Miami Heat -4.5 at New York Knicks (Total: 186.5)
It is widely documented that Amar’e Stoudemire will miss tonight’s game and likely the short remainder of the Knicks season after his fire extinguisher fighting defeat (damn fire extinguishers! They are a tough lot…), and the Knicks, despite all the stats and reports to the contrary, will feel his absence sharply. It will cut deep. It will leave their hands bloody. It will… (ok, ok, I’m done…).
I’ve heard dozens of talking heads pontificating at length about how this is a “good thing” for the Knicks on the court, and about how much better the team is when it is just Carmelo Anthony on the floor. Ironically, they mean “when it is Carmelo and not Lin and Amar’e, but it does often seem it is JUST Anthony on the floor…) I also remember when the Knicks were “better with Carmelo and Amar’e” thanks to Jeremy Lin. Then, the Knicks were better with “just Amar’e and Lin, and no Carmelo”… perhaps there is an easier and simpler algorithm. The Knicks just aren’t very good. Period.
I think that is the most likely answer. And I think they prove that fact true tonight. They are returning home to the Garden, hoping to win their first playoff game as a franchise in 12 years. But it isn’t going to happen. I’ve seen the stat: the Knicks are -1.7 points per 48 minutes with Amar’e on the court. They are +7.4 without him. In contrast, the Miami Heat’s season point differential is +6.8. Some people (not bright ones) have used that stat to extrapolate that they Knicks without Amar’e are actually better than the Heat! Of course, this stat doesn’t take into account the opponents played during his absences, the fact that when he is in the lineup much of that differential is when the second units for both teams are in the game (and the Knicks have a fairly decent bench, especially offensively with Novak and JR Smith and occasionally Landry Fields, depending on the lineup.) That is all that stat is really telling us. Certainly not that the mere absence of Stoudemire makes this an elite ballclub!
Even with the possible absence of Chris Bosh who is home tending to the birth of his child, I still like the Heat to win and to win big. They are simply so much better defensively that it will take a ridiculous shooting night by the Knicks to keep them in the game. And Miami defends the perimeter and three point shooters as well as any team in the NBA. I don’t see Novak or JR Smith getting loose and hitting nine or ten threes to carry the Knickerbockers tonight.
Lebron and Wade seem focused on simply torching through the East and storming back to the Finals. In fact, all the early season woes seem like just an inconvenient sleepwalk waiting for the “real” season to begin. Well, it’s finally here and the poor Knicks are doing all they can to just get out of the scorching path…
Free Pick: Miami Heat -4.5 <– Click for $100 Bonus