Low Expectations in the NBA Tonight
Only two NBA offerings Thursday and don't expect a ton of fireworks in the early-bird of the TNT doubleheader.
The red hot New York Knicks travel to the windy city to take on the reeling Chicago Bulls. The Knicks are riding high on a 13-game winning streak entering play on Thursday and are led by the just as red-hot Carmelo Anthony. Anthony is averaging an outrageous 40.6 points per game since we turned the caledar over to the April page ten days ago. He also is the first Knick since Bernard King to score at least 35 in 5 straight games. King's string took place in 1985 when he won the NBA scoring title, a feat Anthony is now trying to accomplish as well.
The Knicks most recent success was a 21-point win against Washington Tuesday night, and the 120-99 victory guarantees New York thier first division title in 19 years.
It's much a different story for their counterparts in Chicago. The Bulls are moving toward the regular season's home stretch, limping both literally and figuratively. Chicago (42-35) has dropped their last two to non-playoff contenders Detroit and Toronto, and since the beginning of February, they are four games below .500. It doesn't help that the team is dealing with injuries to star guard Derek Rose, along with Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, and Taj Gibson. It's unknown if any will be available to play in Thursday's contest.
Chicago is the league's lowest scoring team at 92.8 points per game but also third best in the league in points allowed at 92.5. And while the Knicks do register right at the century mark in points per game (100.0 on the dot), they don't do a bad job defensively, allowing 95.6 a game.
Those numbers alone, factored with the Bulls recent lackluster play, lead me to see this game going under the total of 194 Bovada has tabbed. It can be a scary play, looking at the recent series history of these two.
If you examine the Bovada data tool on our Home page, you will find that the two teams have combined for 209 and 216 points in thier last two match-ups. It seems that's what many in Vegas are seeing because the number was about three points lower at many books, including Bovada, as late as Thursday morning. However, the most recent Bulls/Knicks contest was three months ago, well before the Bulls started their two month freefall.
Also, I wonder about the mindset of the Knicks, having accomplished their goal of clinching the Atlantic Division. Could they be primed for a let-down? And at what point do they start to rest Anthony and get him fresh for the playoffs? Whether or not tonight is the night, I don't know.
But I definitely don't trust the Bulls to light up the scoreboard, and their time-consuming offensive style will decrease the Knicks' possessions, as well. I see this game staying in the 90's for each team, at best.
My pick: New York v Chicago goes UNDER 194
Result ... Chicago 118 New York 111 OT Total points = 229 OVER covers