2012 NBA Picks: New York Knicks @ Miami Heat Odds and Predictions – Free NBA Picks on TNT 12/6/12 A pair of division leaders will go head to head Thursday night when the New York Knicks (13-4) head to South Beach to take on the defending champion Miami Heat (12-4). Both teams have been among the best in the NBA since the year began, and the winner of Thursday’s matchup will have the best record in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks have already knocked of the Heat once this year, winning 104-84 in New York in early November. However, there is a good chance that their leading scorer Carmelo Anthony will miss Thursday’s game with a cut on his finger. Add in the fact that the Heat are 8-0 at home this year, and it is easy to understand why Miami is a seven-point favorite.
New York has opened the year with an offensive explosion. The Knicks currently rank fourth in the NBA in scoring and are hitting more 3-pointers per game than any other team in the league while posting the third-best 3-point percentage. Anthony has led the way and currently ranks third in the NBA in points per game, but point guard Raymond Felton and swingman J.R. Smith have provided plenty of scoring, as well. Meanwhile, defending Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler anchors a defense that ranks eighth in the league in points allowed.
Offensively, Miami has picked up right where it left off last season. The Heat currently rank second in the NBA in points per game (104.4) and are leading the league with a 49.3 field goal percentage. Defending MVP LeBron James is leading the way and is currently fourth in the NBA in scoring. Meanwhile, Dwyane Wade has been playing better of late after dealing with injuries early in the year while Chris Bosh is enjoying his best season since joining the Heat. Not to mention that the offseason signing of Ray Allen has helped Miami compile the second-best 3-point percentage in the NBA. Defense on the other hand has been a different story. Miami enters Thursday’s game with the 21st-ranked scoring defense, allowing 99.9 points per game.
The Knicks Win If:
Even if Anthony misses the game, the Knicks could still put points on the board. Thanks to guys like Smith, Steve Novak, Felton and Jason Kidd, New York is leading the NBA with 11.8 made 3-pointers per game. Take away the 2.4 makes per game that Anthony is averaging, and the Knicks would still be leading the NBA in the category. If the New York shooters are having a hot night from beyond the arc, the Knicks still have a shot to hang with the high-scoring Miami offense. Defensively, Chandler needs to stay out of foul trouble and prevent James and Wade from slashing to the basket and getting easy scores. If Chandler can disrupt the Heat stars the same way he did when he helped Dallas beat Miami in the NBA Finals, the perimeter players will have a chance to shoot the Knicks to a big road win.
The Heat Win If:
The Miami offense is still the efficient, high-scoring machine that it was last year when the Heat won the title. However, the defending champs have had lapses on the defensive side of the ball, including allowing the Knicks to hit 19 3-pointers in the first meeting between these two teams. If Miami can do a better job of protecting the perimeter, the Heat can slow down the New York offense. The Knicks don’t have many players that can create their own shot, especially if Anthony ends up missing the game. If James and company take away the 3-point shot, their offense that is leading the NBA in field goal percentage will take care of the rest.
In the first meeting between these teams, the Knicks came out on fire from beyond the arc, dropping 33 points in the first quarter and basically breaking Miami’s will to compete. The Heat probably aren’t going to let history repeat itself, especially at home against a team that they have to want to send a message to. With a more-focused defensive effort on the part of the Heat, the Knicks are going to be hard pressed to duplicate their performance from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, the Heat have been unstoppable at home, scoring an NBA-best 112.0 points per game on 51.6 percent shooting. With Anthony at less than 100 percent or out all together, the Knicks just aren’t going to have the offensive firepower to take down the Heat in South Beach.
Prediction: Miami Heat (-7) Cover the Spread
New York Knicks @ Miami Heat
Spread: Miami -7.5
Time: 8:05 PM EST on TNT
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