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NBA SO/UP Bets and Analysis: Pacers-Knicks, Kings-Lakers

Analysis and bets for Tuesday's NBA games, featuring the Pacers visiting the Knicks and the Lakers welcoming the Kings.

The Pacers and Knicks meet for the fourth time this season Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. The home team has won each meeting so far. Will that continue?

The Kings travel south to take on the Lakers in their third meeting of the year. LeBron James has been scoring with ease over the past few weeks, but it hasn’t necessarily translated to wins. Will that change at the newly renamed Arena?

Guest picker Doug Vazquez and I discuss each game and make our bets.

Season record: 61-56-1
Guest pickers: 42-70

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New York Knicks' RJ Barrett (9) is defended by Indiana Pacers' Chris Duarte (3) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021, in Indianapolis.

Indiana Pacers (14-23) vs. New York Knicks (17-20)

Time: 7:30 p.m. ET, NBA TV
Spread: Pacers +2.5 (-110) | Knicks -2.5 (-110)
Moneyline: Pacers (+120) | Knicks (-143)
Total: Under 206.5 (-110) | Over 207.5 (-110)
Injuries: Knicks G Kemba Walker—Out; Knicks F Julius Randle—Questionable; Knicks C Mitchell Robinson—Questionable; Knicks G Derrick Rose—Out; Knicks C Nerlens Noel—Out; Pacers F T.J. Warren—Out; Pacers G Caris LeVert—Out; Pacers F Chris Duarte—Out; Pacers G Malcolm Brogdon—Out; Pacers G T.J. McConnell—Out

The Pacers have lost four straight and haven’t won on the road since Nov. 22, against the Bulls of all teams. Theses losses have come by an average of 4.4 points against the Bulls, Hornets and Cavaliers—all top-eight Eastern Conference teams.

Indiana has a +0.2 point differential, and has by far the worst winning percentage (.378) of any team with a positive differential this season. That’s in large part due to Indiana’s league-worst team clutch record of 4-16.

Availability has been an issue for the Pacers lately with guards Malcolm Brogdon (Achilles) and Caris LeVert (COVID-19) sidelined. That’s forced Indiana to rely even heavier on its big men Domantas Sabonis, whose numbers have regressed from his All-Star campaign, and Myles Turner, who is a frequent subject of trade talks. The Pacers are just below the middle of the back in scoring (107.7 PPG) and points allowed (107.5 PPG). It’s their inability to close games that’s sinking their record.

The Knicks suffered back-to-back 15-point losses in their last two games, though they strung together three wins in a row beforehand. Kemba Walker, who rejoined the Knicks lineup only recently due to availability issues, is back on the bench due to a knee injury. He returned to the lineup in a big way, dropping 44 points Dec. 23 and following that up with a Christmas Day triple-double.

New York is once again in need of point guard play with Derrick Rose and Walker injured. Second-round pick Miles McBride has been starting recently. Unsurprisingly, it’s the Knicks' offense that is dragging the team down. They rank 27th in the NBA in scoring (104.7 PPG), though they allow the seventh-fewest points (105.7 PPG).

Julius Randle was originally declared out for this game, but Tuesday morning he cleared the league’s health and safety protocols and is now questionable.

Kyle Wood’s Bets:

Spread pick: Pacers +2.5

Without Randle, the Knicks don’t have enough to cover or win against this Pacers team led by two dominant big men, so this pick hinges on his status. Indiana is surprisingly good Against the Spread (ATS), covering 50% of the time. New York is 16-21 ATS and was not competitive in its two games without Randle this season. Indiana has also won two of three meetings this season, though both wins came at home.

Over/Under pick: Under 206.5

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Both teams’ games go under more than half the time, and are missing stars players. The Knicks averaged just 95.2 PPG in their last five games, somehow going 3-2 in that stretch. Points will be difficult to come by for these floundering squads, hence the extremely low point total and my willingness to still take the under.

Prop: Myles Turner Over 7.5 Rebounds

New York was out-rebounded in both of its last two games with Randle—its leading rebounder—out of the lineup. Turner averages 7.4 rebounds on the season and grabbed 10 in his last game, though he’s only gone over 7.5 two times in his last five games. The Knicks potentially being short handed in the frontcourt gives me confidence he can grab eight-plus boards. I was tempted to go over on Sabonis’ line, but the line being set at 12.5 scared me off despite his recent outings.

Guest Picker Doug Vazquez’s Bets:

Moneyline or Spread pick: Pacers Moneyline

This game brings back memories from childhood when Reggie Miller used to torture the Knicks and Spike Lee at MSG. Unfortunately, these two teams are just not that good anymore and both have quite a few players missing. Julius Randle cleared COVID-19 protocols and is questionable, but his minutes could be limited until he is back in game shape. Both teams are performing under expectations and the buzz surrounding the Knicks' playoff berth last season has fizzled. I do think they are better than the Pacers when healthy, but with so many players missing I am going to side with the team that has the better player on the court and that is Domantas Sabonis. I think he will be too much for the Knicks to handle. I'm taking the Pacers ML at +125.

Over/Under pick: Under 206.5

Neither team is particularly good and there’s a bevy of scorers missing from both teams. The Knicks and Pacers have been pretty consistent in hitting the under in this spot. The Pacers have gone under in eight of their last nine as road underdogs, while the Knicks have done so in four of their last five games overall. I could see both teams staying in the mid 80s to low 90s for team totals, even with Randle on the court.

