Kings vs Knicks – NBA Pick for November 11th
After seemingly an entire week with super small slates, Saturday fills things up with a jam-packed 11-game NBA slate. This is a truly star-studded list of games to kick off the weekend, as James Harden, John Wall, Blake Griffin, LeBron James, Stephen Curry and so many more will be in action.
With so many stars hitting the court, there is bound to be some games you’ll want to avoid. While that will surely be the case, there are going to be plenty worth targeting as some of these team take their games down to the wire.
A few games stand out in terms of value or upside, but the game I have my eye on above all others is a clash between the Sacramento Kings and New York Knicks.
Vegas is actually calling this one fairly close, as the Kings come in as mild +5 underdogs at BetOnline as they head into Madison Square Garden. The big reason for optimism for the visiting Kings is the pending status of New York superstar, Kristaps Porzingis.
The man known as Zinger sat out New York’s last game (a loss) with elbow and ankle issues, but practiced in full on Friday:
Porzingis went through a full practice today.
— Steve Popper (@StevePopper) November 10, 2017
By all accounts, Porzingis should be ready to rock at home in a plus matchup against the Kings. If that’s the case, NBA bettors could be getting a bit of a discount by rolling with New York in this one.
On paper, the Knicks are the easy call going into Saturday’s tilt. The Kings are just 3-8 on the year and don’t defend well, while the Knicks tend to play their best ball at home.
Still, Vegas isn’t favoring the Knicks by a mile, so it would be wise to approach this game in an unbiased manner:
Zinger has been ablaze to start the season. He’s had just two games where he didn’t top 30 points and his blow-up season has carried the Knicks to a solid 6-5 start. Considering where they were a year ago and that they started this season in an 0-3 hole, that’s saying something.
It hasn’t been all Porzingis, either. Tim Hardaway Jr. has blossomed as a secondary scoring threat, the team has gotten solid run out of rookie point guard Frank Ntikilina and big man Enes Kanter has handed the team some solid minutes.
When that group is playing well together, the Knicks have proven that they can run Jeff Hornecek’s offense and be a tough out. Offensively, New York is trending in the right direction. They’re putting up over 105 points per game and enter the weekend ranked 12th in offensive efficiency.
That’s all rather impressive, especially since this is a young team that shed an elite scorer in Carmelo Anthony this summer.
The problem is on the defensive end. Zinger can help deter opponents with his length and shot-blocking ability, but no matter who is inside at the center spot, the Knicks are left with a revolving door. Enes Kanter gets the bulk of the blame, but that’s a collective issue the Knicks have failed to figure out.
Overall, New York simply hasn’t been good enough on that end of the court. They’re not “Cleveland Cavaliers-bad”, but they’re still giving up over 106 points per game and ranking 25th in defensive efficiency.
The Knicks have a few capable defenders and thanks to Zinger, actually do a solid job in overall shooting percentage allowed (10th), but their inability to stop teams on the outside (23rd) continues to hold them back.
Fortunately for the Knicks, they’ll be taking on a Sacramento team that struggles on the road (1-5) and is just a middle of the pack unit (15th in the NBA) at hitting the three ball.
That doesn’t mean the Kings can’t come into the Madison Square Garden and get hot. I just don’t deem it overly likely.
The major problem with these Kings is continuity. They have a nice blend of veterans and young talent, but it actually hasn’t meshed well to this point. The Kings aren’t the fast-paced burners of old, either. David Joerger has this team moving slower than they probably should and they check in with the league’s 28th quickest pace.
Considering home teams tend to control the tempo of games, Sacramento may find themselves playing faster than they want to. Realistically, they don’t have the personnel yet to get away with that – especially on the road.
To make matters worse, the Kings aren’t defending very well. This team ranks just 21st in defensive efficiency and the results only get worse on the road. Sacramento doesn’t have the size or defensive ability to stifle Porzingis, while they really don’t have a stopper to shut down THJ on the outside, either.
Ultimately, the Knicks could have their way in this one. The Kings are competitive and could keep it close, but I’d rather side with the Knicks at MSG.