The New York Knicks are not in the best of positions right now. They are down a game to the Miami Heat at home. And there are questions about who will play as they try to even the series at 7:30 PM ET at Madison Square Garden.
Game 1 offered a tough beat for the Knicks, as they lost a 108-101 decision on their home floor. Head coach Tom Thibodeau lost his best player, Julius Randle, who had to leave in the second quarter with an ankle injury. The Heat were down by twelve points at one juncture but rallied behind 25 points from Jimmy Butler.
But there is more of a story behind that. Butler also injured an ankle, and although he did go off to the locker room as Randle did, he wasn’t a whole lot of used to Miami when he was in the game.
Butler could not attack the hoop nor move without the ball all that well. As a result, he went off and stationed himself in the corner on offensive possessions, and then on the defensive end, he moved away from the ball and did not get involved in switching situations. Later, the Knicks would be criticized for not going after him more on those critical sequences.
We’re unsure who has a better chance of playing – Randle or Butler. Maybe they’ll both be in the starting lineup. But those determinations will not likely be made at NBA online betting sites until shortly before game time.
And then there is also Jalen Brunson, the lead guard the Knicks signed in the off-season and who has been even better than advertised. The team’s offense runs through him, and he had 25 points and seven assists in Game 1. But he was also playing with an injured ankle.
So you have to handicap the injuries as well as the matchup.
In the playoff odds from which we will do our NBA picks, the Knicks are the favorites:
New York Knicks -6.5 (-114)
Miami Heat +6.5 (-106)
Over 206.5 Points -110
Under 206.5 Points -110
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This most certainly does not represent the most profitable of situations for New York.
While the Knicks are 28-15-1 ATS when they are playing on the road, they are just 14-16-2 against the spread as a home favorite. And as far as a straight-up team is concerned, they are only 25-19 in Manhattan. That’s around the middle of the pack in the NBA.
We’d have to say that the Knicks could probably weather the absence of Randle a lot easier than the Heat could do without Butler. Also, remember that Butler is a key figure on defense, enough that he has been an All-Defensive team selection in the past. So Miami better have him in there. The photographers saw him walking around New York on Monday (the day off), so at least he’s doing that.
But Thibodeau will likely run many people at him if he gets the green light to play. And that is going to shift the offense elsewhere. Does the Heat have enough legitimate outlets to do that with?
Meanwhile, I don’t think the Knicks will duplicate the awful 7-for-34 shooting (20.6%) they had from beyond the arc in Game 1. And I say that especially acknowledging that Butler – if he plays – won’t be able to close out as well.
So we are willing to take a chance laying the points with the Knicks in what could be a desperate Game 2.
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