London is calling for the NBA tonight and it’s the New York Knicks who are counting on making their trans-Atlantic trip pay off when they take on the Detroit Pistons at The 02 Arena.
The Knicks will get a lift when defensive specialist Iman Shumpert makes his return after seven months out with an ACL injury and although the second-year pro will only play limited minutes in his comeback game, it’s a welcome boost for a team which has given up 100 points seven times in their last 14 games.
Tyson Chandler has also recovered from a virus and will start, a big help against a Detroit team which has won seven of their last ten games, with Andre Drummond giving the Pistons a versatile big off the bench behind Greg Monroe.
There have been a lot of off-court activities since both sides arrived in the UK but both coaches have been quick to focus minds back on the true purpose of the trip. "That's part of the maturity of being a professional," said Pistons coach Lawrence Frank. "When you step off this hardwood, enjoy yourselves. But when you step back on, you got to be locked in.”
Despite New York’s wobbles of late, they’re an experienced side who might be ready to make another surge with Shumpert ready to contribute straight away. So take them on the handicap to sweep past the Pistons.
Pau Gasol is expected back for the Los Angeles Lakers when they host Miami but his team still need all the help they can get. They’ve picked up back-to-back wins over Milwaukee and Cleveland but before that, they’d won only one of their previous eight games.
Miami, however, have been in a slump by their standards, losing three of their last five. On the plus side, even though they played last night, their Big Three sat out the fourth quarter in their blowout of Golden State. But we await with interest whether we’ll see the best or worst of Miami in Los Angeles. The Heat are a tempting 2.10 to take the victory with the Lakers at -2.5 on the handicap.
The Milwaukee Bucks haven’t won in Phoenix in 26 years – an extraordinary run – but interim coach Jim Boylan will hope history can be made tonight. The Bucks won 108-99 against the Suns at home last week and their hosts have lost three out of four since. I like the Bucks at 1.96 to break their jinx.
Bet of the Day: Take Miami to beat the Lakers at 2.10.