NBA Playoffs Predictions: Heat at Knicks Game 3 Odds and Picks
by Alan Matthews - 5/2/2012
The Chicago Bulls went out Tuesday night and laid an egg at home in the game immediately following losing their star for the rest of the playoffs – thankfully I recommended taking Philly and the points there. Will the New York Knicks do the same on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinals series against the Miami Heat?
Now don’t get me wrong, I am definitely not comparing New York’s Amare Stoudemire to Chicago’s Derrick Rose, who is the reigning NBA MVP and one of the Top 5 players in the world. But Stoudemire is an all-star-caliber player usually. And he was supposed to be the franchise-changer for the Knicks when they signed him a few offseasons ago. At least he was until the Knicks later traded for Carmelo Anthony.
By now you no doubt know that Stoudemire injured his left (non-shooting) hand after New York’s Game 2 loss in Miami on Monday. Stoudemire punched one of those fire extinguisher cabinets and his hand went through the glass, causing a deep cut(s) that needed several stitches to close. The good news is that there was apparently no ligament or tendon damage, although Stoudemire did undergo minor surgery. He has been ruled out for Game 3 and most reports say he’s done for this series, although Stoudemire is chirping he thinks he can play in Sunday’s Game 4.
The way things are looking Sunday likely will be the Knicks’ final game of the season as they have been completely outclassed thus far by the Heat.
Heat at Knicks Betting Story Lines
Can you have addition by subtraction when you are losing an all-star big man? Ninety-nine percent of the time the answer would be no. But with the Knicks it might be yes. It’s now clear that Stoudemire and Carmelo can’t function together. Anthony creates his own shot through isolation plays and thrived when Stoudemire was out injured in the regular season, averaging around 30 points per game with the Knicks going 14-5 (and 14-5 ATS) when Amare was hurt. Stoudemire, on the other hand, likes to hang on the high post and run pick and rolls – he had his best success when Jeremy Lin was healthy and Melo wasn’t.
For example, according to the Wall Street Journal, of the Knicks' top 15 lineup combinations ranked by production, Stoudemire is featured in just three of them. The small lineup of Anthony moving to the power forward spot is the Knicks’ best lineup, outscoring their opponents by 44 points in the 168 minutes they've been on the floor together. Stoudemire and Anthony are outscored by opponents when on the floor together and Anthony's points per game average drops by eight points a game when Stoudemire is playing in the game.
For the whole season, here is the cumulative scoreboard with Stoudemire on the floor this season: Knicks 3,052, Opponents 3,099 -- or losing on average by 1.3 points every 48 minutes. With Stoudemire off the floor, it’s Knicks 3,406, Opponents 3,153 -- winning on average by 7.4 points every 48 minutes.
Anthony scores nearly 10 more points per 100 possessions at power forward, where he is quicker than his defender, and his effective field goal percentage jumps from 42.7 at small forward to 51.8 at the four. Carmelo’s Player Efficiency Rating as a small forward is 16.5, which is slightly above average. At power forward, it is 28.9, among the best of any player in the NBA. Frankly, the Knicks goofed by using their one-time amnesty clause on Chauncey Billups – I bet they would love to have that right now to use on a clearly declining Stoudemire and his uninsured contract after this season. They likely will try to deal him this offseason. Good luck.
Knicks Coach Mike Woodson hasn’t decided on his starting lineup yet with Stoudemire out. Of course, Lin remains out likely for this series and starting guard Iman Shumpert tore his ACL in Game 1 and done for the season. But look for Woodson to go small so the Knicks can try and space the floor and get some use out of three-point stud Steve Novak, who has been smothered thus far. Novak led the NBA in three-point shooting this season.
Ironically, the main edge the Knicks were supposed to have in this series was the bench, but Shumpert’s and Lin’s injuries have completely shortened that unit and it has been outplayed by Miami’s reserves, mainly Mike Miller and Shane Battier. And point guard was considered one of Miami’s weak links, but Mario Chalmers has averaged 12 points, 7.5 assists and only two turnovers through two games.
Heat at Knicks Betting Odds and Key Trends
Miami opened as a five-point favorite with the total at 186.5 on NBA odds (about 65 percent of early action is on Heat). The Heat were 14-19 ATS on the road this season with an ‘over/under’ mark of 15-16-2. The Knicks were 21-12 ATS at home this season and 15-18 on the O/U.
The Heat are 1-5 ATS in their past six road games. They are 9-2 in their past 11 playoff games as a favorite. New York is 8-1 ATS in its past nine games after a loss. The Knicks are 5-1 ATS in their past six home games as an underdog. The under is 5-1 in Miami’s past six road games. The over has hit just once in New York’s past nine games vs. a team with a winning record. Miami has covered four of its past five in New York.
NBA Playoffs Predictions: Heat at Knicks Betting Picks
The Knicks are looking for their first playoff win since April 29, 2001. The club's 12-game playoff losing streak has them tied with the Memphis Grizzlies for the longest in league history. But New York is 0-5 vs. Miami this year and only one game was decided by less than double-digits: on April 15 at the Garden, the Knicks only lost 93-85 thanks to 42 points from Melo. Stoudemire, incidentally, didn’t play in that game.
So I look for huge numbers from Anthony as he’s clearly the only offense this team has – if he shoots less than 30 times it will be a miracle. And perhaps Melo gets hot and keeps the game close. But I see no way that a Knicks team missing three of its top six or seven players, plus with a gimpy Baron Davis at the point, can win, much less cover. Take the Heat and the under.
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