The No. 8 Miami Heat will head north for Game 1 against the No. 5 New York Knicks to begin their Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series at Madison Square Garden on Sunday. New York enters this matchup as the higher seed, and is the favorite to win the series against Miami at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Knicks vs. Heat predictions
Odds to win series: Knicks -140, Heat +120
Regular season record: Knicks 47-35, Heat 44-38
Head-to-head record: Knicks 3-1
The Knickerbockers got the better of the Heat in three out of four contests through the 2022-23 regular season. In the second meeting of the year, New York was able to win narrowly in Miami 122-120. In the lone Heat victory over New York this year, Miami held off the Knicks 127-120 behind Jimmy Butler’s 35 points. Fast-forward to now, and Butler is pacing everyone by averaging 37.6 points per game in the 2023 NBA playoffs. I think Heat-Knicks will be a really fun, physical matchup.
Pick: Heat in 7 games
Admittedly, this one is quite close. I was one of the fools who took Cleveland over New York in the opening round, and subsequently learned the hard way that this Knicks team is here to do damage. Leaning toward New York’s playoff woes in recent years, I had the Knicks pegged wrong.
Since then, the Knicks went on to shellack the Cavs behind Jalen Brunson’s 24 points per game to lead all scorers in the series. Also, Julius Randle played well for New York at times, but prematurely exited the final game against Cleveland. Without a healthy Randle, Miami could be prove troublesome for New York.
Butler and the Heat have done well to take over the headlines and highlight shows of late. On the heels of eliminating Milwaukee 4-1, they are only the sixth No. 8 seed ever to defeat a No. 1 seed in the first-round seven-game-series. Additionally, the 2022-23 Heat are the first play-in tournament team to advance to the conference semifinals. Notably, Butler averaged nearly 40 pgg in the first round against the Bucks, including a franchise playoff record 56 points in Game 4.
Bam Adebayo and Gabe Vincent played well in supporting roles, especially after losing Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo to injuries early in the series. Like New York, Miami is coached well and plays physical. But right now, Butler simply has that playoff “look” in his eye—one that I have only seen on the hardwood in my lifetime from (dare me to say it) Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan.
If Randle can’t go at full strength for New York, I like the Heat to grind this series out and win in seven.