Will the absence of Carmelo Anthony engineer the New York Knicks downfall when they visit the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night?
The 1-game suspension handed out for the NBA All Star’s stalking act on Kevin Garnett hurts their chances but the Pacers would not fear a full-strength Knicks based on their current form.
With eight wins out of their last ten, and a defence giving up just 89.5 points per night, Indiana is a tough proposition for a free-scoring squad like New York. Paul George has really stepped up, scoring 29 points in Tuesday’s 87-77 defeat of Miami and he could profit from Anthony’s benching.
The Knicks have won just three of their last five and they’re starting a spell of three games in four days. They’re 2.57 outsiders here and if the Pacers turn the screw, it’s worth a look at the hosts on the handicap of -4.5 at 1.91.
The Portland Trailblazers have won eight straight at home but that streak will get its toughest test when Miami come calling. But the Heat arrive with four losses from their last seven and with their credentials likely to get a test from a Blazers team which have won eleven out of 14 as their defence has maintained its improvement.
They’ve picked up wins over good opponents including New York, Memphis and San Antonio and they’re 12-2 when scoring over 100 points. LaMarcus Aldridge is available at 1.85 to score 20 points or more with LeBron James at 1.85 to go over 26.5 points. And while Miami are -3.5 on the handicap, Portland have been a pleasant surprise and with a good record in close games, they could grab another scalp.
The night’s other game sees Sacramento host Dallas with the Kings at -2 on the handicap. The focus will be off the court with the home side under threat of relocation to Seattle if a proposed sale goes through. But with the Mavericks in the mire, expect the Kings to keep moving on up.
Bet of the Day: Take Indiana on the handicap over New York.