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Denver Nuggets @ New York Knicks
Denver Nuggets: 105.0 Points, -360 ML, New York Knicks: 97.0 Points, +285 ML
The principal residences of the Mecca of the basketball world have fallen on hard times. In 11 home games this season, the New York Knicks are 3-8 with an averaging scoring margin of -5.6. Remarkably these results actually mark a significant improvement over a season ago (9-32 (22%, average scoring margin -7.8). Since the beginning of last year, if all you did was blindly bet against the Knicks home games, you would be hitting a remarkable 63% against the spread. Stretch it back one more year – since the beginning of 2017, beginning the post-Carmelo Anthony era – and we are still looking at a 57% ATS hit rate simply fading James Dolan’s squad in MSG.
So what is it? A simple lack of excitement in the building? An unfathomably bad roster? Coaching issues? The Charles Oakley Chokehold Curse?
Where to Now?
Perhaps a cocktail of the all above. What stands out more than anything amid the rubble is the utter lack of direction implicit in the organization. What is even their next move? As Jason Concecepcion of the Ringer points out, the New York Knicks are simply not an attractive place for marquee free agents any more – if they ever were. So having a bunch of expiring contracts doesn’t really help that much.
Unfortunately, their draft capital negatively correlates to the rise of Luka Doncic and the Mavericks, as the Knicks traded Kristas Porzingis in part for Dallas’s 2021 1st round draft pick.
If the Knicks do have a silver lining, it’s probably not Julius Randle – a midtier free agent that can be the best player on a bad team but probably would be a 6th man on the Clippers or the Lakers. Their best hope probably stems from one, RJ Barrett. The early returns have been mixed at best. Barrett is shooting under 40% from the field, after a miserable 0-9 performance this week against the Bucks.
Nuggets Rolls into Town
The real silver lining for basketball fans in New York is probably that other teams visit the garden from time to time. Tonight we see the Denver Nuggets, reeling from a home pounding at the hand of the Lakers, looking to get well against the Knicks. The Nuggets once synonymous with fast-paced, high octane basketball, and have grounded to a halt as of late. Denver is a shocking 23rd in points per game this year in the NBA, while the Knicks are dead last. This confluence helps explain why we see a 2010-Esq Total in this game of only 202.
A large part of the Nugget’s lack of offensive firepower this season has been the regression of their best player: Center, Nikola Jokic. Jokic has seen his scoring per game drop by 5 points per game from last year, and 10 points off his scoring average from last year’s impressive Nuggets playoff run. Jokic is shooting below 50% for the first time in his career.
The good news for Nuggets fans is that their big man has been upfront with his slide. “Right now, I’m struggling,” Jokic told the Denver Post. “The coach is a smart guy. He’s not gonna give the guy the ball who’s not making the shot.”
Angle: When there is nothing else to believe, believe in hope. The Knicks floundering – and RJ Barrett bricking – feels a lot more permanent than Jokic and the Nuggets continuing such an anemic offensive pace. This game feels like a get right situation for the visiting squad. Hop on FanDuel and take the Nuggets -8 and while you’re at it send your thoughts & prayers out to fans of the Blue & Orange everywhere.