Knicks vs. Heat Odds
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
This is a game between two teams headed in opposite directions. After finishing last season as the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, the Knicks have fallen to the 11 seed just over halfway through this season as Julius Randle and company have taken a step back. The Knicks will be playing their third game in four nights on Wednesday and have lost four of their last five games.
On the other hand, the Heat underachieved last year to finish in the sixth seed, but despite significant absences from players like Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, the Heat currently sit in first overall in the Eastern Conference thanks to their incredible depth.
Will these teams continue to head in opposite directions on Wednesday night with the Heat as home favorites, or will the Knicks stop the bleeding and pull the upset?
Can the Knicks Find Balance on Offense?
If the Knicks cover or win outright, it will be because their offense, led by Randle and RJ Barrett, is more efficient than it has been so far this season. Bigs Nerlens Noel (knee) and Mitchell Robinson (ankle) are both questionable to play Wednesday night while Derrick Rose (ankle) remains out indefinitely.
After a career year last year, Randle has come back to Earth this season. Randle ranks in the 97th percentile in Usage Rate this season among bigs, but he ranks in just the 11th percentile in Points per 100 Shot Attempts (excluding garbage time, per Cleaning The Glass) as he is scoring 13 points fewer per 100 shots than last year.
Randle had an outlier shooting year last season when he made 41% of his 3s, but he has never shot above 34% from beyond the arc in any of his other seven seasons, including this year at 31%.
Like Randle, Barrett has also seen his efficiency decrease both beyond the arc and in the midrange as he ranks in the 90th percentile in Usage Rate among wings but in just the 24th percentile in Points per 100 Shots (Cleaning The Glass).
With the Knicks’ two leading scorers struggling to score efficiently outside the paint, the Knicks’ offense has struggled as they rank just 21st in Offensive Rating (109.9) this season.
If they beat the Heat’s defense that is designed to limit shots at the rim, it will be because Randle and Barrett make more shots than they have been making while players like Evan Fournier, Alec Burks, and Quentin Grimes take advantage of open looks on the perimeter.
Heat Role Players Continue to Excel
If the Heat win and cover, it will be because their shooters stay hot. The Heat will remain without Kyle Lowry (personal), Victor Oladipo (quadriceps), and Markieff Morris (conditioning) on Wednesday.
The Heat have played elite defense all season despite playing a ton of different lineups due to injuries and health and safety protocols. The defense has held up because the Heat have a plethora of high-IQ players who prioritize defense first throughout their roster.
The Heat have also shot the ball well — their 38% accuracy on 3s ranks second in the NBA — as they are one of just three teams (along with the Bucks and Suns) that has an Offensive Rating (fifth) and a Defensive Rating (seventh) among the top seven in the league, excluding garbage time per Cleaning The Glass.
The Heat have gotten consistent play from Butler and Adebayo when they have been available, and electric scorer and frontrunner for Sixth Man of the Year Tyler Herro has carried the bench units. However, the Heat have been at their best when shooters Duncan Robinson and Max Strus have made shots. Robinson started the season out in a shooting slump, but he has recently turned a corner, and the Heat’s offense has consequently found another gear.
Duncan Robinson’s first 22 games of the season:
10.4 PPG – 34.9% FG – 31.8% 3PT – 62.5% FT
Duncan Robinson’s last 22 games of the season:
13.3 PPG – 43.9% FG – 40.2% 3PT – 84.4% FT pic.twitter.com/TLR7JoNSaw
— Heat Nation (@HeatNationCom) January 25, 2022
If Robinson continues to stay hot from beyond the arc, the Heat should have too much offensive firepower for the Knicks to keep up. Besides Butler, Adebayo, and Lowry, just about every Heat player is shooting over 38% on 3s this season, including PJ Tucker at a whopping 46%.
The Heat are the better team, and they match up well with this Knicks team that lacks the shooting from its best players to put enough pressure on the Heat defense. The Heat swept the three-game series against a better version of this Knicks team last year, and I expect a much better Heat team to continue this trend.
The Heat are also more rested with two days off since their last game while the Knicks are on the road and playing their third game in four nights (with each of their top two bigs questionable).
With Robinson finally finding his stroke, this means the Heat should have one of their elite shooters in him or Strus on the court at all times while they also have at least one of their best scorers, Butler or Herro, playing too. The Knicks can’t match this, and they will rely on their role players having an outlier shooting night from beyond the arc, especially if they are shorthanded inside without Robinson and Noel.
The Heat are the deeper team with a much higher offensive ceiling that is peaking right now as they have won seven of their last nine games. Back Miami as 5.5-point favorites on BetMGM with value down to -7.
Pick: Heat -5.5