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MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES (37-31) at NEW YORK KNICKS (34-32)
Tip-off: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. EDT
Line: New York -4.5, Total: 215.5
The Grizzlies visit the Big Apple on Thursday seeking payback for the Knicks. They fell to New York on a last-second shot by Carmelo Anthony on March 9 in Memphis.
Memphis has one of the best records ATS this season at 42-25, including wins in nine of its past 13 games ATS. On the road, the Grizzlies are an impressive 22-13 ATS this season. In the loss to the Knicks earlier this season, they trailed by 14 points entering the fourth quarter before storming back and tying the game, only to lose on a buzzer-beater.
Since then, Memphis has split two games with Miami and the Clippers and currently sits 1½ games ahead of the Jazz for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. Zach Randolph had 30 points and 12 rebounds in the win over the Clippers on Monday, and is averaging 26.0 PPG and 13.6 RPG in his past five games against the Knicks.
The Knicks are also one of the best teams in the NBA ATS, posting a 39-25 record, but they have lost three straight both ATS and overall. New York’s defense has been deplorable in back-to-back losses against the Pacers and an 18-point defeat at Dallas, allowing an average of 117.3 PPG on 53.2% FG. At Indiana on Tuesday, the Knicks lost on a last-second shot by Danny Granger after rallying from as many as 15 points down to tie the game.
After averaging 32.5 PPG on 60% FG (7-of-10 three-pointers) in wins against the Jazz and at Memphis, Anthony is averaging 24.0 PPG on 42.5% FG during this three-game losing streak. Amar’e Stoudemire has picked up his scoring pace since Anthony joined the Knicks, averaging 29.8 PPG in his past nine games. Since returning to the lineup after missing six games with an injury, Chauncey Billups is averaging 11.5 PPG while shooting just 36.0 percent from the field and 0-for-11 from behind the arc.
The last time the Knicks took their home court and lost by 13 to Indiana, they were booed off by a fan base that expects results now, after watching half of their team’s roster go to Denver in getting two high-profile players in Anthony and Billups. The talk-show circuits in New York want Mike D’Antoni’s head for the Knicks lack of defense, but they did hold the Hawks, Hornets and Heat, all teams that will be in the postseason, to under 90 points with this new roster.
Before New Yorkers burn the Garden down in protest, the Knicks should put together a much better defensive effort Thursday night and defeat the Grizzlies.
New York Knicks still needs some more firepower
The New York Knicks have NFL Odds earned respect this season with the arrival and stellar play of Amar’e Stoudemire, but former Knicks superstar John Starks believes that the team needs to add a few more pieces in order to contend for an NBA title.
Starks, who have been a constant follower of the Knicks since he retired, said that the sky is the limit for the team, but the Knicks would be more formidable if they would be able to add two or more solid players in their fold.
“We definitely need a couple more players,” Starks said. “I know there's been talk about certain players coming here and Donnie Walsh understands what it takes in order to put together a championship squad. He did it when he was in Indiana and he's doing a masterful job here in New York.”
Starks, who have been a crowd favorite during his eight seasons with the Knicks from 1990 to 1998, remains confident that Walsh is the right man for the job and he believes that the veteran general manager would be able to build a championship contender like what he did when he was still with the Indiana Pacers. Walsh had a successful stint with the Pacers, putting together a team that reached the 2000 NBA Finals, although they vowed to the Shaquille O’Neal-led Los Angeles Lakers.
“You always have to continue to improve. You can't just sit still in this league and hope for the best,” Starks said. “And what Donnie is trying to do is he's trying to put together that team can definitely get us back to the Finals.”
The Knicks have the ability to add another marquee player in their fold because they are expected to be a huge player when the trade deadline approaches. New York was reportedly Carmelo Anthony’s preferred destination.
The Denver Nuggets forward has been involved in a lot of trade rumors since the off-season, and the Knicks are one of the most aggressive suitors for the superstar forward. The Knicks are willing to unload players other than Stoudemire plus first-round draft picks on order to acquire Anthony.
Although Starks did not directly talked about acquiring Carmelo Anthony, Starks said that acquiring an elite player, while giving up a hefty package of players would be a good gamble depending on the quality of player the Knicks would acquire.
“It's happened before in the past and it worked out,” Starks said. “Depending on what player you're going after and what you have to give up. That's the business that's we're in. You sometimes have to give up a little bit more to get the type of player that you want.”
Starks, who was a member of the Knicks that reached the 1993-94 NBA Finals, also expressed excitement about the renewed hope and energy of the Knicks fans. Starks said that the recent decent showing from the Knicks have brought Madison Square Garden to its status of being the best basketball arena in the World.
“You can see the intensity, the energy that's in the building again and it's just exciting to see the city lit up right now,” Starks said. “Walking down the street yesterday and you can hear the rhetoric about the Knicks now, and you haven't heard that in some years.”
After being a regular cellar-dweller in past few years, the Knicks are on pace to return to the playoffs this season and adding another marquee player like Carmelo Anthony would make them an instant title-contender this season. The Knicks are +900 to win the Eastern Conference championship according to the Basketball Odds at Sportsbook.com the home of NBA betting.
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Houston Rockets center Yao Ming out for the season
After making his much-awaited return this season from an injury, Houston Rockets center Yao Ming absorbed another setback and will be out for the rest of the season because of a stress fracture in his left ankle that also caused him to miss the entire season last year, much to the disappointment of NBA betting.
Yao, who averaged 10.2 points and 5.4 rebounds in 18.2 minutes per game this season, has been sidelined since November 10, but the Rockets team training staff didn’t immediately discovered that Yao sustained a stress fracture that was related to his previous injury.
