The Miami Heat and New York Knicks will enter tonight with 6-4 records over their last ten games. The two teams in the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff race will meet tonight in Miami, and we’ll preview the game before going over why I’m targeting a first-half moneyline bet in this one.
The Knicks saw a three-game win streak end in their most recent game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. That game was arguably the first time since the All-Star break that the Knicks' defense was nonexistent, as they allowed 140 points on 61% shooting from the field. That loss made the Knicks' defensive rating look much worse than it truly is, as New York has held eight of their 13 opponents since the break to 112 points or less.
New York is still fifth in the league in NET rating in the second half of the season. Julius Randle, who is coming off a career-high 57 points in the loss to Minnesota, has helped lead this team to the fourth-best offensive efficiency rating since the break. Not only are the Knicks among the best in offensive rating, but they are also ranked 7th in effective field goal percentage and true shooting percentage in that span.
Those impressive shooting numbers were able to help carry New York to a win over Miami the last time these teams met back on March 3rd. In the 122-120 win, the Knicks shot 58% from the field and 41% from three, as Julius Randle led the way with 43 points. Defensive performances like that have led the Heat to be ranked 23rd in defensive efficiency rating in the second half of the season.
Miami has struggled to put it together on both ends of the floor, as their -3.2 NET rating is also 23rd in the NBA since the break. The Heat will, however, enter tonight off a win over the Pistons, in which they held Detroit to just 100 points. It does help that Detroit is 29th in offensive efficiency since the break, so the Heat will be up for much more of a challenge tonight.
The Heat are favored by (-1.5) tonight, but for my play in this one, I’ll be targeting the Knicks 1H moneyline at (-102). New York is the best first-half ATS team in the league this season and has the third-best outright 1H record at 45-28. The Heat have not had the same success in the first half, as they are 34-36-3 straight up and the third least profitable ATS team in the 1H.
In the two teams' most recent meeting, which was also in Miami, the Knicks went into halftime leading by 14 points, despite also being listed as underdogs in that matchup. The numbers show New York is a far more efficient team in the first half of games, especially since the break, as the Knicks' 7.9 NET rating in the 1H is the 4th best in the league, while the Heat’s -8.8 NET rating is 26th.
New York has proven they can get out of the gate much more efficiently on both ends of the floor, especially in terms of shooting. Since the break, the Knicks are 6th in 1H field goal percentage and 7th in three-point percentage, while Miami is 24th and 26th in those categories, respectively. I’ve hit two straight 1H NBA bets, and both of those games had very similar statistical differentials to this matchup.
New York Knicks 1H (-102)