Feb 28 NBA Action: Miami Heat @ New York Knicks
Miami Heat +1 (-105) @ New York Knicks
Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, New York
February 28, 2016, 4:30PM PST
Our combination computer simulation + power rankings framework gives Miami a slim advantage today (we see the Heat as about a point or so better than the Knicks). As such, we are comfortable backing the traveling Miami Heat to cover at Madison Square Garden this afternoon.
The Celtics 101-89 road win Saturday snapped a four-game cover streak for the Heat. Yesterday's setback, however, does not detract from the strong play Miami has exhibited of late. The Heat are 10-5 against the spread over the last five weeks (9-6 straight up), including a 6-2 run, straight up and versus the number, on the road.
Conversely, the Knicks have enjoyed only three wins and two covers in their last 11 games. Looking back a bit further, since New York rattled off six straight covers in early January, the Big Apple boys have gone 7-14 ATS.
The Knicks did escape Miami with an eight point victory last month (as 7.5 point underdogs), however, that feat required uncharacteristically exceptional team play. NYK, the 23rd-worst team in the NBA by field goal percentage, shot 56% from the field that evening, versus their average connect rate of 44%. Further, Robin Lopez went 9-12 for what was then a season high 19 points. In fact, six New York players contributed nine or more points that evening.
Given that the Heat rank 3rd in points allowed and 8th in defensive efficiency, expecting another evening of dead-eye shooting from New York is probably somewhat analogous to looking for lightning to strike the same place twice. We are betting against such an outcome.
Situational trends too support Miami to cover. While New York took the last meeting, the Heat have owned the head-to-head series between these teams in recent years--covering all four of the 2015 match-ups, as well as the last three contests of 2014. Additionally, consider that Miami is 14-10-1 ATS following a loss, 6-4 in the second game of a back-to-back and 15-13 on the road.
On the other hand, New York is a mediocre 15-16 at MSG, but the team's tendencies following a win and after a night off provide a slight headwind for our pick. Nonetheless, the positive underpinnings for the Heat to cover trump favorable conditions for New York by a fairly wide margin, in our estimation. Accordingly, we are supporting the road cover.