Cleveland Cavaliers @ New York Knicks (+8.5) NBA Picks: The Knicks have had a history of playing good teams tough, especially in the National spotlight – I think that continues here. Basketball is weird and a close game can easily become a 10 point contest, but with Cleveland going down to the wire in a physical game with the Bulls last night, and their bench being relatively ineffective to start the season, I think they’ll have a hard time coming out and dominating the Knicks. New York definitely has that “me against the world” attitude, and with the cameras on, and ESPN at the Garden, I like New York’s chances.
Neither of these teams have been good against the spread this year, but New York hasn’t been a big underdog once this season. The Cavs have been big favorites often. I think the Knicks can keep it close with the long ball and the fast break. I don’t know if New York could stop Shaquille O’Neal and Ilgauskus, but the Cavs aren’t committed to the post game. That helps New York. LeBron James also got beat up a little last night, falling hard into the stands and rolling his ankle while going out of bounds. He’ll play, he’ll be good, but that and a back to back could take it’s toll.
San Antonio Spurs @ Portland Trail Blazers (-3): After getting beat up for most of the night against the Jazz on TNT Thursday Night, the Spurs get to travel up to Portland to play a late game against a pretty physically athletic Trail Blazers unit. Tim Duncan has looked old so far this season, but he’s still very good. San Antonio just doesn’t seem to have that swagger that they’ve had in the past, and I know Portland will come out ready to play against one of the NBA’s premier teams.
With the second game of a back to back, the Spurs definitely don’t have an advantage in that aspect of the game. The Blazers are playing at home, they have size and as much depth as any team in the league. I see that being a problem for San Antonio, I like the Blazers to cover the small spread to get back to .500 on the season. They’ve played better than their record insists, and that’s going to even out sooner or later, I’m guessing sooner.