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10x All-Star and former MVP James Harden is expected to make his debut with the Los Angeles Clippers at Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks on Monday evening.
Harden, who was traded from the Philadelphia 76ers for picks and a haul of rotational players, is yet to appear this season. When last seen a year ago, he averaged 21 points and 10.7 assists and put together two 40-point games in a still-disappointing second-round playoff exit.
Here, we’ll go over the betting odds and share our thoughts on Monday’s Clippers vs. Knicks matchup.
The Clippers (3-2) are slight favorites on the road against the Knicks (2-4). They faced one another twice last season, including one overtime battle, and the Clippers came out on top both times.
|Los Angeles Clippers||-1.5 (-110)||-120||Over 226.5 (-110)|
|New York Knicks||+1.5 (-110)||+100||Under 226.5 (-110)|
All eyes will be on Harden in his expected debut with his fourth team since 2021. Despite being a lesser version of his MVP self and questions being raised over his conditioning and commitment to winning, he will offer playmaking and ball distribution that Kawhi Leonard (23 points, 6.2 rebounds) and Paul George (28.8 points, 4.8 rebounds) have not seen during their tenures in LA.
Harden, the league leader in assists a year ago, is already used to playing next to two score-first players thanks to his time with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn. He was also second-fiddle to Joel Embiid the last two seasons and will have an idea of how to set the table for his new teammates.
That said, reports suggest the Clippers want Harden to spend more time off the ball than he has in years past to allow Russell Westbrook the freedom of the ball and decision-making. That could prove to be a dangerous game since Harden has not been off the ball since becoming a superstar and Westbrook is second in turnovers per 36 minutes.
Even without Harden, the Clippers reached second in team shooting percentage, fourth in offensive rating, and fifth in defensive rating. The trade actually jeopardizes what they already had in place, especially since it stripped them of their depth.
On the other side, the Knicks are perfectly fulfilling the Tom Thibodeau image. They’re 29th in offensive rating but third in defensive rating and hold opponents to the second-fewest points per game.
Julius Randle is in the middle of one of the worst starts to a season in NBA history. Despite taking 16 shots per game, he’s scoring only 13.7 points per night and is shooting 27.1% from the field, 22.5% from three, and 61.8% at the line.
Jalen Brunson (24.7 points, 4.3 assists per game) and RJ Barrett (21 points, 3.0 rebounds) have both done their part to carry the scoring burden but need more help from their All-Star teammate.
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While the Clippers’ decision to sacrifice their depth to bring in an aging superstar they may not have needed is questionable from a long-term perspective, it shouldn’t matter on Monday night. George and Leonard are both off to hot starts shooting the ball and will either get more open looks or free up Harden for easy looks from range.
The Knicks’ defense is excellent but out of necessity. Their low-powered offense leaves such a small margin for error that they can’t afford to be average on the other side of the court, especially with Randle’s scoring woes.
A situation to monitor will be Westbrook’s minutes and fit with another ball-dominant player on the team. Regardless, we like the Clippers in this one and in a blowout, one that probably goes over because of LA’s offensive output.
Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself on delivering breaking news and insightful analyses of the industry. Grant graduated from Virginia Tech in 2021 and is feverishly pursuing his ambitions in the sports betting field.
In his free time, Grant can be found passionately watching sports, doing a workout, or searching for adventure with his friends.More info on Grant Mitchell
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