San Antonio Spurs at New York Knicks (+2.5, 195)
J.R. Smith makes his season debut when the host New York Knicks attempt to snap the three-game winning streak of the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday. Smith, who won the NBA’s Sixth Man Award last season, sat out the first five games due to violating the league’s drug policy and will be limited to 30 minutes, according to New York coach Mike Woodson. “We’ve just got to make sure that mentally he’s there,” Woodson told reporters. “And I can’t burn him physically.”
Smith, who will come off the bench Sunday, averaged 18.1 points last season and underwent knee surgery in July and is still rounding himself into playing shape. The Spurs recorded a 76-74 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Friday and are allowing just 88 points per game during their winning streak. Tony Parker had 18 points and is averaging 19.3 points and 6.7 assists.
TV: Noon ET, KENS (San Antonio), MSG (New York)
ABOUT THE SPURS (5-1): Veteran guard Manu Ginobili is struggling and is just 8-of-31 from the field while averaging seven points over the past three games. He is just 1-of-13 from 3-point range during the stretch and 5-of-25 on the season while averaging 10.7 points. Frontcourt star Tim Duncan had a subpar game against Golden State with just eight points on 3-of-11 shooting after averaging 19.3 points over the previous three games.
ABOUT THE KNICKS (2-3): Andrea Bargnani made his presence felt with 25 points, eight rebounds and five blocks in Friday’s victory over Charlotte. New York will be counting heavily on Bargnani with starting center Tyson Chandler out four-to-six weeks with a broken leg. Acquired from Toronto in the offseason, Bargnani was struggling before the breakout performance. “Don’t be hesitant and just play my game and go out there and do what I’ve always done all these years,” Bargnani explained afterward. “I got to be more aggressive on offense.”
* Home team is 4-1-1 ATS in the last six meetings.
* Over is 5-2 in the last seven meetings in New York.
* Spurs are 1-4 ATS in their last five games overall.
* Underdog is 3-1-1 ATS in the last five meetings.
1. New York won both of last season’s meetings and is 26-14 against the Spurs at Madison Square Garden.
2. The Knicks are trying to avoid losing three straight home games for the first time since Jan. 2012.
3. Spurs F Matt Bonner (calf) could miss his third straight game.