Skip to content

Expect Knicks to set tone in Game 1

Jesse D. Garrabrant / National Basketball Association / Getty

Find year-round coverage of betting news and insights for all sports by visiting our Betting section and subscribing to push notifications.

We're into the second round after a chaotic Round 1 that featured a single Game 7. Three of the four conference semifinals have yet to begin. With two Monday games, let's get to our three best bets.

Pacers @ Knicks (-6, O/U 217)

The Knicks are better, tougher, and more physical than the Pacers. As I wrote in my preview, I'd be shocked if this is a competitive series.

There are legitimate concerns about the Knicks stars' sustainability as the postseason continues. Jalen Brunson's playing at a superstar level, but he's carrying a larger load for his team than any other remaining playoff participant. He showed few signs of fatigue through a grueling first round, but will that remain the case?

Due to various injuries, the Knicks play a tight seven-man rotation. Coach Tom Thibodeau doesn't trust his bench and plays his starters heavy minutes. Indiana plays fast and likes to score in transition, which is a problem for New York.

But none of that is a concern for Game 1. The Knicks have had three days off since they won their series, enough time to refresh and recharge. They'll establish themselves on the offensive boards early, control the pace, and mercilessly target Tyrese Haliburton's nonexistent defense. A high-scoring affair favors Indiana, but New York's offense can keep up against the Pacers' porous defense.

The Pacers were outscored by 21 in three road games in the opening round. The Knicks will set the tone of this series early with a convincing home win.

Pick: Knicks -6

Josh Hart: Over 12.5 rebounds

The Knicks' greatest advantage over the Pacers is rebounding. New York has the league's best offensive rebounding rate and uses it to generate extra possessions.

If the Knicks consistently control the glass, this series could be over in four games. Like the Sixers, the Pacers are one of the NBA's worst rebounding groups. That ultimately cost Philadelphia the series.

Hart is the NBA's best pound-for-pound rebounder. His athleticism and tenacity allow him to soar and snatch the ball among the trees. Hart's priority will be crashing the glass, and he should find success against a poor rebounding team. He snatched at least 13 rebounds in four of the six games against Philly.

Odds: -112

Jaden McDaniels: Over 8.5 points

McDaniels is a key role player in the Nuggets-Wolves series. The Wolves won Game 1 despite McDaniels scoring zero points and shooting 0-for-7 from the field. Anthony Edwards' heroics were enough for Minnesota to take a series lead.

McDaniels generated clean looks - it just wasn't his day. He's a better shooter at home than on the road, which could have contributed to his struggles, but his scoring average was virtually the same regardless of the venue.

He's averaging 11.4 points in the playoffs and 14.5 points against Denver during the regular season. Saturday's rough offensive showing was an anomaly, and McDaniels will prove that with a bounce-back performance.

Odds: -122

Sam Oshtry is a sports betting writer at theScore. You can follow him on X @soshtry for more betting coverage.

Daily Newsletter

Get the latest trending sports news daily in your inbox