As we approach the final month of the NBA regular season it's a good time to take stock of teams that are on the rise and those on their way down in this week's edition of NBA Stock Rising and Falling.
Don't look now but the T'Wolves have won six straight games both SU and ATS, scoring 124 or more points in all six of those contests. Sure, they've benefited from a favorable schedule recently but it doesn't get that much tougher until March 19th, when the Wolves begin a stretch that will see them face the Mavericks (twice), Suns, Celtics, Raptors and Nuggets in succession. For now, Minnesota will aim to keep rolling with a trip that includes stops in Orlando, Miami and San Antonio before a home date with the reeling Lakers. While I wasn't necessarily a buyer earlier in the season, I do think Minnesota can continue to make some noise down the stretch, provided it can get a little healthier. One thing's for sure, the T'Wolves are unlikely to fit the bill as a 'public darling' anytime soon and that's a good thing for their backers.
New York Knicks
Proving just how quickly things can improve, the Knicks find themselves in the 'stock rising' category after previously residing at the complete opposite end of the spectrum. It took a while, but it seems like the Knicks have finally figured out that it's their defense that needs to fuel their offense. They enter Friday's matchup with the Grizzlies in Memphis after holding seven straight opponents to fewer than 89 field goal attempts, limiting four of those opponents to 83 or less. You would have to go back eight games to find the last time New York allowed an opponent to knock down 40 or more field goals. After wrapping up their long road trip with stops in Memphis and Brooklyn, the Knicks will return home for a four-game homestand beginning next Wednesday against Portland.
New Orleans Pelicans
After a brief surge, the Pelicans have gone back in the tank with consecutive losses against Denver, Memphis and Orlando. Worst of all, they'll be without Brandon Ingram, who had been making big strides forward this season, for multiple weeks due to injury. The depth simply isn't there for New Orleans to withstand such a blow. It does get its next three games at home but it's still a difficult stretch considering it will have played eight games in 14 nights by the time the homestand wraps up. Riding what I would consider an unsustainable streak of 11 consecutive games scoring more than 100 points, I will be looking for opportunities to play the 'under' in upcoming Pelicans games, noting that they have been doing a good job of limiting opponents scoring opportunities in recent weeks.
Sitting 20 games under .500 in 13th-place in the Western Conference, the Kings have nothing but pride and contracts to play for down the stretch. They head into Saturday's game in Utah riding a three-game losing streak, having won just twice going back to Valentine's Day. Even their once-explosive offense has gone cold lately, scoring 95, 115, 113, 115 and 100 points over their last five games. Frustrations boiled over earlier this week with pre-trade deadline acquisition Domantas Sabonis striking an official and earning a one-game suspension. While Sacramento will get four of its next five games at home it's not as if that has meant much this season as it has won just 15 times in 35 games as host. Picking favorable spots to back the Kings is a real chore these days and I don't see that changing in the final month of the season.