New York Knicks at Portland Trail Blazers NBA Pick for January 7th

by Taylor Smith
on January 7, 2019

The New York Knicks are not a good basketball team, but they were able to go into Los Angeles and beat the LeBron-less Lakers on Friday night. After a couple of nights off, New York will resume their west coast road swing on Monday night when they take on another playoff-caliber team in the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Blazers were beaten by the Thunder on Friday but followed that up by picking up a big win the next night over the Houston Rockets. Portland is now 23-17 on the season, which is good for the No. 7 spot in the Western Conference. The Blazers are 6-4 over their last 10 games, while the Knicks are just 2-8 over their last 10.

While the Blazers are in the midst of the playoff race, the Knicks are already out of it. New York is just 10-29 on the season with an average point differential of minus-7.9, which is one of the worst marks in the NBA.

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Betting Data Knicks Trail Blazers
2018 Straight-Up 10-29 23-17
2018 Home 4-12 15-7
2018 Away 6-17 8-10
2018 ATS 17-20-2 20-20-0
2018 ATS Home 6-9-1 13-9-0
2018 ATS Away 11-11-1 7-11-0
2018 O/U 23-16-0 17-23-0
2018 O/U Home 8-8-0 8-14-0
2018 O/U Away 15-8-0 9-9-0

Blazing a Trail

The Blazers have been known for their dynamic guards for the last handful of years. Damian Lillard has established himself as one of the game’s finest point guards, while CJ McCollum has emerged as his trusty sidekick in the backcourt.

The 2 have helped Portland to 5 consecutive playoff appearances, though a trip to the Conference Finals has continued to elude them.

This is just the second full season for big man Jusuf Nurkic in Portland. While he showed flashes during his first season-and-a-half since coming over in a trade from Denver, Nurkic always struggled to stay on the court and log consistent playing time. That hasn’t been an issue for the Bosnian Beast of late, however.

Through 40 games this season, Nurk is averaging 15.2 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. Over the last 6 games, though, he has stepped up his game considerably. Nurkic is averaging 22.2 points, 12.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game.

The Knicks have a paper-thin frontcourt, which means Nurkic should be in line for another strong showing this evening. New York ranks just 24th in defensive efficiency against opposing centers, so there is little reason to believe Nurk can’t dominate this matchup.

It could be a long night for Luke Kornet, Enes Kanter and the unfortunate Knicks that’ll be tasked with trying to slow him down.

Nurkic’s emergence as an offensive force gives Portland an element offensively that they have lacked in recent years. Whether that means they’ll be able to enjoy more success come playoff time remains to be seen, of course.

New York, New York

Shameless plug: On Friday I picked the Knicks to cover the 7 ½ point spread in Los Angeles against the Lakers, and they wound up one-upping me by winning the game outright. The Knicks have really struggled this season, and they’re just biding their time until franchise cornerstone Kristaps Porzingis returns from his torn ACL.

The team recently made the decision to promote Luke Kornet into the starting center spot ahead of Enes Kanter.

Kanter is a strong scorer and capable rebounder, but his shortcomings on the defensive end of the floor wore thin with head coach David Fizdale. Rather than watching opposing big men torment the defensively-inept Kanter night in and night out, Fizdale decided to give Kornet a shot.

Kornet doesn’t have the length to really battle offensive-minded centers, but he has given a better effort on that end than Kanter did. Kornet has also shown some usefulness on the offensive end as a floor-stretching center.

Kornet has connected on a blistering 46.4 percent of his looks from 3-point range this season, which gives the Knicks an offensive element they have been missing with Porzingis sidelined.

The team has also gotten strong play out of Noah Vonleh, who will be facing the Blazers for the first time since being traded away from Portland late last season.

The former lottery pick has looked like a potential building block for the Knicks given his ability to protect the rim and defend multiple positions. He looks like a potential long-term partner up front alongside Porzingis, which is something the Knicks have been seeking for a few years now.

The Pick

This will be the second and final meeting of the regular season between Portland and New York. The Trail Blazers went into Madison Square Garden and picked up a tight 118-114 win over the Knicks way back on November 20.

McCollum led the way with 31 for the Blazers that night, while Nurkic finished with 13 points and 11 boards in 31 minutes of action.

The Blazers haven’t been all that great against the spread this season, as evidenced by their ATS record of just 20-20-0. The Knicks are 11-11-1 as a road team against the spread, which is impressive considering they have struggled to stay competitive for most of the campaign to this point.

A 12-point spread is massive in the NBA, and it’s something we rarely see unless the Golden State Warriors are involved.

There is absolutely legitimate blowout potential in this game considering the Blazers enjoy a strong home court advantage, but 12 points just seems way too generous for a team that isn’t exactly dominating their way through the Northwest Division this season.

As was the case on Friday night, I think the Knicks can at least remain competitive throughout this one. I don’t like their chances of winning the game outright, but keeping the game within 12 points isn’t all that much to ask. They can still lose by double-digits and cover the spread.

This looks like a pretty decent opportunity, so I’m going to take a risk and back the Knicks once again here. Give me New York to cover the hefty 12-point spread in the Pacific Northwest this evening.

Pick: Knicks +12

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Taylor Smith

Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, but he’s willing to take one for the team on that front every now and then.

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