Heat vs. Knicks Odds
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
After the Knicks finished as the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, and the Heat finished as the sixth seed, both teams have moved in opposite directions this year. The Knicks sit in 12th place in the East after a horrific loss in their last game to the Nets (who were without their four best players) after blowing a 28-point lead.
The Heat have had their fair share of injuries and absences like other teams this season, but they have weathered the storm as they entered the All-Star break in a tie for first place in the East with the Bulls thanks to quality play from a variety of players up and down the roster.
Can the Knicks turn their momentum around on Friday night at home? Let’s dive into this matchup below.
If the Heat win and cover as road favorites, it will be because they defend Julius Randle well while pushing the ball ahead in transition to get buckets before the Knicks defense is set.
The Heat went into the break with Tyler Herro, Caleb Martin and Dewayne Dedmon out, but all three are expected to play tonight. Victor Oladipo (knee) and Markieff Morris (neck) remain out – although Oladipo did travel with the team to New York, indicating his return could be coming soon.
The Heat are as healthy as they have been all season long after resting up during the All-Star break, and their offense should be much better than it was over the last week before the break with Herro’s three-level scoring back in the fold. The Heat now can much more easily stagger their shooters with Herro, Duncan Robinson and Max Strus and finish with whoever has the hot hand and/or can defend better based on matchups down the stretch.
The key for the Heat will be to cut the head off of the snake by defending Randle well and forcing him to take tough shots. With a plethora of smart and rangy defenders, the Heat have done that well in the past, including when they beat the Knicks 110-96 on January 26th. They limited Randle to just 11 points in that game on 12 shots as he finished with a plus/minus of -34 in 27 minutes.
Another key for the Heat will be to push the ball so that players like All-Star Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo can take advantage of their smarts and athleticism against smaller players for easy buckets. The weakness of this Heat team is its halfcourt offense, but with a pretty full set of players back, that should be less of an issue now that it was with Herro or Butler out previously.
New York Knicks
The Knicks looked to add offensive pieces to their strong defense from last year by adding Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier in the offseason. However, the Knicks offense, which ranked 24th in Offensive Rating last season (110.7 excluding garbage time, per Cleaning The Glass) has gotten less efficient this year as they now rank 21st in the league with a 109.9 Offensive Rating.
While the offense hasn’t improved, the defense has fallen off a cliff as they went from fourth in Defensive Rating (108.4) to 16th this season (111.0). The Knicks were the beneficiaries of some opponent 3-point shooting luck last year but haven’t gotten as many lucky bounces this season.
If the Knicks win and cover at home against the Heat, they need Julius Randle and their shooters to step up while playing more inspired defense, especially if RJ Barrett and Derrick Rose can’t play.
Barrett (ankle) and Nerlens Noel (foot) are both questionable to play Friday while Rose (ankle) is doubtful. Kemba Walker has been ruled out for the rest of the regular season so that he can work out in preparation for next season.
The Heat have historically defended this Knicks team well. In the last four meetings (three last year and one this season), the Knicks have averaged 95.75 points per game and have gone 0-4 against the Heat.
Randle has struggled mightily against the Heat’s defense that is designed to limit shots close to the rim over this span, and he will need his shooters on the perimeter like Fournier, Quentin Grimes, Alec Burks and Immanuel Quickley to be efficient to generate space for him inside.
The Knicks are a worse team than they were last year, and while they are a different team this year, they still match up poorly against the Heat. The Heat have shut down Randle consistently and have the better offensive talent to get more tough buckets in the halfcourt. The Knicks also may be without several key contributors with Barrett – one of the only bright spots on the team this year – questionable and Rose doubtful.
The Heat are a better team than the Knicks on both ends, and I love the value on them to cover at -5.5 on FanDuel for one unit, with value down to -7. Alternatively, the Heat may come out rusty on the road after the break, so if you want to be aggressive, wait to get them on the live moneyline at -3 or better.
Pick: Heat -5.5 | Heat -3 or Better Live