Surprise, surprise, the Miami Heat and New York Knicks are being showcased on the NBA's TNT Thursday doubleheader this week. Those two have to lead the league in such appearances. I rather like this rivalry because the Knicks think they are arch-rivals of Miami. The Heat consider the Knicks an annoying pest like a gnat and miles away from their basketball stratosphere. Of course, Miami won't even acknowledge Indiana as a rival, but that arrogance seems to work well with the Heat.
The Knicks remain one of the NBA's biggest disappointments at 12-22; if the playoffs ended today the Knicks would be out. However, I have no doubt they climb in at some point as long as Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler stay healthy. New York could still win the terrible Atlantic Division, currently just 4.5 games back of Toronto, and the Raptors are probably going to continue selling off parts. The Heat might clinch the Southeast by the all-star break (kidding), and they frankly don't care a lick about the regular season. Sure, it would be nice to have home-court advantage in the East, but Miami made it to the 2011 & '12 Finals without it. The Pacers NEED home-court advantage, by comparison.
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Somehow this is the first meeting of the season between these media darlings. All four matchups will be nationally televised.
Heat at Knicks Betting Story Lines
If Knicks coach Mike Woodson was going to be fired, it probably would have happened by now, so I'm guessing he's safe at least the rest of the season. New York had its best win of the season last Thursday in San Antonio, a 105-101 upset behind 27 points and 12 rebounds from Carmelo Anthony. Iman Shumpert, an oft-mentioned trade candidate, had a career-high 27 and the tiebreaking tip-in with 23.4 seconds left. New York followed that with a close loss in Houston the next night (very understandable) and then wins Sunday in Dallas and home Tuesday vs. Detroit. You never know, if the Knicks could win Thursday, they might even be at .500 by the end of the month with a fairly easy schedule upcoming outside of this one, at Indiana on the 16th and home to the Chris Paul-less Clippers on Jan. 17.
Starting point guard Raymond Felton returned from missing six straight games due to injury in Tuesday's 89-85 win over the Pistons and was solid with 12 points and six assists in 31 minutes. He might have to play heavy minutes for a while because backup guard Beno Udrih hurt his knee in that game. The team already is without another guard, Pablo Prigoni, from a fractured big toe suffered Dec. 16. There seems to be a flu or cold bug going around much of the Eastern U.S. with the wicked weather covering the region, and the Knicks haven't been immune to that. Chandler missed Tuesday's game with an illness and likely will be a game-time call for this one. So, too, may be Kenyon Martin, who did play with a bug on Tuesday.
You always have to be on guard for whom Miami might sit on a given night, especially when it comes to Dwyane Wade. I don't think LeBron James will sit unless he's actually hurt. He's too much like Michael Jordan in that way. The Heat routed New Orleans 107-88 on Tuesday, their third straight win and fifth in the past six games. James and Wade combined for 54 against the Pelicans. It was the 10th 30-point game of the season for James, and Miami is 9-1 in those. And it was the first time since March 25, 2011, that Wade had at least 22 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in the same game. He must be feeling pretty good as he hasn't sat out any of the past six games.
Keep a huge eye on Miami as I believe the Heat will be big time after Andrew Bynum, who was just waived by Chicago after the Luol Deng trade. Bynum presumably would be a much better option to take up minutes in the paint when it matters than Greg Oden would. Bynum reportedly has the Heat and Clippers on his short list of teams he'd like to play for. He'll clear waivers and can sign with anyone he wants. Indiana might try to sign him just to keep him away from Miami. Doubt Bynum wants to play there.
Heat at Knicks NBA Betting Odds and Key Trends
At BetOnline, Miami opened as a 6.5-point favorite with a total of 198.5. The Heat are 16-19 ATS (9-7 on road) and 21-14 “over/under” (9-7 on road). The Knicks are 14-20 ATS (4-13 at home) and 17-17 O/U (10-7 at home). The Heat are 6-1 ATS in their past seven road games against teams with a losing home record. Miami is 1-6 ATS in its past seven after a win. The Knicks are 12-3 ATS in their past 15 Thursday games. They are 4-9 ATS in their past 13 against teams with a winning record. The over is 8-2 in Miami's past 10 against the Eastern Conference. The over is 5-2 in New York's past seven against the East. The under is 7-0 in the past seven meetings in New York. The favorite has covered eight of the past 11 meetings.
Free NBA Picks: Heat at Knicks Betting Predictions
To prove the regular season means squat, the Knicks won three of four against Miami last year. Throw out the last meeting as both LeBron and Wade sat as it was late in the 2012-13 regular season. Anthony averaged 37.3 points in his three games versus Miami.
This is tough to handicap because Chandler is so important to the Knicks' defense, but I think he plays. There are only a handful of games to get amped up for in the regular season, and this is definitely one of them for New York. The Knicks still like to think of themselves as contenders and should play like it. Take the points and the under.
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