(19-8, 13-14 ATS)
New York Knicks
(16-10, 18-7-1 ATS)
The New York Knicks had their eight game winning streak stopped at the hands of the smoking Boston Celtics at home on Wednesday night. Now, they’re back at it with the almost equally hot Miami Heat coming to Madison Square Garden in a nationally televised NBA betting battle on Friday.
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The Heat have captured ten in a row outright and are a whopping 8-2 ATS in this run as well. A 101-95 escape from the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday was the most recent game in this run, a game which came nowhere near covering the 16.5 point NBA odds. Defensively, Miami is second to none in the NBA, as there is no team in the league that is allowing fewer points per game (91.1) or holding teams to a lower field goal percentage (42.6) than it is. Obviously, when you’re talking about Heat basketball, you have to talk about the “Big Three,” as this is their first trip to MSG together after all three of them spurned chances at becoming Knicks in the offseason. LeBron James has always put on a spectacle here in the Big Apple, and he hopes that tonight is no exception. LBJ is narrowly the team’s leading scorer at 23.9 points per game, with G Dwyane Wade just behind at 23.6 points per game. Chris Bosh is the top rebounder on the club at 7.9 boards per night, and he is third on the team in scoring at 17.8 points per game. There is still a lack of muscle on the inside in Miami, something that could really come back to bite this team should it draw a bad matchup in the postseason.
The Knicks present a tremendous challenge for the Heat in this one, as they have one of the top offenses in the league at 108.8 points per game. They just dropped a whopping 116 on the Boston Celtics, and had Amare Stoudemire’s three point attempt gotten out of his hands just a split second sooner, it would have been 119 and would have continued New York’s winning streak. Still, in this stretch, Head Coach Mike D’Antoni has really had his boys flying up and down the court. The Knicks have gone 8-1 ATS in their last nine and they have averaged 114.7 points per game in doing so. They have reached 110 points in seven of the nine games. The defense can appear to be optional at the time, but D’Antoni and company don’t mind allowing 105 points in a game if he can get his offense shooting the ball at a rate of over 47 percent from the floor. Stoudemire has been a real man child this year, averaging 26.7 points and 9.1 boards per game, and he has scored over 30 points in nine in a row.
The one thing that the Knicks have that the Heat don’t is a big time body in the middle. When Miami was losing, this was the key to beating it. Stoudemire is just playing out of his mind right now, and though New York did lose that game to the C’s on Wednesday night, it has to feel like it can compete with anyone in the NBA. The Knicks get their man on Friday and down the hot Heat.
NBA Free Pick: New York Knicks +5