Today the 13-5 Denver Nuggets visit the 4-17 New York Knicks as both teams attempt to halt losing streaks (7:30 p.m. ET Thursday). Denver is coming off two close losses to the Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Lakers, while the Knicks are on a seven-game losing streak against a tough schedule.
The Knicks also have a few players expected to return from injury: Marcus Morris, Frank Ntilikina and Elfrid Payton. The Nuggets have been almost completely healthy this season. Here USAbetting will discuss some important questions that will impact the outcome of this game before we give our Denver Nuggets vs New York Knicks predictions in an attempt to get the better of the American-facing betting sites.
Will David Fizdale Utilize Taj Gibson More?
The Knicks put themselves in a tough position this offseason when they surprisingly signed four veteran players who have primarily played power forward throughout their career: Marcus Morris, Julius Randle, Bobby Portis and Taj Gibson. That’s not to say some of them can’t play different positions, but they have normally functioned best at the 4 spot.
So far, the 34-year-old Gibson has gotten the least playing time of the 4. It somewhat makes sense, since the other three are all younger players and New York is rebuilding its squad for the future. It does mean the Knicks are missing out on Gibson’s strong defense, rebounding and all-around heady play.
In Nikola Jokic, Paul Millsap and Mason Plumlee, Denver has three big-bodied big man who will feast in the paint if the Knicks aren’t defending well in the paint. Putting in Gibson for extended minutes can help ensure that the Nuggets’ offense is kept somewhat at bay.
Will Denver Win Free-Throw Battle?
One pretty crazy storyline from the Nuggets this season is their success in spite of constant problems with free-throw differential. Denver has attempted more free throws than its opponent just twice in its last 12 games, yet the squad has still gone 9-3 in those games. Of course, those two times also happened to be wins by 12 and 13 points, respectively.
The Nuggets’ No. 26 ranking in free-throw rate is clearly an issue for their underachieving offense. The team hasn’t attempted more than 23 free throws in a game since November 2, which is weird considering the NBA league average is 23.3 free throws attempted per game. The Nuggets’ elite defense has also struggled keeping teams off the line at times, too.
For Denver to live up to its potential in this game, the team needs to get into its offensive rhythm while keeping the Knicks out of theirs. The Knicks are a bad offensive team that has potential to play above their normal level if they gain confidence from seeing free throws go through the net. It is imperative for Denver to be focused and disciplined on both ends of the floor to win the free-throw battle.
Can R.J. Barrett Step Up As a Primary Offensive Option for the Knicks?
You are going to expect inconsistency from 19-year-old rookies who are handed the keys to the franchise. With 32.5 minutes per game and plenty of leeway to go through ups and downs, Barrett has been predictably inconsistent.
The explosive young wing is averaging 14.7 points per game, but he will often score either much more or much fewer points than that. He has had shooting performances of 9-of-13, 8-of-13, 6-of-11, 8-of-16 and 8-of-16 again. He has also had games of 1-of-9, 3-of-10, 4-of-13, 5-of-13 shooting and he just went 0-of-9 against the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday.
On paper, Denver’s smallish perimeter trio of Jamal Murray, Gary Harris and Will Barton could mean Barrett has an opportunity to play well in a featured role. All three are 6’5” or shorter and Barrett is 6’7” with a solid frame. However, he needs to realize that his size is his advantage in this matchup, not his skill or quickness. Both Harris and Barton are pesky, heady defenders, but they could struggle with Barrett’s frame.
Our Preview’s Denver Nuggets vs New York Knicks Betting Picks & Predictions Conclusion
The Knicks just lost to the Milwaukee Bucks by 44 points, which is tough to ignore. However, getting back three rotational pieces and returning home to play after two rest days could be helpful in providing a lift for the squad.
Denver is a much better team, but the Nuggets’ defense has benefitted from somewhat fluky bad shooting by opponents so far this season and the Nuggets have been notably worse on the road in recent seasons. I expect a Denver win, but it will be closer than oddsmakers think.
- The Nuggets are favored by 9 or 9.5 points. I think you should take New York +9.5pts on the spread @ -110 with Bovada. The other offshore bookies are +9pts.
- The Nuggets’ defense is good, but it is not as elite as their numbers suggest. The Knicks have players returning to the lineup after a longer break between games. which should amp up the team and cause a pace increase. A favorable matchup for Knicks wing RJ Barrett could also lead to more points for himI would take the over 203 total points @ -110 with Bovada, Bookmaker or Intertops.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.