MIAMI HEAT (27-8)
at NEW YORK KNICKS (12-22)
Tip-off: Thursday, 8:00 p.m. ET
Line: Miami -6.5, Total: 198.5
The Heat carry a three-game winning streak into Madison Square Garden Thursday to face a surging Knicks team that has won three of its last four games.
Miami hosted the Pelicans on Tuesday and coasted to a 107-88 win-and-cover, making the club 11-2 SU (5-8 ATS) over the past 13 contests. New York has been playing very well since 2014 began, posting its fourth straight ATS victory Tuesday night with an 89-85 victory over the Pistons. But while the Heat have been solid on the road (11-5 SU, 9-7 ATS), the Knicks have been atrocious at home, going 5-12 SU and 4-13 ATS. Last season, New York played extremely well against the Heat, going 3-1 (SU and ATS) in their four meetings. Over the past three seasons, however, Miami is 8-4 SU and 6-5-1 ATS in this series, with the Under going 8-3-1. Over the past three seasons, New York is 11-1 ATS at home games after 3+ straight ATS wins. The Heat, however, are 13-2 ATS as a road favorite of 6.5 to 9 points over the past two seasons. Both teams are unsure about their rosters on Thursday. PG Mario Chalmers (Achilles) and SF Shane Battier (quad) are questionable for the Heat, while the Knicks are dealing with a flu bug going around the locker room and could be without PF Kenyon Martin and C Tyson Chandler as they recover from their illness. PG Beno Udrih (knee) is also listed as questionable, but PF Andrea Bargnani and C Cole Aldrich should be active after having already gotten sick.
Will the Heat roll to a comfortable victory in New York on Thursday? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The five experts are sizzling on NBA Best Bets since the start of December, going 61% ATS (80-52-1) including 64% ATS (54-31-1) since Dec. 16. StatFox Zach has a huge 73% ATS mark (19-7-1) since Dec. 1 and is currently 59% ATS (30-21-1) on Best Bets for the season. StatFox Dave has an excellent 68% ATS (19-9) Best Bets record since Dec. 1 and is 56% ATS (29-23) on Best Bets for the season. StatFox Gary is 69% ATS (11-5) in Best Bets since Dec. 16, while StatFox Scott is 65% ATS (11-6) in this same timeframe. Since Dec. 12, StatFox Brian has a 58% ATS (11-8) Best Bets record.
The Heat continue to be one of the best teams in the league on both sides of the court, averaging 104.9 PPG (5th in NBA) and allowing only 97.9 PPG (7th in league). During its 11-2 SU surge, they are scoring 108.7 PPG on a robust 52.2% FG (37.5% threes). Miami picked up a third straight victory Tuesday over the Pelicans in which SF LeBron James (25.5 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 6.7 APG) had 32 points (13-of-22 FG), five assists and two steals. James has always dominated the Knicks with gaudy averages of 27.8 PPG (49% FG), 7.3 RPG, 6.9 APG and 2.1 SPG in 33 meetings. This includes 29.4 PPG (48% FG), 7.1 RPG, 6.6 APG and 2.1 SPG in 16 visits to Madison Square Garden. SG Dwyane Wade (19.5 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 4.9 APG) was also huge for the Heat on Tuesday, as he chipped in 22 points, eight assists and eight rebounds. Although he averaged just 16.0 PPG against the Knicks last season, he has torched them for 27.0 PPG (48% FG), 6.0 RPG and 5.7 APG in 27 career meetings. The real surprise performance on Tuesday came from PF Chris Andersen (6.5 PPG, 4.4 RPG) who was perfect in the game with 15 points (7-of-7 FG), seven rebounds and a block. The Heat will need Andersenís energy off the bench against the Knicks who are an extremely deep team. PF Chris Bosh (15.9 PPG, 6.6 RPG) will be relied on heavily as he will battle Tyson Chandler inside. Bosh has just 20 points on 5-of-16 FG over the past two games, but the Heat wonít be able to get away with another small performance from their biggest starter. Bosh's paltry 6.0 RPG against the Knicks last season was a big reason his team lost the season series, and Miami currently has the fewest amount of rebounds in the league at 36.5 RPG. PG Norris Cole (7.2 PPG, 3.1 APG) started in place of injured PG Mario Chalmers (9.3 PPG, 5.1 APG, 1.9 SPG) on Tuesday and had just nine points and two assists. The Knicks have been weak at defending the point guard position and no matter who starts for the Heat, they must get a big advantage from Cole or Chalmers.
New York's offense has been dreadful this season with just 94.9 PPG on 43.3% FG, which both rank 26th in the NBA. But the club's three-point shooting has been solid with 8.7 made threes per game (7th in NBA) on a 35.7% clip (13th in NBA). And during their 3-1 start to the 2014 calendar year, the Knicks are scoring 96.5 PPG on 45.3% FG and 40.0% threes. They also rank ninth in the league in scoring defense (98.4 PPG allowed), including 92.0 PPG allowed in January. PG Raymond Felton (10.6 PPG, 5.2 APG) missed 12 of 13 games with a groin injury, but returned to action on Tuesday against Detroit and scored 12 points while dishing out six assists in 31 minutes. His presence should really help against a Heat team that could be without Mario Chalmers, and Felton played very well in last season's series, tallying 15.0 PPG (43% threes) and 6.8 APG against Miami. SF Carmelo Anthony (26.3 PPG, 8.6 RPG) has been outstanding over the four January games, averaging 26.3 PPG, 7.8 RPG and 3.3 APG while also chipping in 2.0 SPG on the defensive end. Anthony will need to go toe-to-toe with LeBron James, which is no easy task for anybody. But Anthony sure rose to the occasion against the Heat last season with 37.3 PPG on 51% FG, 57% threes and 90% free throws. Since joining the Knicks, Anthony has averaged 33.7 PPG (48% FG, 49% threes) and 6.5 RPG in six meetings with Miami. Another big factor in the New York's recent turnaround has been the play of SG Iman Shumpert (7.4 PPG, 4.8 RPG). During the four January games, Shumpert has tallied 16.8 PPG on 60% FG and 62% threes (13-of-21) with 5.5 RPG. He will need to hold Dwyane Wade in check if the Knicks are going to pull out a victory in this one.