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Tipico One-Play Payday (April 2)

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The NBA season roars on, as we’ve reached the third mega-slate of the week with 10 total NBA games on tap for Friday, after an 11-game slate Monday and another 10-gamer Wednesday. Friday’s, however, present us with an even more exciting opportunity at FTN Bets and Tipico.

If you aren’t familiar, every Friday, we will bring you the One-Play Payday on Tipico Sportsbook: one play — a spread, total, or moneyline — that stands out as a rock-solid play for the Friday NBA slate, to help sweeten what’s already one of the best days of the week.

Friday’s one-play payday is the New York Knicks +5.5 at home against the Dallas Mavericks. While the Mavericks certainly have the star power that casual fans and bettors will be attracted to in this matchup, the Knicks have quietly been one of the toughest opponents in all of basketball.

On the season, the Knicks rank fourth in the entire NBA in defensive efficiency (106.4) behind only the Lakers, Sixers and Jazz. The top three are expected names, but the Knicks being just a hair behind them is telling. They’ve done this by running a slow, defensive-minded pace (dead last in pace in the league) while fully embracing the Tom Thibodeau style of basketball. This has led them to allow only 104.5 points per game (lowest mark in the entire NBA), the lowest three-point percentage in the NBA (33.6%), and the lowest field-goal percentage (44.2%) in the NBA. Facing off against a pair of superstars can instill fear, regardless of what the season-long metrics say, and understandably so. That being said, the Knicks also rank 10th in the NBA against superstar-caliber players (per FTN’s advanced defense vs. position tool), the key archetype for Luka Doncic.

They’ve also been a top-five team against the spread in the NBA, sporting a 27-20-1 record (57.5%), good for the fifth-best mark in the league. Not only is this one of the best records ATS in the NBA, but they’ve been the best team in terms of average margin of covering against the spread at +2.9.

While their defense has done more than enough to keep them in a game and even win games, their offense is in a favorable spot as well, only adding to the confidence in backing them at +5.5. The Mavericks’ defense has been impressive this season, but against skilled centers, they’ve struggled mightily (25th, per FTN’s advanced DvP tool). This caters to the strength of the lifeblood of the Knicks’ offense, Julius Randle. Given the fact that he averages 83.3 touches per game (more than Stephen Curry, for reference), he should have a field day against an interior that’s allowing a 64.4% field-goal percentage in the restricted area. This also bodes well for their number-two option on offense, RJ Barrett, who’s averaging 13 drives per game (more than Giannis Antetokounmpo).

Their offense is trustworthy enough behind these two players capable of exploiting the soft spots in this Dallas defense, but at the end of the day, they say defense wins championships. What’s more important (at least, to us right now) is that defenses cover spreads, and that’s exactly what I expect the Knicks to do on Friday.

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