New York looks to build on winning streak despite being eight point underdogs at home
Well, I certainly didn’t see this coming. I don’t think anybody did. The Knicks have won two straight games and may have recorded their best victory of the season on Monday against the Rockets. Despite being 10.5 point underdogs at home against Houston, New York managed to beat the Rockets without trailing for a single second in the fourth quarter on their way to a 125-123 win. The Rockets’ bench was held to just 24 points in the game. Also, Knicks rookie RJ Barrett scored 27 points against Houston, which tied a career-high that he had previously set against the Atlanta Hawks back in December. On top of that, five other players scored at least ten points in the game for the Knicks. New York will be looking for a similar result tonight as they play host to the streaky Utah Jazz.
The Jazz are currently the fifth seed in the Western Conference playoff race with a 38-22 record. They hold a one and a half game lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder for the fifth spot in the West, so Utah will certainly have a lot to be playing for tonight as they look to stay ahead of OKC. Utah has been an up-and-down team for most of the season. From December 11th to January 14th, the Jazz only lost one game and managed to put together a five game win streak as well as a ten game win streak on their way to a 15-1 record over that span. The Jazz are just 10-10 over their last 20 games since then and have had two four game win streaks as well as four game losing streak and a five game losing streak. Utah has managed to beat the garbage teams recently though after securing wins over the Wizards and the Cavaliers in their last two outings. I’m sure Utah will manage to beat the lowly Knicks tonight as they have often done against the NBA’s bottom-feeders.
Tonight’s game will conclude the season series between the Knicks and the Jazz. These teams faced off earlier in January in a matchup that Utah won 128-104. Eight different players for the Jazz scored at least ten points in that contest. Emmanuel Mudiay and Bojan Bogdanovic both led all players in the game with 20 points. Mudiay was the star of the show though as the former New York Knick went 8-12 shooting while also recording 20 points, three rebounds, four assists, one block, and one steal. The big difference in that game was that the Jazz shot lights out, finishing 49-90 (54.4%) from the field. I am positive the Jazz will be able to replicate this performance considering they are one of the best shooting teams in the NBA
The major statistical categories favor Utah in almost every way headed into tonight’s showdown. The Jazz are ninth in the NBA in points per game and rank 11th in opponent’s field goal percentage. Their offense is just 16th in scoring, but they are efficient with the shots they take, making 47.5% of their field goals this season which is the fourth best mark in the league. Furthermore, the Jazz are the best three-point shooting team in the NBA! Utah has made 38.7% of their three-pointers this season, which is a half a percent more than the next closest team. Utah also does a better job of sharing the balls than the Knicks, averaging 22.2 assists per game. The numbers indicate that the Jazz will likely be able to come out on top of the Knicks, but this game will be close in the end.
Utah and New York’s numbers are on-par with what is to be expected in this game. The Jazz score 111.5 points per game while the Knicks allow 112 points per game. Furthermore, the Knicks only put up 105.4 points per game compared to the Jazz who only surrender 108.3 points on average. The Jazz will be victorious and extend their win streak to three games, but the Knicks will manage to cover the spread because they have been playing close as of late. I like the Jazz to win in a tight one.