The New York Knicks have been one of the NBA's biggest surprises this season. They've remained in the playoff hunt all year thanks to a stifling defense installed by first-year head coach Tom Thibodeau. An All-Star campaign from Julius Randle has also given the Knicks the No. 1 option on offense they needed.
Yet confidence waned about the team making the playoffs two weeks ago when they dropped below .500. They were favored to miss the playoffs with -130 odds on WynnBET compared to +105 to make the postseason at that time. Now those odds have swung in the other direction. Massively.
New York is currently -525 to make the playoffs and has +275 odds to miss the postseason. Having to risk $525 just to win $100 represents a massive shift in confidence in the Knicks to make the playoffs.
The Knicks have won six straight games and currently stand as the 6-seed in the East. That standing is huge for their playoff hopes because of the play-in tournament the league adopted for this season.
The Nos. 7-10 seeds in each conference will fight for the last two playoff spots. Nothing is guaranteed for the No. 7 or 8 seed. Avoiding that tournament, where one off game could cost you a playoff berth, is crucial.
The Knicks can avoid a play-in scenario if they keep up their recent play. They've stifled opponents all season by surrendering the fewest points per game (104.5) in the league along with the second-lowest true shooting percentage (108.5%). New York has also been a force on the boards by averaging the fifth-highest mark as a team (53.8).
The Knicks host the Hornets tonight and are -240 favorites to win outright and -5.5 favorites against the spread. That means if you think the Knicks will win by six or more points you would pick them. Or if you think the winning margin will be under 6 points you take the Hornets. The payout is -115 for the Knicks, meaning if you bet $11.50 and they win by 6 or more you win $10.