Season opener: New York Knicks vs. San Antonio Spurs
The odds at Bovada sportsbook favor the Spurs at home by 9.5 points.
Considering it is the first game of the season and the San Antonio will be at home, most likely in front of a packed house that is animated over the start of their new NBA campaign, this number makes sense.
But nearly 10 points, is a lot. And to be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this number go past 10 as the public bets the line up.
The New York Knicks are a team in full-on rebuild mode. The Spurs are not the powerhouse that they once were. Although they finished 7th in the Western Conference last season, they are one of the only teams that remain winless after three games this preseason. Through the first three games this preseason, the Spurs have averaged just 97.33 points per game on offense, they had a high-scoring game of 114 points that offset two 89-point appearances. The one place they have been consistent in is their defense. It has consistently sucked thus far. They are hemorrhaging points at 125 allowed per game.
The Knicks, on the other hand, won their preseason opener against the Washington Wizards 104 to 99. Then they came home to Madison Square Garden for game two of the series and lost 99 to 115. This was thanks to an explosive second quarter where the Wizards scored 41 points.
Marcus Morris is looking good. He put up 17 in the first game against the Wizards then 21 on the second. Julius Randle mixed ut up with 14 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists in the second game, and 11 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists in the preseason opener.
RJ Barrett also did well, scoring in double-digits on both nights along with a handful of rebounds. He dropped in 17 during the first game of the preseason and 15 on the second and snagged 7 boards on both occasions.
People are already predicting that the Spurs’ Dejounte Murray will join the 5-5-5 club. But I don’t know. It doesn’t look like San Antonio is as good defensively as people thought they’d be. And they definitely are not as looking as good as they have been in years past. Last season, the Spurs were horrendous in transition defense. They allowed what amounts to 1.19 ppp. They might end up even worse at it this year. We should expect David Fizdale to be keyed into this and run a lot of fast-break offense and quick transitions to exploit the Spurs blaring weakness.
If the Fizdale and the New York Knicks can set a fast pace and keep the ball moving quickly down the court in transition, it might just be the key to victory. It will certainly be the key to covering that 9.5-point – soon to be double-digit– point spread.
We are likely to see Marcus Morris, RJ Barrett, Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson, and Dennis Smith, Jr. as the starters.
The Spurs lineup is even more predictable. We should see them run smaller with DeMar Rozan, DeJounte Murray, Bryn Forbes, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Jakob Poeltl.
It will essentially be three power forwards, a point guard, and a center for the Knicks, against three shooting guards, a forward, and a center for the Spurs. The matchup will be quite interesting, and I believe the Knicks have the chance to wear down the Spurs in the paint on the baseline. We could see New York start to take over later in the game.