NBA Picks Thursday TNT: Knicks at Heat Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 2/22/2012
Thursday is the final night of NBA basketball – outside of the All-Star Game and its activities – until next Tuesday, and the NBA on TNT doubleheader features two terrific matchups: Knicks at Heat and Lakers at Thunder. As much as I hate to do it, I have to go Knicks-Heat for this week’s preview because of the whole J.R. Smith hysteria!
Jeremy Lin you say?
I’m happy for Lin, who has gone from an undrafted, twice-released, sleeping-on-his-brother’s-couch nobody to worldwide superstar and the talk of the NBA. His play essentially forced David Stern to include him in the Rising Stars game this weekend in Orlando.
I do question the level of competition that Lin has faced thus far. I would argue the Knicks have played only two good teams since Lin began starting, the Lakers and Mavericks. And, indeed, Lin played extremely well in both, but both were at Madison Square Garden. Plus, L.A. has arguably the worst point guard situation in the league, which helps explain Lin’s 38 points, while Dallas has Jason Kidd but he’s 38 years old and was limited to 28 minutes in last Sunday’s game. Without an injured Delonte West and Roddy Beaubois out for personal reasons, Lin had his way with the scraps behind Kidd.
Thursday’s game at Miami will be obviously the Knicks’ toughest test since Lin-sanity took over. Of course, the Heat are probably weakest at point guard but don’t rule out perhaps LeBron James or Dwyane Wade taking their defensive shots at Lin at times. Remember what LeBron did to Derrick Rose in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals?
By the way, note that this game starts an hour earlier, 7 p.m. Eastern, than the usual Thursday TNT opener.
Knicks at Heat How the Teams Enter
The Knicks will be playing the second of a back-to-back after hosting Atlanta (sans Joe Johnson) on Wednesday night. On Monday, the Knicks welcomed back Carmelo Anthony after he missed seven games with a strained groin but they were clocked by New Jersey, 100-92. Nets point guard Deron Williams admitted he was motivated to put Lin in his place, so to speak, and Williams showed Lin’s defensive vulnerabilities by scoring a season-high 38 points.
Lin had begun his remarkable ascent against the Nets on Feb. 4, scoring 25 points with seven assists and five boards in a Knicks win. Lin began starting the next game and hasn’t left the lineup. Even Williams admitted of Monday’s game that “This all started on me.” Lin was still solid Monday with 21 points (but was outscored 36-11 by Williams through three quarters), nine assists and seven rebounds. It was only New York’s second loss in Lin’s 10 starts (entering Wednesday’s game). Anthony clearly was a bit out of sync, scoring just 11 points on 4-for-11 shooting and adding fuel to the fire of those who think the ball-hogging Anthony, who loves to run isolation plays for himself, will have trouble adjusting to Lin.
Miami, meanwhile, was last in action on Tuesday, handling the visiting Kings with ease, 120-108, to improve to 14-2 at home. Wade had one of his best games of the year with 30 points and 10 assists as the Heat won their seventh in a row – all by double digits. Five of those came on the road, the longest such streak in the NBA since the 1969-70 champion Knicks.
Knicks at Heat Betting Story Lines
This is the second meeting of the season between New York and Miami but first since Lin-sanity, and the hype has already started. "It's going to be fun, it's going to be electrifying," LeBron said. "It's going to be one of the most-watched games we've had in a long time."
According to ESPN.com, there are “rumors” that President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton may attend. Both are in Miami for speaking engagements – Clinton was at a Heat-Magic game a few days ago. The average resale ticket price to this game is $510, more than double the average price for Miami’s other contests this season: $219. The average price for this game has risen 178 percent since Feb. 7 (the day after Lin's first start). The highest-priced face value ticket is going for about $9,500. A Heat executive says this is a tougher ticket than any from last year’s NBA Finals.
The Heat didn’t have much trouble in the first meeting with New York, winning 99-89 on Jan. 27 in South Florida (Knicks were +12). LeBron and Wade combined for 59, while Bill Walker (Bill Walker?) led New York with 21 points. Carmelo sat that one out and New York lived behind the three-point line, taking 43 shots from three-point range, the most in the NBA this season. The NBA record is 49 set by Dallas in 1996. The Knicks connected on 18 from beyond the arc. Miami was outscored 54-6 from long range, but the Knicks shot only 35.7 percent from the field overall. Lin didn’t play a second in that game, and New York didn’t yet have either Baron Davis, who’s now playing, or the newly-signed Smith.
The only injury of note for this one (barring something Wednesday night) is that Knicks backup guard Iman Shumpert will sit (and miss the Dunk Contest) with a minor knee injury.
Knicks at Heat Betting Odds and Key Trends
The Heat opened as 10-point favorites with the total at 199.5 on NBA odds. New York is 15-18 ATS overall (entering Wed.) and 7-8 on road. Heat are 17-16 ATS overall and 8-8 at home. ‘Over/under’ records: NY 10-23, MIA 16-16-1.
The Knicks are 4-1 ATS in past five on second of a back-to-back. The Heat have covered their past six vs. Eastern Conference teams. The Knicks have covered past four meetings. The road team is 6-1 ATS in past seven.
Knicks at Heat Betting Prediction
I have NO doubt the Heat win. None whatsoever. The Knicks will be tired and the Heat are going to be jacked up and ready to show who is boss with all this attention on Lin.
Do you also realize that Wade is playing his best ball of the season? His points per game in February are up 4.5 from last month (to 24.8) and he has shot at least 50 percent from the field in 11 straight games. Who guards him? Landry Fields? Smith? Major mismatch regardless. Saying all that, I agonized a bit over this line. Ten points seems like a lot. But Miami is beating everyone into submission right now. So take the Heat and give the points.
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