New York Knicks at Detroit Pistons (-5.5, 204 o/u)
New York Knicks (23-28, 9-16 Away) head coach Derek Fisher made waves this week by saying he wouldn’t be disappointed if his team missed the playoffs. Fisher is more worried about the “process” with his squad, trying to build success that can be sustained long-term. But it’s hard to be encouraged by the team’s development now that it’s lost six of the last seven. The Knicks will try to right the ship when they visit the Detroit Pistons (26-24, 15-8 Home) at The Palace of Auburn Hills tonight (7:00 PM Eastern).
After beating Utah on Jan. 20, the Knicks were a .500 team in the thick of the East playoff race. Since then, a run of tough opponents and an injury to starting point guard Jose Calderon has left the team in a rut. Calderon is expected to return to the lineup tonight; if so, he’ll be able to help a New York team that shot just 39-percent over the last three games.
Detroit should be firmly entrenched in the East postseason conversation as long as the human double-double, Andre Drummond, stays healthy. Despite being one of the worst shooting teams in the NBA, the Pistons have a top-12 offense thanks to all the second and third-chance buckets Drummond provides. Detroit averages 13.7 offensive rebounds a game.
However, in the first game between these teams on Dec. 29, the Knicks found a way to limit Drummond’s impact in a 108-96 win at MSG. The entire New York frontcourt of Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis, and Robin Lopez chipped in to get a body on Drummond, limiting him to just nine rebounds. Of course, New York also shot 50-percent from three-point range in that game, something they haven’t been able to recreate recently. The Knicks have only broken the 40-percent barrier once in the last seven games.
Another angle that doesn’t bode well for Fisher’s squad is how the Knicks play when an opponent returns for seconds. This season, New York is just 1-6 against teams they beat the first time around. Throw in Detroit’s stellar 11-4 record against the spread as a home favorite, and I like Stan Van Gundy’s squad to make the necessary adjustments to pull this one out.
Pick: Pistons (-5.5).
(Photo credit: Keith Allison (Flickr: Carmelo Anthony) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)