Prop: Myles Turner Points Plus Rebounds Plus Assists Over 23.5

With Turner being Indiana's second option and the Knicks most likely focusing most of their attention on stopping Sabonis (which I don’t think they will be able to do), I think this could be a big game for Turner. His player combo averages for this season (points plus rebounds plus assists) comes in at 21.9, which is just under his total prop for tonight of 23.5. With the Pacers hoping to stop their losing skid, Turner will be motivated in this one and exceed his season average.

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) gestures as he walks away from a time out followed by center Dwight Howard, left, in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021, in Memphis, Tenn.

Sacramento Kings (16-22) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (19-19)

Time: 10:30 p.m. ET, NBA TV
Spread: Kings +6.5 (-110) | Lakers -6.5 (-110)
Moneyline: Kings (+225) | Lakers (-275)
Total: Under 229.5 (+100) | Over 229.5 (-118)
Injuries: Kings G Terence Davis—Out; Kings C Richaun Holmes—Out; Lakers F LeBron James—Day-to-day; Lakers G Avery Bradley—Probable; Lakers G Kendrick Nunn—Out; Lakers F Anthony Davis—Out

The Kings are on a bit of an upswing, winning three of their last four including a victory against the Heat on Sunday. That stretch follows a three-game losing streak with each defeat coming by double digits. Sacramento is somehow hanging around with one of the worst point differentials in the NBA. The Kings have the league’s 12th-highest scoring offense (107.7 PPG) but rank 27th in points allowed (113.7 PPG).

Sacramento is a capable offense, led by De’Aaron Fox’s 20.1 PPG. The Kings also get respectable scoring contributions from Harrison Barnes (16.8 PPG) and Buddy Hield (15.5 PPG), but that trio does not make for a lockdown defense or anything close to it. 

The Lakers-Kings season series is tied 1-1, with the Lakers winning without LeBron James and losing with him.

James will be in the lineup Tuesday, and he’s been on a tear as of late. He’s led the Lakers in scoring in each of the last eight games, scoring 30-plus points in all but one of those contests. L.A. is 3-5 in that stretch. It’s taken ridiculously high point totals in recent weeks for the Lakers to come by wins as their defense continues to falter.

Los Angeles yielded 138 to the Spurs and 122 against the Nets in losses and 123 versus the Rockets in a win. The age-old concept of putting four players around James and him willing teams to victory is not panning out this season with Anthony Davis out for a sustained period and Russell Westbrook’s stats down across the board. L.A. is still a top-10 offense (111 PPG), though its defense ranks 26th in points allowed (116.2 PPG).

Kyle Wood’s Bets:

Spread pick: Kings +6.5

For all of its struggles, Sacramento has a .500 ATS record, which is better than the Lakers (15-23). The Kings have also been playing good basketball as of late, beating two quality teams in Dallas and Miami in the past week. I think the Lakers take this game considering how well James is playing, but I like the Kings with the points.

Over/Under pick: Over 229.5

These are two bottom-five defenses and top-12 offenses. Need I say more? The two meetings earlier in the season led to 278 (in triple-overtime) and 209 points. Given the Lakers’ propensity to allow teams to score at will combined with their ability to almost compensate for that terrible defense, I can see both of these teams pass the 110-point mark and maybe even creep into the 120s.

Prop: LeBron James Over 30.5 Points

James had 30 on the dot when these teams met earlier in the season. That was before he went nuclear. James averaged 30.7 PPG in December to up his season average to 28.5. He began the New Year with 26 points, albeit on just 15 shots. Since Anthony Davis went down, James has been scoring whenever he pleases and L.A. has needed him. Thirty-one points is hardly a big ask for James, even at this point in his career.

Guest Picker Doug Vazquez’s Bets:

Spread pick: Lakers -6.5

After a pretty tumultuous season so far in L.A., it looks like the Lakers may be on the right track. They finally got back to .500 and are attempting to win their third in a row. James is silencing his critics, playing at a world class level with 35.3 PPG, 9.9 RPG and 6.0 APG splits in his last seven games. The Kings did just upset the Heat and will be looking to keep their momentum going. I just think the Lakers are playing with added motivation as of late, especially James, and I don’t think they will be able to get the better of this matchup on the road. Both teams are pretty horrible ATS. The Lakers are 3-6 ATS in their last nine games.The Kings are 1-5 ATS in their last six games on the road. I think the Lakers have the slight edge and I will take them to cover.

Over/Under pick: Under 229.5

These squads have both been playing some hard-nosed defense as of late. They have both gone under in two of their last three, and each of their last 10 games have gone over half the time. This total seems a little too high for me.

Prop: LeBron James Under 30.5 Points

All of the Kings’ defensive focus should be on trying to limit LeBron, which is obviously a tall task. This is the type of game where James will be more of a playmaker than scorer, and his point total of 30.5 is high to me. He should exceed his rebound and assist props, but I am going to take a safe bet and take the under on his points prop.

DFS Value Plays

(Prices based on 7 p.m. main slate)
PG De’Aaron Fox, Kings (FD: $7,000 | DK: $7,100)
SG Malik Monk, Lakers (FD: $5,600 | $5,100)
SF/PG OG Anunoby, Raptors (FD: $6,400 | $7,000)
PF/C Kevin Love, Cavaliers (FD: $7,800 | $7,500)
C/PF Myles Turner, Pacers (FD: $7,600 | $6,800)

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