Miami Heat vs. New York Knicks Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Miami Heat (14-12 SU, 13-13 ATS) vs. New York Knicks (11-17 SU,
14-14 ATS), 12:00 p.m. EST, Friday, December 25, 2009, Madison Square Garden,
New York, N.Y. TV: ESPN

by Ryno of

Point Spread: Heat +2/Knicks -2
Over/Under: 199

The Christmas NBA action gets underway at Madison Square Garden where the
Knicks will host the Miami Heat.

The Heat are coming off a six-game home stand in which they finished with
a 3-3 record that included wins in three of their last four games. They
haven’t played a road game since winning in Sacramento on December
6. The Heat won their last game, 80-70 against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday.
As usual, Dwyane Wade carried the load for the Heat with 29 points, seven
rebounds and five assists. Quentin Richardson (11 points) and Udonis Haslem
(12 points, 11 rebounds) also were key players in the victory for the Heat.

In each of their last three wins, the Heat held their opponents to less
than 33 percent shooting from 3-point territory. That will once again be
the key against the Knicks, a team that likes to shoot a lot of 3-pointers.
The Knicks have made at least 11 3-pointers and/or shot at least 40 percent
from beyond the arc in six of their last eight wins. They combined to shoot
26-for-51 on 3-pointers in consecutive wins over the Trail Blazers and Hornets.
In a 98-89 loss to the Bulls, the Knicks were 16-for-47 from beyond the
arc. Clearly, the key for the Knicks is knocking down outside shots.

Despite shooting so many 3-pointers, the Knicks only have one player who
is shooting better than 36 percent from 3-point land. That is one of the
main reasons the Knicks have only an 11-17 record this season. Danilo Gallinari
is that one player, leading the team with 75 made 3-pointers in 27 games
and a 41 percent mark from beyond the arc. Gallinari, Al Harrington, Wilson
Chandler, Larry Hughes and Chris Duhon are all attempting more than three
3-point attempts per game.

If the Knicks could score points inside, they may not be as prone to jack
up as many 3-point attempts. David Lee is the only real post player for
the Knicks. He is averaging 18 points and nearly 11 rebounds per game. Harrington
and Gallinari also are capable of scoring down low, but both of them would
rather shoot most of their shots from deep. With Lee as the only Knick willing
to stay near the basket primarily, it makes it difficult for them to score
much down low. With Jermaine O’Neal and Udonis Haslem defending for
the Heat, it will make it even more difficult for Lee. The Heat should easily
win the battle in the paint with O’Neal, Haslem, Michael Beasley and
Wade all willing to attack the basket.

Of course, the key to stopping the Heat is stopping Wade, who is averaging
26.7 points, 6.1 assists and 5.1 rebounds per game. Wade is shooting only
24.7 percent from 3-point range, so the Knicks should try to force him into
shooting a lot of jumpers by sending help defense any time he takes his
defender off the dribble. When Wade gets in the lane, he’s able to
score a lot of points or dish off to open teammates for easy baskets.

The Knicks have won three straight games, all at home, and have won six
straight home games. Their last home loss was a 114-102 loss to the Magic
on November 29. The last three wins have come over the Bulls, Bobcats and
Clippers, all by seven points or less.

After announcing his retirement because of injuries in 2005 and taking
more than a four-year hiatus, 7-foot forward Jonathan Bender was signed
by the Knicks and has played in the last three games for them. He scored
a combined 20 points in 14 minutes per game in his first two games before
scoring two points in eight minutes in the last game.

The Knicks are 6-3 ATS in their last nine games and 5-1 ATS in their last
six home games. The total has gone under in each of New York’s last
five games. The Heat are 4-1 ATS in their last five road games and 4-2 ATS
in their last six games against the Knicks. The total has gone over in six
of Miami’s last seven road games and in each of their last five games
against the Knicks.

Ryno’s Pick: Based on past history, this game should
be rather high-scoring, as each of the last five meetings between these
two teams has gone over the total. The Heat aren’t playing bad lately,
but the Knicks have been unbeatable this month at home. Even the games they
lost in November at home were close ones against good teams. The Knicks
have won six straight at home and the streak shouldn’t stop here.
Miami probably isn’t happy about having to work on Christmas, while
the Knicks are able to play this game and then go home to their families
for the rest of the day. Take the Knicks -2.