The New York Knicks are in the second round of the NBA playoffs for the first time since 2013, and they have a throwback matchup with the Miami Heat.
These two teams love to play a physical, defensive style that usually results in close, low-scoring games. The Knicks and Heat both ranked in the bottom 10 in the league in pace this season.
New York had four looks at Miami in the regular season, beating the Heat three times, including both games at Madison Square Garden. Since the Heat upset the No. 1-seeded Milwaukee Bucks, the No. 5-seeded Knicks have home court in this series.
Both games at the Garden this season were low scoring, and the Knicks won one of the matchups without Jalen Brunson.
The key for the Knicks is going to be health, as the team has listed starters Julius Randle and Quentin Grimes as questionable for Sunday’s Game 1. Grimes, who practiced fully on Friday, said that he expects to play.
Miami is down Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo in this game, but Jimmy Butler is fresh off an insane playoff performance in the Bucks series that saw him score 56 points in Game 4.
Can he keep that up against the Knicks?
Here are the odds and my best bet for this intriguing Game 1 matchup:
Heat vs. Knicks odds, spread and total
Heat vs. Knicks prediction and pick
The Knicks went UNDER on the total in every game of their first-round series against the Cleveland Cavaliers, and only Game 5 cleared 200 total points between the teams.
The Heat are a similar team to New York and Cleveland in their style of play, but Miami did score a ton of points against the Bucks. It was a major flip from a team that was 25th in the league in offensive rating during the regular season.
Still, I’m not going to overreact to that and take the UNDER in this game.
As I mentioned, these teams ranked 29th (Miami) and 26th (New York) in pace during the regular season, and both games they played at Madison Square Garden were low scoring affairs.
They finished with 210 points on Feb. 2 and 193 points on March 29.
New York’s defense has been much better in the playoffs than it was in the regular season, and I question whether or not Miami’s role players are going to be able to score at a high rate against New York’s scheme.
Butler will likely get his regardless, but overall I expect this game to be played a snail’s pace, leading to the UNDER.
Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.