The Knicks go on the road to Houston where they come in as 14 point underdogs
The Knickerbockers will be facing one of their toughest tests of the season as they go on the road to face off against the Houston Rockets, who are playing excellent basketball right now. The Rockets are currently the fourth seed in the Western Conference with a 36-20 record. On top of that, the Rockets are riding a three-game win streak. On the other end, the Knicks are in the midst of a three-game losing streak and are hoping to turn things around. However, I don’t think tonight will be the night that the Knicks right the ship and get things back on track.
New York has been dreadful this season. They have improved since last year, but that is not saying much when you realize that they were the worst team in the NBA in 2018-2019 and only finished the season with 17 wins. This will be New York’s first game against the Rockets this year, but the Knickerbockers have not faired well against the NBA’s elite. The Knicks are 1-14 against the current top four teams in the Eastern and Western Conferences. Their lone win was a 124-121 victory over the Miami Heat that came back on January 12th. In the losses they have suffered against these teams, the winning squad has managed to beat the Knicks by 18.4 points per game on average. With a 14 point spread tonight, it is possible the Knicks may once again be the victim of a vicious blowout.
The Rockets have been utilizing small ball this season, and that has been a recipe that seems to be working for them. James Harden is the NBA’s top scorer, averaging 35.2 points per game. Furthermore, Houston is the second best scoring team in the league behind only the Milwaukee Bucks as they average 118.5 points per game. As for the Knicks, their offensive output leaves something to be desired. New York is 28th in the NBA in points per game. While their defense is decent (19th – 111.6 PPG), I fear that it will not be good enough to keep up with one of the NBA’s best offensive teams.
For the Knicks to have any hope, they will need their big men to step up in a huge way. Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson will have to have career games if New York wants to keep this thing close. Randle has been consistently good for the Knickerbockers this season. While he is averaging 20 points in his last ten games, I believe he will have to go for at least 35 points tonight if New York wants to pull-off the upset victory. Furthermore, Mitchell Robinson will have to have a big game as well. He will need to score at least 25 points tonight, but I don’t see that happening since the second-year big man is only averaging 9.2 points per game this season.
If this game were in New York, then I would have no problem picking the Knicks to cover the 14 points spread. The Knickerbockers have managed to play visiting teams close most of the season. However, the Knicks have lost road games against the top four teams from both conferences by an average margin of 19.25 points per game. I expect that trend to carry over tonight as the Rockets manage to cover the 14 point spread.