NEW YORK KNICKS (27-42)
at LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (41-29)
Tip-off: Monday, 10:30 p.m. ET
Line: Los Angeles -11, Total: 217.5
After a weekend of rest, the Knicks kick off a West Coast trip with a Monday game against the Clippers.
The Knicks have lost four of their last five games, with their last two Ls coming to the cross-town rival (and fellow very-bad-team) Brooklyn Nets, with the most recent being a 121-110 defeat in Madison Square Garden last Thursday (BK +5). The loss dropped their record to 27-42 (35-34 ATS), which gives them the fourth-worst record in the Eastern Conference and the seventh worst in the NBA. After three days of rest, New York embarks on a four-game Western Conference road trip that begins Monday night with a showdown with the Los Angeles Clippers. After a three-game losing streak, the Clippers picked up a huge 108-78 home win over Cleveland on Saturday night (LAC -13.5). It wasnít as much of an accomplishment as it may seem; the Cavs sat LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love for rest purposes. At 41-29 (34-36 ATS), Los Angeles is a full two games back of the Jazz for fourth place and finds Oklahoma City and Memphis each within a gameís reach behind them. Since 1996, favorites of 10 or more points coming off a game in which they allowed 80 points or fewer (LAC) are 24-54 ATS against teams coming off a game in which they allowed 110 points. Over the last five seasons, games involving a losing team coming off an upset loss at home (NYK) are 129-85 Over against totals of 200 or greater. Knicks PF Kristaps Porzingis is considered probable to play Monday with a bruised left thigh.
As the future of the franchise, Porzingis (18.0 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 2.0 BPG) might be the only reason to watch the Knicks at this point in the season. In the first of the two recent Nets matchups (last Sunday), he dominated in all facets with 19 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and five blocks. The game before, he had 18 points, six rebounds, four assists and six blocks against Detroit. He is fifth among all NBA players in blocked shots. It could be argued he is now the teamís best player, but that title still probably belongs to SF Carmelo Anthony (22.9 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 2.9 APG). He has been logging heavy minutes, having played at least 36 in five straight games. His scoring is up from last season, but his rebounding and assist numbers are down significantly. Itís unclear what role the front office sees Melo playing in the future of the franchise, but at the moment heís mostly just jacking shots. PG Derrick Rose (17.8 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 4.4 APG) and SG Courtney Lee (10.7 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 1.0 SPG) start in the backcourt, and Rose has been averaging 19.0 PPG in March. C Willy Hernangomez (7.2 PPG, 6.5 RPG) and perhaps also SG Ron Baker (3.3 PPG) are, aside from Porzingis, probably the only players currently on the roster that the team sees as part of its future.
Itís not a coincidence that the Clippersí recent struggles have coincided with a drop in production from PF Blake Griffin (21.3 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 5.1 APG). He is averaging 17.4 PPG in March, down nearly 10 points from his 26.2 average in February. The low point was an eight-point outing in 37 minutes of action in a loss to the Jazz last Monday. He was sharp against Cleveland, though, scoring 23 points on 10-of-17 shooting in 31 minutes. For the most part, PG Chris Paul (17.5 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 9.3 APG, 2.0 SPG) hasnít seen a similar drop-off in performance. He has, however, scored six points or fewer in two of his last three games, although that was inconsequential in the blowout win over the Cavs. Paul is fourth in the league in assists per game and second in steals. C DeAndre Jordan (12.5 PPG, 13.6 RPG, 1.7 BPG) has a role that allows for (and limits him to) pretty consistent performances, although he has been particularly monstrous on the boards with at least 17 rebounds in three of his last four games. He is third in the league in the category. SG J.J. Redick (14.7 PPG) and SF Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (5.9 PPG) also start, with Mbah a Moute rarely making an impact. Guards Jamal Crawford (12.1 PPG), Austin Rivers (12.1 PPG) and Raymond Felton (7.3 PPG) all play significant roles off the pine, as does C Marreese Speights (9.1 PPG, 4.5 RPG).