It’s been a very long time since it was even worth mentioning the New York Knicks from a betting perspective, but they might be the hottest bet in the NBA for the 2020-21 season, especially in the first half.
The Knicks have now covered their first-half ATS spread in 13 straight games and own the best first-half spread record in the league at 25-9-1 ATS. Both of those marks are bordering on historic for NBA bettors and it’s time to show the Knickerbockers some love for the improvement.
Let’s break down this run, how we got here, where it ranks all-time and how to bet the Knicks’ remaining games going into the NBA all-star break.
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In the meantime, if you want to check out every NBA team’s first-quarter and first-half spread betting records, Joe Osborne has got you covered with his betting report to help you analyze and process ways to get in on this popular betting market.
How Did We Get Here With The Knicks?
If you start anywhere with the Knicks and how they became the darlings of the betting community, you don’t begin with the hiring of head coach Tom Thibodeau but instead go back to the 2014-15 season. That’s when the Knicks really started to tank and free-fall into the NBA basement, finishing 17-65 in 82 games. Over six seasons starting with that dismal 2014-15 campaign, they went a combined 147-329 SU for a .309 winning percentage, the worst in the NBA in that span.
I bring that up because expectations for the Knicks this season were lower than whale crap on the bottom of the ocean. Fans, analysts and, most importantly, oddsmakers didn’t peg them as a team that could win games or even keep them close. Enter Tom Thibodeau.
Obviously when you think of Thibodeau, the first thing you think of is defensive genius and you wouldn’t be wrong. At nearly every stop in his career, teams improved in that facet during his tenure. Now we’re seeing it this season as the Knicks neutralize opposing offenses and keep games close enough to potentially steal a win outright as an underdog or at least cover the spread.
Just look at the year-over-year improvement on defense for the Knicks. In 2020, they ranked 18th in the NBA in scoring defense at 112.3 points allowed per game. In 2021, they rank first, lowering that figure to 104.9 per game. They also rank first this year in opponent field-goal percentage (43.2) and opponent three-point percentage (32.5).
Thibodeau’s impact on the Knicks goes much deeper than those on-the-surface stats but it’s pretty clear that the new head coach is the key reason why New York has far exceeded expectations.
Knicks 1st Half Profits and History
Let’s get into the meat of the story because this run the Knicks have been on is historic. Start with the 13 straight ATS wins on first-half spreads. This streak started on February 3 vs the Bulls and was punctuated by their most recent win vs Detroit on February 28. They’ve got two games remaining before the all-star break, vs the Spurs and Pistons.
To put that first-half spread streak into context, it’s tied for the second-longest first-half ATS win streak of all time in Odds Shark’s NBA betting database. It matches the Philadelphia 76ers’ first-half ATS win streak from December 30, 2017, to January 29, 2018. While the Sixers fell short of the all-time record, the Knicks still have an opportunity to exceed it, although it may require a miracle to do so.
That’s because the all-time record is 18 straight first-half ATS wins by the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs were still in dynasty form during this run that lasted from March 8, 2015, to April 8, 2015.
Even the Knicks’ overall first-half ATS record this season is close to making history. At 25-9-1 ATS, that record is tied for the second-best through the first 35 games to start a season. The 2013-14 Phoenix Suns also started the season 25-9-1 ATS for first-half spreads. The all-time record holder through 35 games is the 2016-17 Houston Rockets, who started 26-9 ATS.
Profits, Profits, Profits
As always, most sports bettors love hindsight, and to reflect on what could’ve been. When a team like the Knicks goes on a heater like this, it’s nice to know the context.
Let’s start with overall profits for the Knicks’ first-half ATS run:
|New York Knicks||1H ATS Record||1H ATS Profit|
The underdog strikes again! That means in 35 games this season, the Knicks were an underdog for the first-half ATS spread in 25 of them. The fact that you could’ve blindly bet $100 on every Knicks’ first-half spread and be up $1,372.75 is outstanding for bettors like myself trying to identify key angles.
As for the 13-game win streak, skip past this part if you get queasy about missing out on insane opportunities. If you had started betting on Knicks’ first-half spreads on February 3 with $100 and bet on each of the wins while rolling over all winnings, you would now have $447,479.16 in profit.
How To Bet Knicks 1st Halves Going Forward
Like most trends, whether it be Brooklyn Nets OVERs or NBA Underdogs, the Knicks’ first-half ATS trend could come to a crashing halt or continue succeeding in spite of oddsmakers stacking the deck.
The Knicks have 13 games to play in March and looking at their schedule, they’ll likely be underdogs in at least seven of those games, barring injuries. Clearly, the Knicks don’t have as much talent as some of their opponents and the fact they’re 13-4-1 ATS on the road in first halves along with 17-7-1 ATS as underdogs, the spot to grab them is when they’re road underdogs to get the best value.
Games in San Antonio, Milwaukee (twice), Brooklyn and Philadelphia could be great spots to bet them if you are getting points to cushion your bet. Especially Tuesday vs a team like the Spurs, who are coming off a tough loss to the Nets at home Monday, playing in the second game of a back-to-back and 6-10 ATS at home for first halves in 16 games this season. The Knicks are currently +1.5 underdogs to win the first half. You know what to do.