New York Knicks at Miami Heat -10.5 (Total: 183)
Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks needed every one of ‘Melo’s 43 points Sunday to keep the series alive. But does he have enough in the tank to extend the series improbably as Game Five heads down to Miami? Let’s dig into some numbers for this series and see if we can find an edge for tonight’s game.
For the Heat, was Sunday’s letdown a sign that the Knicks have found some life, or simply an aberration? In the three games prior, the Heat won by double-digits in each occasion. Sunday, Carmelo absolutely catches fire, dropping 41 points (the most of any player in a single game this postseason prior to Kobe’s 43 late last night)… and the Knicks still needed a last-second miss by Dwayne Wade in order to stave off elimination. There were a few other troubling signs if you are a Knick fan.
For starters, it is not terribly likely that the Heat will miss eleven free throws. It is also not likely they will miss sixteen three point attempts. Mike Miller and Shane Battier combined for four points in a combined 48 minutes of play, shooting 1 of 7 from behind the arc. The Heat also blew two double-digit leads in that game, something you can expect not to see again at home tonight.
There are a lot of reasons to emotionally challenge the large eleven point line tonight. The tantalizing storyline of Carmelo, the romanticized idea of the Knicks being a formidable challenger, the sake of some more great televised drama (this first round isn’t giving us as much as many hoped). But the numbers, the empirical data, all supports tonight being a filthy Heat butt-kicking.
The Heat have beaten the Knicks by double-digits three of the four games in this series. They beat them by double digits twice at home in the regular season, and won by eight at New York. In all, they have won six of their last seven, with the average margin of victory in the wins being 14.7 points per contest.
I think the Heat are ready to end this series, especially now that Indiana is sitting in the clubhouse resting up for Round Two. Look for Lebron James to come out physical and offensively assertive early on, and look for him to guard ‘Melo more tonight that he did in Game Four to prevent him from getting on a roll early. I expect the Heat to close out the series and close it out emphatically.
Free Pick: Miami Heat -10.5