The New York Knicks may be the NBA’s biggest enigma, but one thing is for certain: Big Apple basketball is rotten to the core.
A season born with high hopes has transformed into a nightmare campaign, in which egos and injuries have gotten in the way of winning.
That finally came to a head with the resignation of coach Mike D’Antoni Wednesday, sparked by Carmelo Anthony’s hollow trade request.
New York, which is mired in a six-game losing skid (1-5 ATS), hosts the Portland Trail Blazers as a 5.5-point favorite Wednesday. The Knicks have two wins in their last 10 outings, managing to cover the spread just three times in that span. Those performances currently have New York in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, just outside of the playoff picture.
It’s been a roller-coaster year for NYC basketball bettors, with injuries mixing up the rotation on a nightly basis, the distractions of “Linsanity”, and the recent reports that the Knicks had all but quit on D’Antoni during this current slide. That’s kept books busy adjusting the NBA title futures all season.
Cantor Gaming in Nevada opened New York at 30-1 to win the NBA championship and was as low at 15-1 during Jeremy Lin’s breakout in mid-February. The Knicks limp into Wednesday at 40-1 win the NBA title, but they have just a 40 percent chance of just making the playoffs according to John Hollinger's playoff predictor
“We took some bets (at 15-1) and they were doing quite well,” says Mike Colbert, sportsbook director for Cantor Gaming. “But Carmelo’s return was supposed to make them better and it totally backfired. They don’t have the right chemistry. It just doesn’t look like Melo and (Amar'e) Stoudemire are supposed to play together. Then you put Lin in there and it turns out to be an uncomfortable situation.”
Defense has suffered the most with the Knicks giving up on their head coach. New York has allowed an average of 109.5 points during its six-game losing streak, playing over the total in five of those contests despite the number climbing as high as 206.5 points.
That stumble started with a disappointing overtime loss to the Boston Celtics on March 1 and hit the tipping point in a 104-99 defeat to the Chicago Bulls Monday. The Knicks battled back and forth with the best team in the NBA, and even had a chance to tie the game in the dying seconds but missed three straight looks at the basket.
Assistant Mike Woodson will take over head coaching duties, leaving the door open for a big name to grab the reins this offseason. Many fingers are pointing to former Knicks player Phil Jackson, who has won 11 NBA titles as coach of the Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers.
But until the Zen Master is prowling the sidelines of Madison Square Garden, NBA bettors should consider New York a rotten bet - all the way to the core.