NBA Predictions and Best Bets: New York Knicks vs. New Orleans Pelicans and More
Phoenix Suns vs Cleveland Cavaliers
When: October 30, 2021
Where To Watch: Bally Sports
Spread: Suns -1
Phoenix Suns vs Cleveland Cavaliers Predictions
It’s still a little early to get too worked up over any team that’s gotten off to a slow start. While the first week of games may seem like the be all, end all, an NBA season is 82 games long. It won’t be until next weekend that most teams have played even 10 percent of their schedule.
So no, the Suns’ 1-3 start, coming off an improbable run to the Finals, isn’t reason to doubt their long term prospects…yet.
The part that is concerning, however, and which may be an indication of deeper issues is the early season start for Chris Paul. The Point God is playing slightly under 30 minutes per game, which for him would be a career low. In that time he’s averaging his customary double digit assists, but only a dozen points on just under 40 percent shooting overall and 30 percent from deep on fewer than three attempts per game.
Worse yet, In Paul’s 118 minutes, the Suns have been outscored by a whopping 56 points, which is the fifth worst mark in the NBA. Again, it’s early, and this stat doesn’t indicate that Paul is done as a difference making player (see: Luca Doncic, who is fourth worst at minus 59 in 169 minutes). It may be a sign though that the Suns’ engine is going to take a while to get going after a deep playoff run and a somewhat abbreviated offseason.
Part of the issue here is that Paul’s normal backup (Cam Payne, who was quite good for Phoenix last season and is their best player this season where plus/minus is concerned) is still out with a hamstring injury. Throw in Dario Saric (torn ACL) and Torrey Craig (signed in Indiana) and that’s three rotation pieces from last year’s team that are gone. Payne’s fill in, Elfrid Payton, has brought down what has otherwise been an effective bench unit.
Phoenix’s opponent for this game has been something of a get well team in years’ past, but these aren’t your older brother’s Cavs. Yes, Cleveland is coming off a loss to the Lakers in LA last night, but it was a game they led by nine midway through the third, falling only due to a 3-point barrage courtesy of Carmelo Anthony. It was a classic example of a young team not knowing how to close, but with each loss comes more experience. Even after this game, the Cavs have the fourth best margin against the spread in the league, and on their only other back to back this season, the young Cavs beat a solid Hawks team outright.
The Suns may wind up taking this one and getting back on a winning track, but a nearly double-digit spread doesn’t show the Cavs the respect they’ve earned. Take the points on the road.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs Phoenix Suns Pick
Cavaliers +10 (-106)
New York Knicks vs New Orleans Pelicans
When: October 30, 2021
Where To Watch: MSG
Spread: Knicks -6
New York Knicks vs New Orleans Pelicans Predictions
Another year, another Tom Thibodeau team outpacing expectations.
Coming into the season, most observers didn’t have the Knicks in the six-team Eastern Conference playoff field. That’s fine…any motivation is welcome for the reigning NBA coach of the year.
New York is 4-1 on the court and against the spread, and sits atop the East after a closer-than-it-should-have-been win over the previously unbeaten Bulls. They are doing it despite a sluggish start from Julius Randle (40 percent shooting overall; 30 percent from deep) and a defense that is just league-average thanks to the fourth ranked offense in the NBA. Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier have been exactly what the team has needed, and the Knicks are the only team in the NBA in the top-five in both threes attempted and conversion rate.
Now, they go into New Orleans to face a Pelicans team that is only 1-5 but has somewhat righted the ship after a brutal 0-2 start in which they were blown out each time. The Zion-less bunch covered three straight after that before barely missing their margin against the Kings last night (a four-point loss as a 1.5-point dog).
They’ll get a little more leeway here against the Knicks, but New York isn’t the team you want to face on the second half of a back to back. Save for an uncharacteristic dud against the Magic at home last Sunday, the Knicks have brought their trademark energy on defense all season long. That doesn’t bode well for a 24th-ranked Pelicans offense, especially with early All-Defense candidate RJ Barrett ready, willing and able to shadow fellow Blue Devil Brandon Ingram.
There’s a concern here for a backdoor cover, especially after New York’s failure to close out both Boston and Chicago in somewhat dramatic fashion already this season, but the Pelicans aren’t on the level of either of those teams, not without Zion Williamson at least.
The Knicks are indeed back, and this game will be their latest opportunity to prove it. The Pelicans’ season from hell continues. Give the points on the road.
New York Knicks vs New Orleans Pelicans Pick
Knicks -6 (-105)