The New York Knicks (7-11, 4-5 away) have been struggling to find form in the early goings of the 2011-12 NBA season, and things may not be getting much easier as they travel to South Florida to take on the Miami Heat (13-5, 7-2 home) without the presence of leading scorer Carmelo Anthony.
Nonetheless, the Knicks will have their sights set on overcoming adversity, in the hopes of securing a third straight win against the Heat, and make strides to break out of a funk that has found them dropping 7 of their last 8 contests.
With so few things going right for the Knicks right now, who have allowed more points (95.3) than they’ve scored on average (94.5) in their 18 games played thus far, perhaps a shuffle of the line-up might not be the worst thing that has happened to them. As Carmelo Anthony will sit with a multitude of injuries including a sprained wrist, ankle and banged up right thumb, the Knicks will have to find a way to fill the scoring gap against the NBA’s second highest scoring team that is generating 104.4 points per game. However, with Anthony’s injuries becoming more of a burden on the team than anything (he’s a combined 5-for-21 for only 16 points in his last 2 starts), perhaps a shake-up in the rotation is just what the Knicks need to get back on track. What’s even more interesting, is that New York has won only twice in games where ‘Melo has taken 20 or more shots, so seeing some balance on offense might not do the Knicks any worse than what they’ve been doing lately. However, with scoring relatively limited to Anthony (23.6 points, 6.9 rebounds/game) and Amare Stoudamire (17.8 points, 8.4 rebounds), certain Knicks players including Tyson Chandler (10.6 points, 10.1 rebounds), Landry Fields (9.4 points) and Iman Shumpert (11.3 points) are going to have to stand up and fill the void. Expect power forward Jared Jeffries (3.9 points, 2.3 boards in 19.1 minutes/game) to also be more involved in tonight’s game with Anthony out, but as he’s been one of the leaders off the bench amongst a relatively thin group, unless he has a standout game tonight in Miami, it could be a long game for the Knicks to come.
Miami too will be short one Dwayne Wade (19.6 points, 5.4 assists/game) for seventh straight game, and undoubtedly the Heat will miss their star guard who has played very well in games against New York, averaging 28 points and 10 rebounds over the 4 meetings against the Knicks last year. However, Miami has more than proven they have the depth this year to overcome the absence of one of their Big Three, as the Heat have won 5 of 6 games, and have been stepping up on the defensive side of the ball without Wade in the line-up contributing the extra points. Looking for their third straight win, and also trying to snap a 2-game slide against New York tonight, Miami has been on an interesting trend this year that could bode well for them knocking out a victory on home court; they’ve yet to win less than 3 straight games before suffering a loss, having secured a 5-game streak to open the season, and two 3-game winning streaks thus far. Sitting on two piled up wins heading into the start of a 3-game home stand, the trend looks likely to continue especially if the Heat continue to get outstanding play from Chris Bosh (28.8 points in his last 4 games), and if LeBron James (29.1 points, 8 rebounds, 7.1 assists) continue to shoot the ball well and often. How’s this for a telling stat? In all five games Miami has lost this year, LeBron James took 20 or less shots. When James takes 21 or more shots, the Heat are 7-0. Giveth King James thy ball, and he shall delivereth thee a victory henceforth.
Betting Lines for Miami Heat vs. New York Knicks at Betonline Sportsbook
Miami waltzes in to their 3-game home stand tonight with plenty of confidence and an 11 point favorite against the spread versus a New York Knicks team that simply hasn’t been able to find consistency shooting the ball, or playing defense. With the money line for tonight’s giving huge -780 odds to the Heat to win straight up and +600 odds to New York for the win, there’s very little chance many online sports bettors will find either wager there worth the effort. Instead, your best bets on tonight’s match-up lie with the spread, or the over/under, which stands at a reasonable 195 points. That takes into consideration Miami’s recent stingy defense (allowing just 91.8 points per game in their last 6 games) and New York’s inconsistent scoring against teams with better than .500 records (88 points/game in those match-ups), not to mention the absence of Carmelo Anthony. However, we can be pretty certain that the Heat, who are averaging a league-best 106.6 points per game, will have little difficulty putting up serious points against New York, even without Dwayne Wade in the lineup, which even with subdued scoring input from the Knicks, could result in a breakout of the 195 over/under margin tonight.
Our Pick to Win:
It may not be a question of who’s going to win this match-up tonight, but rather a question of how much the Miami Heat are going to win by. Even if New York gets step-up play from their bench, and plays much better defense than typical, Miami is hot right now, and definitely wants to get off on the right foot at home for the first leg of their three-game home stand. Look for LeBron James to have a stand-out night as New York puts extra emphasis down low on Chris Bosh, and for the peripheral Heat players including point guard Mario Chalmers and Mike Miller to possibly stand out as well. Miami picks up the win for their third straight, taking the game handily 110-91.