Welcome to the dance, New York Knicks fans. After seven straight losing seasons, the New York Knicks are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2013. While they’re still battling for position in the standings, they’ve already clinched one of the top six spots in the Eastern Conference, thereby avoiding the play-in tournament and guaranteeing themselves some rest before the playoffs start next weekend. If you’re still looking to make an NBA playoffs bet before then, the Knicks are worth examining as a 2021 NBA playoffs sleeper pick.
2021 NBA Playoffs Sleeper Team Bet: New York Knicks
Defense Wins Championships
It’s been a long, painful road back to the postseason for the Knicks, but they’ve finally managed to turn things around under new head coach Tom Thibodeau, who has molded New York into the NBA’s best defensive team virtually overnight. The Knicks were consistently one of the league’s worst defensive squads during their dry spell, but this year they rank third in Defensive Rating and are allowing the fewest points per game.
The Knicks had the 2nd worst odds to make the playoffs at the start of the season (+1400). 🤯 pic.twitter.com/qDZGDn1e6V
— The Game Day Hoops (@TheGameDayHoops) May 13, 2021
Gone are the days of the Knicks burdening themselves with selfish, ego-driven stars. Thibodeau’s Knicks play focused, selfless, efficient basketball on both sides of the court. New York ranks fourth in three-point percentage, and only five teams are averaging fewer turnovers. The Knicks are also one of the league’s better rebounding teams, ranking eighth in boards per game despite playing at the NBA’s slowest pace.
Offensively, New York’s greatest strength is its depth. Seven players have averaged at least 10 points per game this year, making the Knicks difficult to defend. First-time All-Star Julius Randle has emerged as one of the league’s best players, while 20-year-old RJ Barrett has taken a big step forward in his second season. With former MVP Derrick Rose coming off the bench, New York has multiple contributors to lean on.
Knicks 2021 NBA Playoffs: Sleeper Bet Tip
New York Knicks to Win 2021 NBA Eastern Conference (+3500)
While the Knicks may not have the star power of other postseason teams, they can play with just about anyone. Their relentless defense allows them to slow the game down against faster squads, while their three-point shooting and depth make them dangerous in a short series. The Knicks could definitely pull off an upset or two, making them an interesting value pick if you’re considering an NBA playoffs bet.