Knicks vs. Suns Preview: Bet the Third Quarter

Andrew O'Connor-Watts previews Sunday's NBA tilt between the New York Knicks and the Phoenix Suns and offers up a betting pick.

Knicks vs. Suns Odds

Knicks Odds +6.5
Suns Odds -6.5
Over/Under 226
Time 3:30 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The New York Knicks are in Arizona to face the CP3-less Phoenix Suns.

Both teams are coming off road losses and will look to quickly get back in the win column.

So which team will it be?

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New York Knicks

The Knicks are coming off an atrocious shooting performance against the Warriors on Friday. That game was much more lopsided than the 111-101 final score might have you believe.

The Knicks are the second-worst three-point-shooting team in the NBA at 31.5% and it showed against Golden State. At one point, the Knicks were 1-for-11 from the three-point line, compared to the Warriors, who were 11-for-21. And it didn’t get much better for New York after that. The Knicks finished the game 9-for-34 from downtown and shot 34.5% from the field overall.

The Knicks’ ability to draw fouls and get to the line was a bright spot. They were an impressive 32-for-34 from the line and also won the turnover battle, but almost nothing can overcome a terrible shooting night.

While the Knicks are 10th in TOV%, the Suns defense is second in forcing them at 17%. The Knicks best hope against the Suns will be their ability to get to the line against a Phoenix team that is 24th in Opponent FT Rate.

Another key factor will be how the Knicks start the game. The Knicks are an impressive 10-6 ATS in the first half, but the Suns aren’t bad either at 8-5-2. However, when the Knicks are on the road, that record falls to 4-5.

Phoenix Suns

The Suns will once again be without Chris Paul. While Paul’s presence will be missed, the Suns have been surviving well without him.

Friday night’s loss to the Jazz was a heartbreaker, but the Suns will be at home and on a day’s rest when they face the Knicks, who are in their fourth city since Tuesday.

The Suns match up well against New York. The Knicks’ best offensive area is the midrange and Phoenix defends the midrange well, allowing opponents to shoot just 37.4% from inside the arc.

Phoenix can also take away New York’s ability to get into the paint. The Knicks are above-average in Rim Attempts (14th), but the Suns have the seventh-best rim defense, holding opponents to just 63% shooting.

The Knicks might keep it close in the first half, but I give the Suns a significant edge in the second half.

The Suns are one of the best third quarter teams in the league at 10-5 ATS. According to NBA Advanced Stats, the Suns have the best Offensive Rating in the NBA in the third quarter (122.3) and a top-10 Defensive Rating (109.1).

The Knicks, on the other hand, are one of the worst teams in the league coming out of the half. Their 6-10 ATS record in the third quarter is the fourth-worst in the league and they’re even worse on the road (3-6 ATS).

Knicks-Suns Pick

While I like the Suns in both halves, I see the most value in the third quarter spread. Even in their loss to the Jazz on Friday, the Suns outscored Utah 39-33 in the third quarter, something they’ve been consistently doing, even without Paul in the lineup.

Since Paul has been out with a heel injury, the Suns are 4-1 ATS in the third quarter. Meanwhile, the Knicks are 0-3 in the third quarter on this West Coast road trip.

Bet on the Suns to come out swinging in the second half and fade a Knicks team that could be struggling with fatigue in the midst of a busy week of travel.

I like the Suns third quarter line down to -2.

Pick: Suns -1.5 3Q (-112)