Tom Thibodeau and the New York Knicks try to snap a three-game skid when they meet the Pistons Saturday night. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)
The trade deadline has come and gone, but the Detroit Pistons’ chances of being a viable playoff team in the Eastern Conference faded long ago.
Detroit fans have likely resigned themselves to tanking out the rest of the season to secure a decent chance to draft Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham, which is great news for the New York Knicks. New York comes to Motown on Saturday night on a three-game losing streak, but are looking to get things turned around against a team they’ve already defeated twice this season.
The Knicks are 2.5-point favorites, but it could be much worse than that for the Pistons, who have one of the league’s worst offenses and have been without Blake Griffin for nearly a month following his buyout.
Knicks vs Pistons Odds
|Team||Spread at FanDuel||Moneyline||Total|
|New York Knicks||-2.5 (-110)||-136||N/A|
|Detroit Pistons||+2.5 (-110)||+116||N/A|
Odds as of April 2nd.
Low Watchability Factor
Outside of diehard fans, there isn’t a lot of appeal for many to settle on this one when looking at the league schedule of games to watch on Saturday.
Both teams rank among the lowest paces of play in the league, and both are in the bottom-6 offenses. New York has been a predictably stout defensive team under Tom Thibodeau, and has held its opponents to the lowest offensive output per game in the NBA.
That’s that Tom Thibodeau defense, folks
— Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) April 1, 2021
The Knicks were the model of inefficiency against Dallas at home on Friday night in a 99-86 loss, but should be able to bounce back a bit against a Detroit side that ranks 25th in opponent field-goal percentage and 20th in opponent three-point percentage.
The Pistons have been up-and-down recently, but are just 4-8 since the All-Star break. Outside of recent wins against the lowly Washington Wizards and underwhelming Toronto Raptors, Detroit has lost five of its last seven. Besides the move that brought Derrick Rose to New York, neither team did much to add intrigue to their rosters for the final stretch of the season.
Could the Pistons be Primed for an Upset?
By their own standards, the Pistons are playing above their averages in recent games.
Detroit has shot 42% from three-point range in its last three games, which could present a challenge for the Knicks, who have led the league in three-point shooting defense for much of the year.
The Pistons have scored nearly 49 points in the paint per game over their last three, and even though Nerlens Noel has been a willing rim protector for the Knicks, they are without top shot blocker Mitchell Robinson for the foreseeable future.
Beyond Robinson’s injury, the Knicks are attempting to play through a variety of other ailments that seemed to hamper them in Friday’s loss to Dallas. RJ Barrett had been contending with an ankle injury, and shot just 27% from the field against the Mavs.
Reggie Bullock is a generally inefficient player to begin with, but after coming back from an illness, he attempted nine three-pointers and made four, which accounted for his only made field goals for the game.
Julius Randle had his 14th game this season with 20 pts, 10 rebs & 5 ast. Only Bob McAdoo (17 such games in 1977-78) had more in a season in Knicks history. pic.twitter.com/wY8B4vIMCq
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 1, 2021
After starting the season hot, Julius Randle been far more of a wildcard since March. Following the All-Star break, he had two consecutive games where he played few minutes and scored in single digits. In the entire month of February, he only had one game where he scored fewer than 21 points, since last month, he’s had seven — including Friday night.
Making the Pick
One or both of these teams seems likely to score fewer than 100 points on Saturday, and sportsbooks are waiting as long as possible to post point total projections in this one. The bottom line is the Knicks’ defense doesn’t let down just because their offense has been flat, and on a home-away back-to-back, that might be the best New York can hope for, regardless of Detroit’s poor form.
New York could be starting a late season swoon, but whenever the total is posted, the under appears to be the best bet for this game, no matter the number.
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