down their fast-break stats. Washington only averages 10.6 fast-break points per game, good for 25th in the league. On the other end, they allow 11.2 fast break points per game, seventh best (NBA Advanced Stats).
We all know how bad this defense can be on any given night. Yet, Washington’s most common lineup of Westbrook, Beal, Garrison Mathews, Rui Hachimura and Mo Wagner allows 110.5 points per 100 possessions, two points better than the league average (Cleaning the Glass).
If they’re able to produce even the mildest effort on that end of the floor, combine that with the Knicks’ elite defense, and I see less points being scored than a typical Wizards game.
Knicks Know Who They Are
I desperately wish MSG could be packed this season so thousands of Knicks fans can root on this hard-working team that has clearly taken on the personality of their head coach.
To no surprise, this team’s calling card is defense. New York’s Defensive Rating is 108.4, fourth best in the NBA. They also lead the league in points allowed per game, giving up 105 per contest (NBA Advanced Stats).
The Knicks are second in the NBA with an Opponent Effective Field Goal Percentage of 51.4%. This squad gives up 10 fast break points and 11.5 second chance points per game, good for third and fourth in the NBA, respectively (NBA Advanced Stats).
Beware of the Knicks’ most common lineup when trying to score. Barrett, Randle, Elfrid Payton, Reggie Bullock and Mitchell Robinson have been on the floor together for 783 possessions, sixth most of any lineup combination in the league per Cleaning the Glass.
This lineup allows 104.1 points per 100 possessions and has an Opponent Effective Field Goal Percentage of 49.4%. For context, only this group of five and the Utah Jazz starting lineup have played more than 400 possessions together this season and have an Opponent Effective Field Goal Percentage lower than 50% (Cleaning the Glass).
Of course, when judging a total, there are offensive factors to weigh. This same defensive-minded New York lineup only scores 105.4 points per 100 possessions, almost identical to the whole team’s average point total per game of 105.3 (NBA Advanced Stats).
The Knicks are 26th in True Shooting Percentage at 55.2%, and 46.3% of their made field goals are unassisted, second highest in the NBA (NBA Advanced Stats). Their tendency to shoot unassisted field goals speaks to New York’s lack of ball movement and inability to create in its half-court offense.
Yes, the last meeting between these Eastern Conference foes resulted in 244 combined points despite most books closing the total at 220.5 or 221. However, I don’t believe Tuesday’s game provided enough evidence for books to jack their posted totals to 226.5 or 227.
The Knicks play with the slowest pace in the league (96.54), and in contrast to Tuesday, I believe New York will command the tempo. Also, Washington shot 48.1% from the field and 39.1% from deep, and I expect the Knicks to put on the clamps in this one.
Grab under 227 while you can. It’s an overreaction and great number.
Pick: Under 227, down to 225.5