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The 8-seed Miami Heat and 5-seed New York Knicks meet in a Sunday matinee for Game 1 of the 2023 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals. Both Miami and New York pulled off 1st-round upsets to advance to the 2nd-round.
The Heat stunned the 1-seed Bucks in a 5-game series win. Jimmy Butler went nuclear against Milwaukee, scoring a career-high 56 points in Game 4. Then Butler followed that up with 46 in a series-clinching Game 5 victory.
New York also made quick work of the 4-seed Cavaliers in a 5-game series. The Knicks dump-trucked the Cavs with a banged-up Julius Randle. Jalen Brunson was the best player in that series and the Knicks won three of the “four factors”.
Health has been a big question mark for Miami all year long. But, the Heat had Butler, big Bam Adebayo, and SG Tyler Herro for all four games against New York in 2023.
NYK beat Miami in the regular-season series 3-1 straight up (SU) and against the spread (ATS) and the totals were 2-2 Over/Under (O/U). Just like in their 1st-round series vs. Cleveland, the Knicks owned the Heat on the glass this season.
Heat at Knicks Game 1 odds (DraftKings Sportsbook)
- Tip-off: 1 p.m. ET.
- Venue: Madison Square Garden.
Even though the Bucks have three All-NBA defenders, the Knicks have more guys to defend Butler. In the 1st Heat-Knicks meeting this season, only New York SG Quentin Grimes guarded Butler.
After NYK acquired Josh Hart, Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau assigned Grimes to Butler for half the game and Hart for the other half. Butler shot 11-for-26 from the field when defended by Grimes or Hart this season (42.3%).
Hart in particular has about as good of a chance as any to defend Butler. He is roughly the same size and Butler is known to muscle smaller guys in the post. Hart’s nickname in college was “The Hulk” because of his upper-body strength.
New York will win the rebounding battle
Hart is one of the best rebounding wings or guards in the NBA. Since the Knicks acquired Hart at the Feb. 9th trade deadline, NYK is the 2nd-best rebounding team in the league.
New York had a +7.8 rebound-per-game margin during the Heat-Knicks regular season series. NYK was also +8.5 paint points per game (PPG) vs. Miami this season.
The Heat just don’t have enough size for the way the Knicks play. If Adebayo helps off Knicks C Mitchell Robinson then the Heat are going to get killed on the glass.
According to CleaningTheGlass.com (CTG), the Knicks are 3rd out of 20 playoff teams including the play-in seeds for offensive and defensive putbacks per miss. While the Heat are 19th offensively and 14th defensively.
NYK has a better shot profile
The Knicks have the 2nd-best shot quality in these playoffs due mostly to them having the 2nd-highest volume of field goal attempts at the rim, per CTG.
Also, New York has a higher wide-open 3-point-attempt rate in these playoffs. Miami hit a ton of tough 3-pointers vs. Milwaukee in the 1st-round and the Heat settle for too many mid-range jumpers.
In fact, in these playoffs, the Heat are 3rd in mid-range field goal frequency, per CTG. NYK is 5th in defensive field goal percentage vs. mid-range shots in the postseason.
Finally, New York has a lot more depth, and role players usually perform much better at home in the playoffs. Both Knicks combo guard Immanuel Quickley and backup big Obi Toppin found their grooves at the end of their previous series.
BET: Knicks -4.5 (-110), up to -5
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