Rockets head coach Rick Adelman was saddened with the news, saying that they were excited to have Yao back in their fold. Adelman also added that they were planning to give Yao more minutes after limiting him to less than 24 minutes early in the season, which was a plan to prevent Yao from absorbing another stress fracture injury.
“It's just really sad, and you have to really feel for him because he's worked so hard to come back and then to have this happen,” Adelman said. “He was talking about getting out to play pretty soon, and now to get the news, you really feel for him and feel for our team.”
The Rockets team physician Walter Lowe said that they are still weighing their options, but having a surgery that would need 10 months of recovery period is on top of their list. Lowe also pointed out that the surgery Yao had last year was not a fluke because Yao has been prone to stress fracture for his entire career.
“When you look at the course of Yao's career, stress fractures have been part of his foot,” Lowe said. “So to say he's not at a risk to continue to have stress fractures would be crazy. So he is at a continued risk. The new position of his foot should make those stresses lower.”
The new stress fracture injury that Yao sustained could put his career in jeopardy, but Rockets general manager Daryl Morey remains optimistic that Yao would eventually recover again from the injury and help them in the future.
“We need to continue to talk to the doctors and see where that goes,” Morey said. “Yao Ming's an All-Star center and when you look throughout the league there's not very many of them. So if it looks like there's a good prognosis here and we're still learning how good that prognosis will be, for sure we're going to look at Yao Ming past this season.”
The Chinese superstar center is in the final year of the contract he signed in 2005, and GM Morey is not disclosing the possibility of dealing Yao to another team, although he prefers to make a move later in the season or next summer. Despite losing their starting center, Morey is still confident that they can still make the Playoffs, although it would be a tough goal to reach after winning in only 12 of their first 27 games this season.
“We still feel like we're a team that can make the playoffs this season,” Morey said. “We feel like we're fighting with about four or five other teams for maybe the seven, eight seed this season. I know our guys in the locker room aren't writing the season off. I know I'm not. I know coach Rick Adelman isn't. We still think this can be a great season.”
Yao Ming will be a big loss for the Rockets this season and without him, reaching the Playoffs this season will be a difficult task for them, unless their big men like Jordan Hill and Luis Scola will have a drastic improvement this season.
With Yao out the Rockets have dropped to +7500 to win the Western Conference championship this season according to Sportsbook.com. As an NBA bettor are you wagering on the Rockets this season? Get over to Sportsbook.com the home of NBA betting and get into the action today.
ATLANTA HAWKS (13-8) at ORLANDO MAGIC (15-5)
Sportsbook.com using Orlando -6.5 &188
Only eight players were active for the Magic in their 96-85 loss in Milwaukee, as Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson, J.J. Redick and Mickael Pietrus were home with a stomach virus. Ryan Anderson was also out with a sprained foot. The 11-point loss to the Bucks snapped a six-game winning streak for the Magic.
Howard, Nelson and Pietrus also missed Friday's 104-91 win at Detroit, and they remain day-to-day. Redick missed Friday's game and Tuesday's win over Chicago. Anderson is listed as doubtful for Monday.
Howard won't want to miss his third straight game, especially given his success against the Hawks. He's averaged 22.0 points and 16.8 rebounds against Atlanta the past six meetings and is at 21.3 PPG, 12.1 RPG and 2.4 BPG for the season. In a Nov. 8 home win over the Hawks, 93-89, he scored 27 points and pulled down 11 boards.
The Magic have five players who are scoring in double-digits this season. Vince Carter is second on the team in scoring (15.4 PPG), while Jameer Nelson is third with 14.9 PPG and a team-best 7.1 APG.
Carter scored 19 points against Atlanta in the season's first meeting, hitting 8-of-12 from the field.
The Hawks are having their own health problems as Joe Johnson will remain out for at least a month. Johnson (17.1 PPG, 5.2 APG) is sidelined four-to-six weeks after undergoing arthroscopic elbow surgery this past Thursday. He scored 23 in the early-November loss at Orlando.
The Hawks lost at Miami on Saturday, 89-77, which ended a five-game winning streak and gave them their third road loss in 10 games (7-3 SU and ATS).
Al Horford (16.7 PPG, 9.4 RPG) scored 22 points on 10-of-11 shooting, but the rest of the team was held to 31.9% FG. Horford had 16 points, five rebou*nds and five assists in the first meeting between the two teams.
Johnson and Horford are two of six players who are averaging double-figures in scoring for Atlanta. Josh Smith (14.9 PPG, 8.9 RPG), Jamal Crawford (14.0 PPG), Mike Bibby (10.3 PPG) and Marvin Williams (10.1 PPG) are the other.
The November loss marked Atlanta's sixth straight defeat in Orlando. The Hawks haven't won on the road against the Magic since a 99-85 victory on Oct. 29, 2008. The Magic swept four games from the Hawks in the 2010 playoffs, winning by an average of 25.3 points.
Including this postseason matchup, the Magic are 11-2 SU (10-3 ATS) against the Hawks over the past three seasons.
79% of action at Sportsbook.com is banking that Orlando will continue their success against the Hawks by winning and covering the spread.
Play On - Favorites of 3.5 to 9.5 points (ORLANDO) - off a road loss by 10 points or more, good team, winning 60-75% or more of their games on the season. (239-157 since 1996.) (60.4%, +66.3 units. Rating = 2*).
Ten of the past 13 meetings have finished Under the Total, but this trend thinks the Over.
Play Over - Any team (ORLANDO) - off a road loss against opponent off an embarrassing road loss scoring less than 80 points. (74-36 over the last 5 seasons.) (67.3%, +34.4 units. Rating = 2*).