The New York Knicks are playing on another level at the moment, and they will look to continue their impressive stretch as they play host to the Charlotte Hornets. We’ll preview the game before going over why I’m targeting a first-half bet in this one.
The Charlotte Hornets' season was already considered a disappointment, but after losing LaMelo Ball for the rest of the year, the struggles will likely only continue. Charlotte won their first three games back from the All-Star break, but since Ball went down with his injury, they have now lost three straight games. Across this recent six-game span, the Hornets' NET rating of -3.1 ranks 20th in the league.
Charlotte did not have a high-powered offense, to begin with, but over this three-game losing streak, the most points they have scored in a game is 106. As a result, even factoring in their first three wins following their return, the Hornets' offensive rating of 102.8 is the second worst in the league.
On the season, these two teams have played each other twice, and the Knicks have come away with a victory in both of them. In the most recent meeting in December, the Knicks secured the road win by scoring 121 points on 44% shooting from the field, with Jalen Brunson only scoring 11 points.
The scary part for the Hornets is that Knicks' offense has only improved since that last meeting. In their six games following the break, the Knicks are 6-0 and have the best NET rating in the league. Offensively, their 122.7 offensive rating is ranked 6th, with the lowest amount of points they’ve scored in that span being 109.
New York will be back at the Garden tonight after a massive overtime road win over the Boston Celtics. The Knicks shot 49% from the field, and Immanuel Quickley led the way with 38 points. It’s worth noting that this win streak isn’t just built on offense, as the Knicks also rank 7th in defensive efficiency rating post-All-Star break.
For my play in this one, I’ll be targeting the Knicks' first-half spread of (-6). New York has been the most profitable first-half ATS team in the NBA this season, and their hot starts have continued into the back half of the season. In their last five games, New York is 4-1 ATS in the first half, and since the break, New York has the highest first-half NET rating in the league at 21.7.
First-half success is something that Charlotte has not seen a lot of this season, as they are the least profitable first-half ATS team in the league. Since their return to action, the Hornets are 25th in 1H NET rating, and in their most recent loss to the Brooklyn Nets, they went into halftime, losing by 29 points.
In their six games back, the Knicks have the best 1H field goal percentage and three-point percentage in the league, while Charlotte is ranked 25th and 24th in those respective categories. Between the first-half shooting numbers and both teams entering tonight with their momentum going in opposite directions, I think the Knicks will continue to be a profitable first-half team.
New York Knicks 1H (-6)