Game: Miami Heat @ New York Knicks
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Odds: Heat -5.5, Knicks +5.5
The Miami Heat were expected to be pretty good this season, but 38-21 and a half-game out of first place in the Eastern Conference at the All-Star break? Not many expected that especially with a number of Heat stars missing time. That’s exactly where Miami is though and the Heat now has the entire second half of the season to work on possibly securing the top spot in the conference playoffs. The Heat’s opponent tonight, the Knicks, has been pretty surprising as well.
New York finished fourth in the East last season and expectations were high coming into 2021-22. Things haven’t exactly worked out for the Knicks, who are now 12th in the conference race and on the outside of the play-in tournament. They have struggled as evidenced by their three-game losing streak just before the All-Star break. The Knicks have won just twice in their last ten games, but tonight they get a shot at starting the second half off on the right foot.
The second half got a little bleaker for the Knicks when they announced they will be shutting down guard Kemba Walker for the remainder of the season. Walker was taken out of the playing rotation by head coach Tom Thibodeau and has been unhappy with his role. His contract expires this summer, so the Knicks will move on. They will get Derrick Rose back soon, but not tonight.
The Knicks have had other injury issues as well. Both Nerlens Noel and RJ Barrett have been in and out of the New York lineup. Both are listed as questionable for tonight, but were supposed to be out of the lineup until the beginning of March. With these lineup issues, it’s easy to see why Miami is a 5.5-point favorite at Madison Square Garden.
New York still plays pretty good defense. They rank No. 8 in the league in points allowed per game (106.6). Before the All-Star break, the Knicks allowed 111 points or more in eight straight games. They lost seven of them.
Miami is even better on defense. The Heat rank fifth in the NBA in points allowed per game at 104.4. Before the break, the Heat won six of seven games and in three of their wins, Miami held its opponent to fewer than 100 points. The Heat are also 4-2-1 ATS in their last seven games and they have had great success against the Knicks historically. Miami has won eight of the last ten against New York and the Heat is 7-2 ATS in the last nine head-to-head games.
The teams have played once this season. Miami won 110-96. That game actually went Over the total, which was set at 202.5. In Miami’s last seven games, the total went Under five times. The total has actually gone Over in four of the Knicks’ last five. In the Heat-Knicks series, it has been the Over that has hit lately with four of the last six totals going Over.