Knicks vs. Hornets Odds
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
|Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
The New York Knicks and Charlotte Hornets were two of the best teams in the first five games of the season, but have both cooled off a bit lately.
Has reality set in, or can they right the ship and get back to looking like Cinderellas in the East? Plus, can anyone get a stop? No seriously.
Let’s break down both side of this matchup and find some value here.
Note: I’ll be breaking down this game live with my colleague Chris Raybon on NBA Bet Stream.
Knicks Defense Is Work in Progress
The Knicks got off to a hot start, but have now lost four of their past six.
The slide has mostly coincided with their starting lineup melting into oblivion. The Knicks’ starters have played the second-most minutes of any five-man unit in the NBA and are being outscored by 6.4 points per game and -14.4 per 100 possessions.
They’re getting absolutely crushed, to the point where Tom Thibodeau a. benched them in their last game vs. Milwaukee leading to him trying to play a bench unit for 18 straight minutes (spoiler alert: it didn’t work) and b. called them out publicly in the media. Nerlens Noel is questionable for this one as he’s day-to-day with knee soreness, so we’ll see how that impacts the bench.
The Knicks’ offense has been carrying them this season, a far cry from where they were to start last season. New York has the seventh-best halfcourt offense per Cleaning the Glass.
A worrisome sign for this game, however, is that they rank just 11th against switching defenses. Still good, but not top-level like their fifth-ranked Adjusted Offensive Rating per Dunks and Threes. The Hornets run switch the fifth-most of any team. So we should downgrade the Knicks a touch here in their strongest area, offense.
However, overall, the good news is that the Hornets defense is awful, so that’s a bonus. The Knicks are the No. 1 team in scoring at the rim on non-post-ups per Synergy Sports and the Hornets are 28th defending such plays. Expect a lot of layups in this one for the Knicks.
The Knicks’ defense is their issue.
New York had the second-highest expected eFG% based on opponent contest and shot location last season per Second Spectrum. They somehow managed to hold teams to the second-lowest actual eFG%, a mark that had analytics wonks waiting for the Knicks to fall off defensively last year which didn’t happen in the regular season.
This season, the chickens have come home to roost. They’re allowing the third-highest expected eFG% this season and the seventh-highest actual.
In a season where offenses are struggling across the board, teams are putting up 117 points per 100 possessions with Kemba Walker, Julius Randle, and Mitchell Robinson on the floor. Notably, if you take Walker out of that combo, they’re giving up just 101.7. As a big Walker fan, this is deeply depressing.
So LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier will likely feast in this matchup.
The good news is the Knicks’ bench has been lights out. They rank second in bench Net Rating and Charlotte is 27th. If the Knicks can win the first and third quarters, they’ll be in good shape on the moneyline.
Hornets Starters Carrying Heavy Load
The Hornets are, in large part, mirror images of the Knicks. Same hot start, same poor defense.
The difference comes in starters and bench. The Hornets’ starters are in the black at +2.9 per 100 possessions while their bench is the aforementioned 27th.
Rozier has crashed back to Earth after being lights out last season when he had one of the best differentials between actual and expected eFG% in the entire league — especially on pull-up jumpers where he shot 5.14% better than expected. This season, he’s shooting -8.83% worse.
Some regression is likely, but without that boost, it hurts the Hornets’ bench considerably. Plus, PJ Washington, arguably the Hornets’ best big, is still out with an elbow injury.
The good news is that Miles Bridges has made a leap, averaging 21-8-4 even though the shooting hasn’t been great. He has the best on-court Net Rating of any starter. His matchup against Randle should be fascinating.
Points, points, points.
These are the two bottom teams in uncontested catch-and-shoot opportunities allowed, and two top-10 teams in efficiency in those spots. The Knicks struggle slightly with switching defenses but this is the worst switching defense they’ve faced.
The Knicks are employing a more aggressive scheme this season vs. pick-and-roll, playing most at the level of the screen and pressuring the ball-handler. The Hornets with LaMelo Ball and Gordon Hayward are 12th league-wide in efficiency vs. that scheme.
I have this at 227, with a slight lean to the over. The money has moved this down from 225.5 to 223.5 as of this writing. It should be noted that totals that have moved down by at least two points have gone under in 37 of 59 so I’m concerned there, especially with a high total.
But with the over 9-4 in Hornets games, the trends still lean towards the over.
I’ve also already bet the Hornets, who I have favored in this game based on halfcourt and transition numbers. I show a big edge in fastbreak points and efficiency towards the Hornets. My best bet, however, is neither team stopping one another.
Pick: Over 224 | Hornets ML +108