Knicks vs. Nets: Trends Say New York Has Early Edge

Action Network contributor Jim Turvey previews how to bet Knicks vs. Nets, including updated odds, picks & predictions for Saturday's game.

Knicks vs. Nets Odds

Knicks Odds +1.5
Nets Odds -1.5
Over/Under 226.5
Time 5:30 p.m. ET
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Battle of the Boroughs gets its second iteration of the season on Saturday evening, and it’s gets the early evening ABC slot to boot. The NBA was hoping that Kevin Durant would be around for this showdown, but with Kyrie Irving and a pair of potential All-Stars in New York — in the form of Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson — plenty of stars will still be out at Barclays Center.

The Knicks come into this game feeling confident after back-to-back wins. It might not sound like much, but wins over the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics ended a mini four-game losing streak and proved that the Knicks can hang with the big boys of the East.

Brooklyn has seen its fortunes turn the other way, with a two-game losing skid on the books, including a home loss to the Detroit Pistons the last time out that was among their worst losses all season. The team is also quite nicked up, with Durant (obviously) sidelined, T.J. Warren doubtful, Ben Simmons and Day-Ron Sharpe questionable, and Edmond Sumner probable.

The game opened at a near pick’em, with a bit of a move to Brooklyn so far, but I’ll be looking towards a derivative market that has proven profitable this season. Let’s take a look a the Knicks vs. Nets odds.

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New York Knicks

The last two wins were key for the Knicks not just in that they stopped that mini losing streak, but it also helped stabilize a defense that had looked quite shoddy after Mitchell Robinson went out in their Jan. 18 game against he Washington Wizards.

Robinson has been their biggest on-off court differential player this season, and is invaluable to their defense. The team has turned to Jericho Sims to fill Robinson’s starting center spot, and he has performed admirably for a player with barely over 1,000 career minutes, but the drop-off is noticeable.

One pattern that has remained consistently with Robinson in or out of the lineup, is the Knicks’ fast starts and poor finishes.

The Knicks have the fourth-best net rating in first halves this season, and the seventh-best net rating in the first quarter. Because they are more middle of the road in the market, those lofty ranks have translated to great records against the spread in both markets.

Through Thursday’s games, by ROI, the Knicks are the third-best first quarter team, and the best — BY FAR — first half team vs the spread. The Knicks are a whopping 36-14 against the spread in the first half, with a 37.5% ROI for bettors blind betting the Knicks first half. This lines up well with their opponent on Saturday.

The Nets have been a bit of the opposite. They are 19-28-1 against the spread in first halves this season, for a -22.2 ROI that ranks fourth-worst in the league.

The team has put together strong first quarters, but often struggles greatly in the second quarter, which makes sense given their lack of depth and struggles with injury this season.

The Nets are also reliant on their strong 3-point shooting, ranking second in the league in three-point field goal percentage. The Knicks, on the other hand, have excelled in terms of limiting opponent 3-point field goal percentage, with only two teams allowing a lower percentage from beyond the arc. Normally that could be written down as mostly luck, but these Thibodeau Knicks have been able to rank well in that category for most of his tenure.

One final factor in the Knicks favor is that the Nets are among the most reliant teams on isolation plays in the NBA. Only two teams go to Iso plays more often, per game, than the Nets, and no team does it better on a points per possession basis than Brooklyn.

Of course, a large portion of that is Durant, and the news only gets worse: The Knicks allow the second-fewest points on isolation plays per game, and are among the best in the league on a per play basis as well when it comes to guarding in isolation.

Knicks-Nets Pick

All that leads to the Knicks side. But given their struggles late in close games (this should end up not far from a pick’em), I’m going to target that first half bet. It’s a targeted play on a derivative where the Knicks are by far the best in the league, and the Nets are fourth-worst.

You can get the moneyline at -105 right now, and I would play that out to Knicks -135. You could also look for the spread out to Knicks -1.5 (-115).

Pick: Knicks first half moneyline -105