Sunday, December 8

New York Knicks vs Indiana Pacers, 11:30 am
Knicks +6.5

The Knicks are now officially the worst team in the NBA, sporting an atrocious 4-18 record on the year. By contrast, the Pacers have been fairly competitive all along at 14-8.

Indiana find themselves as strong 6.5-point favourites here, getting a whopping 82% of the early action. Although it’s very tough to back the Knicks as currently constructed, I think this is a favourable spot for them.

First and foremost, teams typically come out with a lot more energy in the first game with a new coach. David Fizdale clearly wasn’t getting the most out of this squad and I’d expect a much better effort here.

Moreover, the Knicks enter this one after getting embarrassed by a combined 70+ points in their last two games. Especially at home on a Saturday night, all eyes will be on them to improve.

They enter this clash relatively well-rested, having played just once since Tuesday. They’re also relatively injury free, with Elfrid Payton the only rotation player expected to miss this clash.

As solid as Indiana have looked at times, they just aren’t the same team on the road. While they’re 9-2 at home, they’re a pedestrian 5-6 on the road against a relatively weak schedule. They also enter this clash relatively light on the wing, with Sumner and Sampson joining Oladipo on the injury list.

Overall, I love the contrarian and new coach angle with the Knicks as home dogs. They probably don’t get over the line, but 6.5 points is too strong to ignore here.

Utah Jazz vs Memphis Grizzlies, 2 pm
Under 218.5 Points

Neither of these sides has been particularly impressive this season. After a ton of fanfare during the off-season, Utah find themselves 6th in the West at just 12-10. Memphis continue to struggle, now 13th in the conference at 6-15.

Utah have opened as 12-point favourites in this one, but I won’t opt for a play on the spread here. Instead, I like the look of the total, which I deem a little too high at 218.5 points.

Utah remains one of the toughest places to play in the NBA, largely due to the altitude adjustment for road sides. This is particularly true for a young side like Memphis that typically looks to run wherever possible. As such, I’d expect somewhat of a slower game here, with less overall possessions and less points as a result.

Neither side is especially healthy here, with a ton of injury doubts heading into this one. On the Utah side, Mike Conley is a game-time decision and the team struggled mightily without him last time out.

Memphis are significantly more banged up, with Anderson, Brooks, and Clarke all expected to miss this clash. With both sides potentially trotting out weaker rotations, we could definitely see a less efficient game as a result.

Moreover, Utah’s strong interior defence should contain Memphis’ main strength, their frontcourt. This will force them to shoot more from outside, where they haven’t necessarily succeeded thus far.

Combine a slower paced game with a few injuries and strong defensive matchups and it’s tough to ignore the under at 218.5 here.