Miami Heat at New York Knicks in Crucial Battle

Miami Heat at New York Knicks
Madison Square Garden – New York City, New York
Sunday, April 15, 2012, 1:00 pm Eastern, TV: ABC
Opening Line: Miami -3
Current Line: Miami -3
Opening Total: 190 1/2
Current Total: 188 1/2
Opening Money Line: Heat -150 / Knicks +130
Current Money Line: Heat -150 / Knicks +130

The Miami Heat travel to New York to take on the Knicks in a key Eastern Conference Game with playoff implications.

If you looked at Friday’s game against the Charlotte Bobcats, a game in which the Miami Heat won 105-82 to improve to 41-17, you might think the Heat are rounding into playoff shape. However, you have to realize Charlotte is putrid and has a chance to have the worst winning percentage in NBA history, and has lost 15 games in a row. Before that Miami, coached by Eric Spoelstra, had lost two games in a row to Boston at home 115-107 and at Chicago 96-86 in overtime. The loss dropped Miami 4 games behind Chicago for the #1 seed in the Eastern conference with only a handful of games left in the regular season. The Heat lead the Southeast Division by 6.5 games over Atlanta, and have a 4 game lead over Indiana for the #2 seed.

Now, Miami travels to another playoff contender, the 31-28 New York Knicks. The Knicks are tied with Philadelphia for the #7 seed in the East. Both lead Milwaukee by 2.5 games for the last spot in the East, and trail Boston by 3.5 games in the Atlantic Division. The Knicks started the month of March with a 6 game losing streak before coach Mike D’Antoni resigned March 14. Since then the Knicks have gone 13-4 under interim coach Mike Woodson. This is despite being without forward Amare Stoudemire (back) and point guard Jeremy Lin (torn meniscus). New York has won 2 games in a row including crushing Washington 103-65 Friday night.

Miami has won both meetings this season against New York. Both games were in Miami. The Heat won 99-89 January 27, and 102-88 February 23. This is the last meeting scheduled between the two teams this season but They could meet in the first round of the playoffs.

Miami is outscoring opponents 100-94 this season. The Heat are #4 in scoring and #6 in points allowed. The Heat are shooting 47.4% from the field and 36.6% from 3 point range. Miami is first in field goal percentage and is #6 in 3 point percentage. The Heat are #9 in free throw percentage making 77.4% from the line. Miami averages 41.6 rebounds a game with a rebounding margin of +1.4. The Heat averages 20.5 assists, 14.8 turnovers, 9.1 steals, and 5.5 blocks a game. Miami opponents are shooting 43.2% from the field and 37.2% from 3 point range. The Heat are #7 in field goal percentage but are #27 against the 3 point shot. Miami forces 17 turnovers a game.

Miami forward LeBron James averages 26.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, 6.4 assists, and 1.9 steals a game. He is third in the NBA in scoring, and leads the Heat in assists, rebounds, and steals. Dwayne Wade averages 22.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 1.7 steals, and 1.4 blocks a game to lead the team. He is probable with a knee injury. Chris Bosh averages 17.9 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 1.8 assists a game. Point guard Mario Chalmers averages 9.9 points, 2.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.5 steals a game. Forwards Udonis Haslem (illness) and Mike Miller (ankle) are both probable. Center Ronny Turiaf (hamstring) is doubtful.

New York is outscoring opponents 97-94 this season. The Knicks are shooting 43.9% from the field and 32.3% from 3 point range. New York makes 74.5% from the free throw line. The Knicks average 42.4 rebounds a game with a rebounding margin of +0.3. New York averages 19.7 assists, 16.3 turnovers, 9.5 steals, and 4.3 blocks. Knick opponents are shooting 43.8% from the field and 34.9% from 3 point range. New York forces 17.2 turnovers a game.

Knick forward Carmelo Anthony averages 21.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.2 steals a game. Forward Amare Stoudemire averages 17.6 points, 8 rebounds, and 1.1 assists. He has missed the last 10 games with a bulging disc and is doubtful against Miami Sunday. Point guard Jeremy Lin is out with a torn meniscus in his knee. He could return for the Playoffs if the Knicks make it that far. He averaged 14.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, 6.1 assists to lead the team,  and 1.6 steals a game. Guard J.R. Smith averages 11.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.2 steals a game in 28 games since coming back from playing in China. Center Tyson Chandler averages 11.2 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks a game to lead the team in the latter two categories.  Iman Shumpert averages 9.8 points, and leads the Knicks in steals with 1.8 a game. He is questionable with an ankle injury.

New York is 31-28 ATS and the total is 23-36 this season. Miami is 28-30 ATS and 24-32-2. New York is 4-1 ATS in the last 5 against Miami, and the under is 5-0-1 in the last 6. The Heat are 9-4 ATS after scoring 100 points or more, 4-9 after a straight up win, 2-6 as a favorite of 4.5 points or less, 1-4 in road games, 1-5 after a cover, against teams with winning records, and after a straight up win of 10 points or more, 1-6 as a road favorite of 4.5 points or less, 1-7 on one day rest, and 0-4 in road games against teams with winning home records. The Knicks are 6-0 ATS at home against teams with winning road records, 5-0 as  a home underdog of 4.5 points or less, 6-1 as an underdog of 4.5 points or less, 4-1 overall, and against Eastern Conference teams, 7-2 against Southeast teams, and after scoring 100 points, 6-2 after a straight up win of 10 points or more, 7-3 against teams with winning records, and as an underdog, 9-4 after a straight up win, and 5-13 after allowing 75 points or less.

Miami seems to be waiting for the playoffs to start. They feel they can just flip the switch and turn it on. That could be a very dangerous attitude, especially if they draw this dangerous Knicks team in the first round. The Heat are getting almost zero production from everyone except LeBron and D-Wade and even those two seem to want to defer to other in crunch time. The Heat need to win this game more than the Knicks to prove they can beat a good team on the road in a hostile environment.

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