For years now, the New York Knicks’ NBA playoff odds had been bleak.

But a surprisingly solid 2020-21 season brought back that familiar feeling on Broadway. The Knicks were winning, Madison Square Garden was rocking again, and the NBA seemed a little more complete.

That regular season, in which NY finished with a 41-31 record, earned the Knicks a 4-seed in the playoffs that year. The fun was short lived, however, as the Atlanta Hawks eliminated the Knicks 4-1 in the first round.

In 2021-22, the Knicks couldn’t find their footing all season and finished six games out of the final play-in tournament spot at 37-45.

Expectations Not High for NY After Disappointing Offseason

As has been the case in recent years, the Knicks were targeting big-name players but didn’t end up with those players. This year, it was Donovan Mitchell. The Utah guard was a trade target by NY, but he ended up going to Cleveland.

The Knicks settled for Mavericks point guard Jalen Brunson in a free-agent deal. Not many were celebrating that signing, but it has paid off more in recent weeks.

As a result, the NY sportsbooks did not think much of the Knicks’ immediate future in 2022-23.

The Knicks’ NBA playoff odds were at about 2:1. Season-long win total bets had the over-under amount hover at around 38.5 at the major NY sportsbooks.
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Knicks’ Playoff Odds Improving After Turning Things On

In a loaded Eastern Conference, the Knicks played at a level that was expected for the first quarter of the season. Through 23 games, their record was 10-13. That mark also put them right around preseason predictions of 38.5 wins.

Since a 121-100 loss to Dallas on Dec. 3, however, the Knicks have not yet lost. They’ve won five in a row to improve to 15-13 and currently sit in the No. 6 spot in the Eastern Conference. That position is the final spot where a team is guaranteed a trip to the playoffs. In seeds 7-10, teams must compete in the Play-In Tournament, where two teams will advance to the playoffs.

As a result, odds of the Knicks reaching the playoffs have shifted. In addition, the over-under win total at DraftKings is now 40.5.

Here is a look at the Knicks’ updated playoff odds, courtesy of FanDuel.

New York Knicks-105+220

NOTE: When making a bet on an NBA team reaching the playoffs, the Play-In Tournament doesn’t count. A team must advance past that series to the main 16-team tournament to have it count as reaching the playoffs.

What’s Led to the Knicks’ Turnaround and Increased Playoff Odds?

While Julius Randle’s play got the headlines in 2021 and is as of late with several 30-point efforts, the Knicks have gotten back to playing strong defense under head coach Tom Thibodeau.

After ranking in the top five in points allowed two seasons ago, the Knicks ranked just 26th in defensive points per possession.

In the five-game winning streak, they lead the league in that category and have moved their ranking to 12th in just a handful of games. They have done it by shrinking the rotation to nine and leaving out Derrick Rose, Evan Fournier, and Cam Reddish.

Defense rarely goes out of style, and if the Knicks can keep it up, they should be able to compete against teams that are more offensively talented than they are. We feel this explains the jump in playoff odds, and we tend to agree.

Prediction: Knicks Reach Playoffs (-105)

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