Phoenix Suns vs. New York Knicks Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Phoenix Suns (14-3 SU, 12-5 ATS) vs. New York Knicks (3-14 SU, 7-10 ATS), 7:30 p.m. EST, Tuesday, December 1, 2009, Madison Square Garden, New York, N.Y.
by Ryno of

Point Spread: Suns -7/Knicks +7
Over/Under: 225.5

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Two opposites face each other at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night, as the 3-14 New York Knicks host the 14-3 Phoenix Suns.

The Knicks may have a miserable 3-14 record, but they are in the midst of a brutal schedule. After earning consecutive wins over the Pacers and Nets, they came home and lost in overtime by two points to the Celtics on a buzzer-beater by Kevin Garnett. Then, they played well in Los Angeles but lost by 10 to the Lakers. After a loss to the Kings, the Knicks lost by just three points to the Nuggets before losing by 12 at home to the Magic on Sunday. After facing the Suns, they will have to play at the Magic and the Hawks.

The Knicks have been led by the steady frontcourt duo of Al Harrington and David Lee. Harrington comes off the bench and leads the team in scoring with 19.6 points per game and has 6.2 rebounds per game. Lee has been of the better big men in the league this season with 18.2 points and 10 rebounds per game. Danilo Gallinari’s emergence as a very good player has been a key for the Knicks. He is scoring 13.1 points per game. Nate Robinson, Wilson Chandler and Larry Hughes are all averaging just short of 12 points per game. Offense hasn’t been the problem at all for the Knicks. The Knicks are averaging over 100 points per game. But their defense has been the problem. If they could play some defense, they might be able to win some games. But they rank 28th in points against, 28th in field goal percentage allowed and 30th in rebounds allowed.

The Suns play just like the Knicks do, but in a much better version. Mike D’Antoni, the current Knicks coach, used to coach the Suns. He has his Knicks getting up and down the court quickly and scoring as many points as possible, a similar style to the current Suns. Steve Nash is looking as good as ever this season. Nash is averaging 16.4 points and 12.1 assists per game. He is shooting 53.1 percent from the field, 44.3 percent from 3-point range and 93.9 percent from the free throw line. Amar’e Stoudemire isn’t too shabby either this year, averaging 19.8 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. Jason Richardson has been very valuable, scoring 17.7 points per game and shooting 46.5 percent from 3-point land. Channing Frye has been the biggest surprise. He is scoring 12.8 points and grabbing 5.8 rebounds per game. Frye was never even remotely a 3-point shooter in his career before this season, but now all of a sudden he is shooting 46.9 percent from beyond the arc and has made 46 3-pointers in 17 games. At 37 years old, Grant Hill is still a very viable player, averaging 12.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per game this season.

The Suns are on a four-game winning streak right now, having recently defeated the Pistons, Grizzlies, Timberwolves and Raptors, each by at least 15 points. Their three losses this season are to the Hornets, Lakers and Magic.

Both of these teams can put up a lot of points and don’t really play a lot of defense. They both just want to outscore their opponents. The Suns just happen to be better than the Knicks on offense and on defense. The team that will win this game will be the team that can play better transition defense and force the other team to run half-court sets. The Suns have a lot of weapons that can shoot 3-pointers. Nash, Richardson and Frye are only a few of the options they have that can light it up. The Knicks have to get a hand up on every jump shot. But the Suns are going to hit some 3-pointers no matter what. The Knicks have to help when Nash penetrates and gets past his defender. Lee, Harrington and Gallinari have to prevent him from getting to the rim and stop Stoudemire, Frye and Hill from getting easy baskets off Nash’s passes.

The Knicks have lost their last five home games. The Knicks are 1-5 SU in their last five games against Phoenix, but they are 4-1 ATS the last five times these two teams have met. The Suns are 6-2 SU in their last eight road games.

Ryno’s Pick: The Suns are clearly a much better team than the Knicks, but the game is in New York and anything can happen in the NBA. The Knicks have been playing well lately against elite teams like the Celtics and the Lakers. They will be able to score a lot of points in this game, so if they can simply outshoot the Suns and play solid defense, they can steal a win. One thing is for sure, and that is that it will be a very high-scoring game. The total is a high number but the combined points will be higher. Take the over of 225.5.