NEW YORK KNICKS (1-0) at CHICAGO BULLS (0-1)
Sportsbok.ag Line & Total: Chicago -7.5 & 188
The Knicks look to improve to 2-0 while the Bulls aim for their first win of the young season when these two teams square off in Chicago on Thursday night.
The Bulls lost their first game of the season Tuesday, 107-95 to the Heat, while the Knicks started off with a 90-83 home victory over the Bucks on Wednesday. Chicago has dominated this series recently with five straight victories (SU and ATS) over New York, which includes last season’s four-game sweep that occurred without superstar PG Derrick Rose. He returned from a torn ACL to play his first regular season game in over a year against the Heat on Tuesday, but made just 4-of-15 shots, including 1-of-7 threes. Although Chicago got off to a slow start on Tuesday, the team is 8-0 ATS after scoring 35 points or less in the first half of their last game since Tom Thibodeau took over as head coach. However, the Knicks are 19-7 ATS (73%) when playing on back-to-back nights since Mike Woodson started coaching the team. In addition to SG J.R Smith being out with a four-game suspension for violating the NBA’s drug policy, the Knicks could be without starting PG Raymond Felton who injured his hamstring on Wednesday and is considered questionable. However, PF Amar’e Stoudemire will make his season debut on Thursday replacing PF Kenyon Martin, who won’t play back-to-back games.
The Knicks nearly squandered a 25-point halftime lead Wednesday against the Bucks, needing to overcome a deficit with less than three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. New York was able to pull away to win by seven points behind the superb play of C Tyson Chandler who blocked five shots while adding 10 points, six rebounds and three steals in what was an amazing defensive performance by the former NBA Defensive Player of the Year. SF Carmelo Anthony scored only 19 points (7-of-16 FG), but pulled down 10 rebounds while adding some timely buckets for New York in the fourth quarter. Anthony scored 34.7 PPG against Chicago last season, but made just 41% FG and 28% threes in the series. PG Raymond Felton added 18 points, three assists and three steals for New York on Wednesday despite pulling his hamstring in the second half. If he can’t go, that would be a big loss for the Knicks considering he produced 22.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG and 4.7 APG in three games versus Chicago last season. SG Iman Shumpert made his bid to keep his starting job when J.R Smith returns from suspension, adding 16 points (5-of-13 FG), four rebounds and a block in 33 minutes. The Knicks will need to cut down on their turnovers if they are going to beat the Bulls, as they finished the game with a miserable 22 giveaways. But the defense forced 24 Bucks miscues and compiled a dozen steals.
The Bulls had a poor defensive showing in their opener, allowing the Heat to score 107 points on 51.4% FG and 11-of-20 threes (55%). Although PG Derrick Rose looked healthy in his first game back on the court since April 28, 2012, he struggled defensively at times. Rose finished the game with 12 points on 4-of-15 shooting and four assists, but allowed Heat PG Mario Chalmers to outscore him with 13 points. Rose has punished the Knicks in his career though, scoring 24.7 PPG on 48% FG with 7.1 APG in the 13 meetings. The best player on the court for the Bulls on Tuesday was PF Carlos Boozer. He was unstoppable at times and finished the game 13-of-18 from the floor for 31 points, seven rebounds and a block. SG Jimmy Butler, who could be poised for a breakout season, scored 20 points and also led his team with five steals and a +10 rating. As Rose begins to get more comfortable with regular season basketball, the Bulls will continue to improve. Their tough frontcourt has provided the Knicks with problems in the past, but SF Luol Deng and C Joakim Noah will need to perform much better than Tuesday when the duo combined for just six points on 3-of-12 shooting.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (1-0) at LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (0-1)
Line & Total: Clippers -6.5 & 205
The Warriors attempt to complete an L.A. sweep when they visit the Clippers on Thursday night, one night after embarrassing the Lakers at home.
The Clippers had an extremely disappointing result in their season opener against Lakers on Tuesday, losing 116-103 as 10-point favorites. In that game, the Clippers shot very well, going 41-of-83 (49.4%) from the floor, but gave up too many threes (14) and allowed the Lakers bench to take over the game late. Golden State also played the Lakers in its first game, but with much better results. The Warriors pulled out to an early lead and never looked back in an impressive 125-94 victory, when they shot 15-for-27 (55.6%) from behind the arc. Golden State did well against the Clippers last season, going 3-1 both SU and ATS. All four of those meetings finished Over the total. The Warriors offense was extremely impressive in these games, averaging 106.0 PPG on 49% FG and 41% threes in the season series. Since 1996, this series has been very tight, with the Clippers holding a 37-30 SU advantage (.552) and going an even 32-32-3 ATS. Warriors SF Harrison Barnes did not play on Wednesday and is expected to miss this game too because of a foot injury.
Golden State had a tremendous run in last season’s playoffs and really showed the rest of the league that it was a team to be reckoned with. Scoring 101.2 PPG last season, the Warriors ranked seventh in the league. They showed that they can continue as an offensive juggernaut this season by putting up 125 points against the Lakers on Wednesday night. Golden State was not as impressive on defense last season though, allowing 100.3 PPG. The club added SF Andre Iguodala in the offseason in an attempt to improve this part of their game. Iguodala (7 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals on Wednesday) has struggled in his 18 career games against the Clippers though, shooting only 42.6% from the field, which is much lower than his career 46.0% shooting. Providing most of the offense for the Warriors will most likely be the backcourt duo of PG Stephen Curry and SG Klay Thompson. These two combined to hit 483 total 3-pointers last season, with Curry leading the NBA with 272 and Thompson ranking third with 211. The duo combined to make 7-of-12 threes against the Lakers with a combined 48 points (38 by Thompson) and a +58 rating. However, both Curry (18.3 PPG, 5.5 APG in 15 career games) and Thompson (13.8 PPG, 41% FG in 8 career games) have played below their career averages against the Clippers. PF David Lee led the league last year with 56 double-doubles, and averaged 13.5 PPG and 10.3 RPG over the four games played between these teams last season. Although he did not start the 2013-14 season with a double-double (24 points, eight rebounds), Lee did make 8-of-13 shots and dished out five assists.
The Clippers averaged 101.1 PPG last season (T-8th in NBA) and bettered that mark with their 103 points scored on Tuesday night against the Lakers. They unfortunately gave up 116 points in that game (41 in fourth quarter), which matched the most points they allowed in a regulation game last season. PG Chris Paul was his usual self against the Lakers (15 points, 11 assists, 6 rebounds and 5 steals) but was only 5-for-13 from the field. Against the Warriors last season, Paul averaged 20.3 PPG on 50% FG with 8.5 APG. PF Blake Griffin had 19 points and seven rebounds on Tuesday night, but only made 3-of-10 from the charity stripe. He will need to match his numbers from his 12 career games against the Warriors (21.7 PPG, 10.4 RPG) and greatly improve his free-throw efficiency in order to have better results for L.A. than he did last season. Another key piece on the Clippers team, C DeAndre Jordan, will have his work cut out for him facing the likes of Andrew Bogut and David Lee. Jordan really struggled last season in this series, scoring only 5.5 PPG with 5.8 RPG and 1.0 BPG over the four games. SG Jamal Crawford shot only 5-for-13 against the Lakers on Wednesday, but was on the mark last season against Golden State, scoring 25.0 PPG on 48.1% FG and 48.3% threes (14-of-29). The Clippers had the NBA’s fourth-best defense last season (94.6 PPG) but allowed an average of 106.0 PPG to the Warriors. They will need to have their defense working hard in order to slow down this potent Golden State offense.