One of the best stories of the season continued last night when the New York Knicks overcame the Atlanta Hawks 137-127 for their eighth consecutive win and 11th straight cover. The win streak is absolutely incredible, but how the Knicks have done it is even more fascinating.
Over the course of this 11-0 ATS run, New York has the fourth-best offensive rating in the league, averaging 117.8 points every 100 possessions. This surge on offense is a result of their unreal shooting. The Knicks are taking 32.0 3-point attempts per game in non-garbage time minutes and shooting 42.9% on those shots, according to Cleaning The Glass. Role players like Reggie Bullock (44.4% on 8.2 3-point attempts per game) and Derrick Rose (14.9 points per game on 50.0% shooting from the floor) have buoyed this newfound offense for the Knickerbockers, but the real star has been the favorite to win Most Improved Player this season, Julius Randle.
Last night, Randle led the way for New York with 40 points on 11-of-21 shooting, but that was just one game in a dominant run for the seventh-year pro. Randle has averaged 28.2 points, 9.5 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game on 44.4% shooting from the floor during this run. He has two 40-point games in his last four starts and he is shooting 40.8% from deep on 6.9 attempts per game. Randle has been such a key cog for Tom Thibodeau and New York that it would not be surprising to see him snatch a few MVP votes.
Speaking of Thibodeau, lest you think this run is all about some hot shooting, the Knickerbockers have the sixth-best defensive rating in the league over the course of this run (107.2). Thibs has put himself squarely in the race for Coach of the Year with this turnaround at Madison Square Garden.
In the big picture, it is hard to see New York maintaining this level of play on offense as we head into the postseason. However, it is not unrealistic to think the Knicks have a date with any one of the top three seeds in the Eastern Conference semifinals. This team has the ability to win a playoff series with the level of defensive play it puts on the floor every single night.
Updated odds for every game can be found here.
Updated injury reports for every game can be found here.
*Indicates team is on the second leg of a back-to-back
The Main Event
Philadelphia 76ers* at Milwaukee Bucks (-6, 227.5)
Three-and-a-half games separate Philadelphia from Milwaukee in the race for the top seed in the Eastern Conference, so if the Bucks are going to make a run at this it starts today. However, Milwaukee’s recent form has really put them behind the 8-ball.
Since March 26, the Bucks are 6-8 SU/5-9 ATS, but they have managed to post a + 1.8 net rating. The problem has been a defense that has been overwhelmingly average, giving up 111.7 points every 100 possessions. Their perimeter defense, which has been a problem all season long, has been downright ugly over the course of these 14 games. Milwaukee is giving up the third-most 3-point attempts of any team in the league, and opponents are shooting 39.5% on those shots. Philadelphia only takes 31.2% of its attempts from beyond the arc this season, but it shoots 37.6% from deep as a team, making the 76ers perfectly capable of exploiting Milwaukee from deep.