The New York Knicks head to the “City of Brotherly Love” to face the Philadelphia 76ers in the first of four Thursday night games in the NBA. Both teams will be coming off Wednesday night contests, so this game will be a true test of bench depth.
For the New York Knicks, this game will be their third straight road game after facing the Rockets and the Hornets. Although this will be no easy feat, the Knicks have been able to pull off upsets in the past.
The Sixers are currently the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference with the Indiana Pacers following closely behind. While Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid will remain out for some time, it’d be good for the Sixers to get a run going heading into the playoffs.
With their top two stars out of this game, I would’ve thought the spread would be smaller, but the Sixers still come in as 9.5-point favorites. Let’s look at both teams and decide who’s the best bet to make.
Knicks known to pull off upsets
Although it’s very unlikely to happen, the New York Knicks have pulled off upsets before, most recently against the eighth-seed Orlando Magic. With Julius Randle and Taj Gibson both having big games in that one, they’ll need them to put out the same output against a Ben Simmons-less Philadelphia team.
The Knicks have already met their amount of wins from last season, so it’s safe to say they’ve improved. A few more acquisitions and draft picks, and the Knicks could turn into a much improved Eastern Conference team. On Thursday night, they’ll have to face the Sixers, and although they aren’t anywhere near playoff contention, an upset over an Eastern Conference contender builds morale.
The Knicks aren’t unfamiliar with upsets; they recently went on a four-game win streak that included upsets against the Pacers and the Magic. Fortunately, the Knicks won’t have to worry about superstar center Joel Embiid, who is out with a shoulder injury.
Against the spread, the Knicks are just over the .500 mark, and when these teams faced in January, the Knicks were able to barely cover the four-point spread. An interesting trend to note is that the Knicks fare better against the spread on the road than they do at home.
Sixers hit with injury bug at the wrong time
With Simmons with no timetable for return and Embiid out, who will put the Sixers on their shoulders to carry them to success? Tobias Harris doesn’t seem capable of carrying a larger load, and without Embiid and Simmons, the Sixers are all but doomed. Especially with a tough schedule after facing the Knicks, it’s imperative that the Sixers find a way to win this one.
The problem I have with Philadelphia is consistency, one week they look like a serious Eastern Conference contender, the next they lose by thirty to Miami. Consistency is something that they’ll need to focus on heading into the playoffs; in the meantime, the Knicks are the target.
Being under .500 against the spread is enough to make any bettor stray away from the Sixers. It falls back to consistency; unfortunately, you can’t rely on the Sixers to consistently cover. The only saving grace for Philadelphia against the spread is their 17-12 ATS home record. However, remember to note that Philadelphia is 0-3 ATS in their last three games against the Knicks.
Pick and Prediction
This could potentially be a dangerous bet, but I believe without Simmons and Embiid, the Knicks will be able to cover. Considering the spread is smaller than it would be if Simmons and Embiid were playing, I have more confidence in the Knicks coming out on top.
The only thing I’m slightly worried about is the Knicks traveling on back-to-back nights. But without Embiid and Simmons, I’ll take the road team in this one, Knicks +9.5.