Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#569 New Orleans Pelicans vs.
#570 New York Knicks
Sunday, April 18, 2021 at 1:05pm EDT
Madison Square Garden, New York
Written by Jordy

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The New Orleans Pelicans will try their hand at knocking off the surging New York Knicks in an early inter-conference tilt on Sunday afternoon. It’ll be their second crack at the Knicks within the week after getting ramrodded in a 116-106 loss in New Orleans on Wednesday. They have since gone on to drop a loss in overtime to the Washington Wizards. Meanwhile, the Knicks have won their last five straight games, including an impressive 117-109 road win over the Dallas Mavericks.

Stopping the 3-point storm

You’ll know the Knicks won again if there isn’t a rainbow over the Pelicans’ bench area by the end of the game.

The first order of business for New Orleans should be stopping the 3-point storm that washed them out in the first meeting between the two teams on Wednesday. They gave up 17 3-pointers at a 51.5 percent clip on their home floor. Good luck winning any game at this level when giving up shots like that.

For all of the offensive issues for the Knicks, they have consistently been a higher-percentage shooting team from beyond the arc. If you play with fire and leave guys on the perimeter, there’s a good chance you’ll get burned. The Pelicans have to do a better job of contesting those shots and limiting those opportunities.

They also need to limit the boneheaded turnovers we saw from them in Friday’s overtime loss to the Wizards. There’s no need in helping the Knicks rack up possessions and turn the pace of the game into a turtle race.

Zion Williamson will have his hands full down low against New York’s Julius Randle. It was a fun battle the first time out that ended with Randle winning. We’ll see if Williamson has the taste for payback on his tongue on Sunday. The Pelicans are one of the best pure scoring teams in the league, but they’ll be on a collision course with the No.1-ranked scoring defense in this one.

Knicks continue to pile up wins

It doesn’t matter that the rest of the league isn’t taking the Knicks seriously. They’ve consistently kept their head down and gone to work in the shadows.

But a monster is emerging—slowly but surely.

There is no greater dark horse than a team that plays defense like the Knicks, who are now on a five-game winning streak. They crashed the party for the Pelicans in the first meeting on Wednesday before spoiling a home game for the Dallas Mavericks on Friday.

And yet, the scariest part about those games was the fact that New York played well offensively. The same team that has sat near the bottom of the scoring board throughout the season finally showed an offensive heartbeat. Whew, scarrrry.

That offensive love vessel in their chest should continue pounding in Sunday’s meeting against a Pelicans team with the second-worst perimeter defense. They’re the fourth-worst defense all-around, period. So the Knicks will have a shot at another 3-point washout.

Alec Burks was one of the unsung heroes from that first game, but he’ll be out for the rematch after being placed in the COVID-19 health and safety protocol. It’s definitely something to keep in mind ahead of this matchup.

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The atmosphere in this game has the ingredients for another offensive storm from the Knicks. New Orleans is allowing a league-worst average 40.8 percent shooting from 3-pointer on the road this season.

You might want to bring an umbrella and a poncho for this game.

The Knicks are gaining confidence offensively, and it’s starting to show on the court against other talented offensive teams. Not even Luka Doncic and the Mavericks could overcome the relentless offensive assault from the Knicks in a game where Julius Randle dumped 44 points on their head. The burgeoning star forward was already coming off a 32-point performance against the Pelicans.

He’s becoming a problem in the league and adding another dimension to the defensive-minded Knicks. Imagine how dangerous the team could be if they start challenging on the offensive end of the floor. The Pelicans don’t have to imagine considering how they saw it firsthand on Wednesday. They failed to stop the Knicks in New Orleans, and they’ll fail again at Madison Square Garden on Sunday.

I’m laying the points and sticking with the Knicks.

Prediction: New York Knicks (-2.5)

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The Knicks are finally showing some offensive life on the floor after spending the brunt of the season hanging out in the basement in shooting efficiency. They are averaging 47.8 percent shooting in their last three outings and an average 114.7 points per game. It’s a night and day comparison to the team most saw as a one-dimensional group that could only play defense. The thing to keep in mind is the Knicks are a young basketball team constantly improving. They’ll continue to show those strides on Sunday against the Pelicans’ struggling defense. Give me the over in this one.

Prediction: Over (219.5)
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Written By Jordy McElroy , "Jordy"

Born in Germany and raised in the beautiful state of Tennessee, Jordy McElroy is a storyteller of sports, a sports betting enthusiast, and a semi-deep thinker. Being a New England Patriots fan means he's a six-time Super Bowl winner as well, which means you'd have to be a fool to ignore his advice. Prior to joining our team here at Winners & Whiners, Jordy’s work appeared on CNN.com, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report, USA TODAY, and BJPenn.com. There are no beaches where he comes from -- just rolling hills, green valleys, and all the Sun Drop you can drink.