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NBA expert Jonathan Macri is here with his prediction and picks for the Thursday night matchups between the Indiana Pacers vs. Detroit Pistons and Rockets vs. Knicks.

Indiana Pacers vs. Detroit Pistons Prediction: Trust the Pacers

When: Thursday, December 16, 7:00 p.m. ET

Where to Watch: NBA League Pass

Spread: Pacers -10

Total: 210

Click Here For Pacers vs Pistons Odds

Pacers vs. Pistons Prediction

In an NBA season that figured to have a few teams funning for next year’s number one overall pick from the opening game, the Pistons have established themselves as the team to beat.

Or the team to be beaten, as it were.

Detroit has now lost 12 games in a row, within shouting distance of Houston’s season-high losing streak, which they snapped late last month. They own the league’s worst record, with just four wins against 22 losses, and other than Orlando (5-22), they have half as many wins as every other team.

All that being said, this probably paints the Pistons in a worse light than they deserve. Even with no wins in their last dozen games, they still have a better net rating over that time than two other teams. Against the spread on the year, they’re also far more middle of the pack than the bottom of the barrel, going 12-14 overall and 6-7 on the road. Over the last few weeks, they’ve taken the Wizards to overtime, had two single-digit losses to the Lakers, and dropped a game in Phoenix by just 11.

Here’s where we need one more caveat, though: Jerami Grant was available for Detroit’s first 24 games before being sidelined five days ago with a thumb injury that will keep him out for six weeks. He’s now missed the last two games, resulting in a 16-point road loss to the lowly Pelicans and a 12-point home loss to a Nets team missing James Harden.

On the year, the Pistons have actually been better without Jerami Grant on the court, but given how much their starting lineup has been outmatched and how many times opponents have gotten out to big leads, there’s some noise in those numbers. Indiana, meanwhile, has underperformed their net rating more than any team in the league, going just 12-18 despite a positive 0.9 net rating.

The Pacers are playing on the second night of a back to back after losing last night in Milwaukee, but they’re 9-6-1 at home against the spread this season and have looked better of late after the recent news that their front office may look to sell off parts at or before the deadline.

You’d like this line to be single digits, but it’s close enough to feel good about the home team, especially with Detroit missing its top guy.

Pacers vs. Pistons Pick

Houston Rockets vs. New York Knicks Prediction

When: 8:00 p.m. ET

Where to Watch: NBA League Pass/MSG Network

Rockets vs. Knicks Odds

Is this rock bottom for the Knicks?

Last year’s surprise story of the NBA spent the summer making upgrades at their supposed weak spots, getting more creation and shooting into the rotation in the form of Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier. Finally, after a 5-1 start, it looked like things were going according to plan. So much for that.

Since that hot start, the Knicks have gone 7-15 and have a net rating in the bottom fifth of the league – worse, in fact, than the tanking Rockets over that time frame, at least if you checked the standings after Tuesday’s loss to the Warriors.

Since then, Houston got shellacked at the hands of the red-hot Cavs in a game that served as a reminder that the Rockets are who we thought they were. Granted, four starters were out, with Christian Wood, Eric Gordon, and Kevin Porter Jr joining rookie Jaylen Green on the sidelines. However, the status of everyone but Green is up in the air for tonight as of late morning today, complicating matters where this game is concerned.

Not that the Knicks will have much sympathy. Aside from their recent struggles, RJ Barrett, Obi Toppin, Quentin Grimes, and Kevin Knox are all sidelined in health and safety protocols. That means they’ll likely be down to an eight-man rotation without a true backup power forward behind Julius Randle and with Derrick Rose starting to show signs of wearing down amidst heavy minute loads.

Even with their issues (1-7 in their last eight games), there may be no team in the league more desperate for a win than the Knicks. It is now or never, at least where making a run at the play-in is concerned. They have a relatively easy stretch of games over the next five weeks, to the point that they can get back to .500 if they play anywhere close to the level we got used to last season.

It is do or die, and the bet here is that New York – road warriors for most of the season, with a 7-6 record against the spread away from MSG – lives up to the task. So give the points on the road.

Rockets vs. Knicks Pick

Article Author


Dean of Knicks Film School, host: KFS Pod, co-host: Pick N Pod. There isn't much about Knicks basketball that Jonathan doesn't know and he's here to break down the big games each and every week.


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