With three of their supposed first choice line-up watching from the sidelines, what hope do the New York Knicks have of avoiding a new benchmark for play-off frustration on Thursday night?
Monday’s 104-94 loss to the Miami Heat condemned the Knicks to a record-equalling 12th consecutive post-season defeat. Of more immediate significant, it leaves New York in a 2-0 hole in their first round series as it shifts to Madison Square Garden for Game 3.
Tyson Chandler’s recognition as the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year failed to lift the air of despair that followed Amar’e Stoudemire’s ill-advised encounter with a fire extinguisher. Requiring surgery for the hand injury, it set off a string of jokes about who might have the better chance to stop the Heat.
The Knicks are 3.00 to win in regulation but it’s very hard to envisage that happening on the evidence of the past two games, even on the handicap of +5. With few offensive options, it’s worth a punt on going under the line of 187 total points.
Thursday’s other game sees the defending champions in the scrap of their lives as their crown threatens to slip away. The Dallas Mavericks trail the Oklahoma City Thunder 2-0 as the series shifts back to Texas and although OKC have shown frailties, they’re far from the same team that lost 4-1 to the Mavs in last year’s play-offs.
Dallas are far from done but their ageing line-up lacks the zest of 12 months ago. Even in a do-or-die game, opt for the Thunder steal victory at 2.52 or take a bet on overtime at 14.5.
Elsewhere, injuries and late season have shaken up the championship odds. Minus Derrick Rose, Chicago has plummeted to 25.00 for the title while Oklahoma City are now down to third favourites. The San Antonio Spurs are now up to second and still good value at 4.60.
Best Bet of the Day: Go under 187 points in Knicks-Heat at 1.91.