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The 8-seed Miami Heat (1-1) host the 5-seed New York Knicks for Game 3 of the 2023 NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs in a Saturday matinee. New York evened the series with a 111-105 Game 2 win.
Playoff Jimmy Butler will most likely return for Knicks-Heat Game 3. Butler is the best player in this series. He scored 25 points, grabbed 11, and spent a lot of time defending Knicks PG Jalen Brunson in Game 1.
I’ve heard a lot of the NBA talking heads make a point about how badly NYK struggled with Miami in Game 2 with Butler on the sidelines and Knicks All-Star Julius Randle back in the lineup.
This is true. The Heat were +10 ‘dogs Tuesday and New York was never covering that spread. Even with Randle nearly getting a triple-double on a 25-12-8 stat line.
In Knicks-Heat Game 2, NYK was losing at half-time, there were 13 lead changes, the game was tied 13 times and each team was up 8 at one point. This doesn’t factor into my Game 3 analysis though.
Knicks vs. Heat Game 3 odds (DraftKings Sportsbook)
- Tip-off: 3:30 p.m. ET.
- Venue: Kaseya Center in Miami.
Miami coach Erik Spoelstra is one of the best in the business and New York wasn’t worried about covering -10. The Knicks just wanted to even the series before the series heads down to South Beach.
The biggest factor in the Heat’s Game 1 win was the absence of Randle. Butler was able to defend Brunson early and often because Randle didn’t play.
If coach Spo puts Butler on Brunson in Game 3, Randle is going to crush Miami. When Randle plays, the Heat are too small or need PF Kevin Love to play, which hurts Miami’s interior defense.
Randle and Knicks wings R.J. Barrett and Josh Hart will abuse K-Love off the dribble if he’s out there. If K-Love is not out there then NYK is going to clean up the glass.
In the six Knicks-Heats meeting this season (including the playoffs), New York is out-rebounding Miami 44.2-34.8. That’s nearly 10 additional possessions, which is tough to overcome in an NBA playoff game.
Miami is due for shooting regression
NYK has been getting better looks in these playoffs and the Heat’s 3-point shooting is unsustainable. According to CleaningTheGlass.com (CTG), New York is 4th in shot quality during these playoffs and Miami is 18th.
The Heat have the 2nd-worst wide-open 3-point-attempt rate out of 20 teams in this postseason, which includes the eliminated play-in seeds. But, Miami has the 2nd-best 3-point percentage on those wide-open looks.
Butler needs to be sensational and his teammates need to knock down threes for Miami to make up the rebounding differential. NYK’s stockpile of elite on-ball defensive wings reduces the chances for either one of these things to happen.
Between Brunson, Randle, Barrett, and backup combo guard Immanuel Quickley (who is due for a slump-buster), the Knicks have a bunch of people that can step up. Whereas the Heat need Butler to put on the cape.
BET: Knicks +4 (-110), down to +3.5
PS Player Prop: NY Knicks SF Josh Hart combos (22.5)
- OVER 22.5 Points + REBs + ASTs: (-105)
- Under 22.5 Points + REBs + ASTs: (-125)
In the 1st two Knicks-Heat games in this series, Hart is tied for the most rebounds (19) and has dished the most assists (13) but is shooting just 39.1% from the field.
During the regular season, Hart had a 67.2% effective field goal rate (58.6% from the field and 51.9% from 3) in 25 games as a Knick. Also, Hart pushes the pace, which can get him easy points and assists.
Per CTG, New York’s transition frequency rate increased by 3.1% when Hart was on the floor. Miami’s defensive efficiency ranks 18th among the 20 teams in this postseason.
Finally, Hart’s defense keeps him on the floor so he can go Over his 22.5 “PRA” combo. In Knicks-Heat Game 2, Hart defended Butler for a team-high 12:40 minutes. Barrett defended Butler the 2nd-most at 2:07.
BET: New York SF Josh Hart OVER 22.5 Points + REBs + ASTs (-105)
- Betting Strategy: I’m putting 1.1 units on the Knicks plus the points (1 unit = $100) and a quarter-unit-ish on Hart’s player prop.
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