The Knicks and Heat are coming off of impressive yet shocking 4-1 series victories, they are set to face off in their own best-of-seven matchup.
Heat vs Knicks Rivalry Restored
The Knicks and Heat met in four consecutive playoffs from 1997-2000 and each one was a very intense and physical battle. Fast forward to 2023, there is no reason to believe we should expect any different results this time around.
The Heat, led by Jimmy Butler, just dismantled Giannis Antetokounmpo and the No. 1-seeded Bucks in a five-game series. The Bucks were viewed as the favorites to emerge out of the Eastern Conference, but the Heat had other plans.
Jimmy Butler averaged a miraculous 37.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 4.8 assists during the series. He did everything in his power to will the Heat to victory and his reputation as a playoff performer cannot be overlooked.
Similar to the Heat, the Knicks won their series in surprising fashion. In what was expected to be one of the most up-for-grabs series of the opening round, the Cavaliers simply looked depleted and defeated by the end of the series versus the Knicks.
Jalen Brunson’s ability to carry the offense combined with the depth of the Knicks’ roster, and their physicality on the defensive end ultimately became too much for an inexperienced Cavaliers team to overcome.Both teams have plenty of momentum heading into Game 1 of this series and will be looking to send a message.
Julius Randle’s Health is Key
The biggest storyline surrounding Game 1 is the availability of Knicks All-Star Forward Julius Randle. He aggravated his left ankle in the Knicks’ Game 5 victory over the Cavaliers, the same ankle he sprained roughly a month ago. The injury was one of several reasons the Knicks beat the Cavs.
As of this writing, Julius Randle is questionable for Sunday’s Game 1. Although, comments made by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski seemed to be a little less optimistic. With conflicting reports and a quick turnaround, it would be wise to assume the Knicks err on the side of caution with their star player considering this is a reaggravation.
With that being said, the Knicks are currently listed as 4-point favorites via DraftKings Sportsbook. Both teams have won four of their last five games outright while also covering the spread in their four wins.
The Knicks are hosting and playing in their first Eastern Conference semifinal playoff game in a decade, so you can assume the fans will be ready to make their presence felt.
In addition to the possibility of Julius Randle’s return, the Knicks are also hopeful that Quentin Grimes will be ready to suit up on Sunday. His three-point shooting and perimeter defense will provide a much-needed boost for the Knicks heading into Game 1.
Knicks/Heat Game 1 Prediction
Back the Knicks to defend Madison Square Garden with an emphatic victory against the Heat in Game 1. The fans are hungry and the team is prepared to match that energy.
My Pick: New York Knicks -4 (-110 odds via DraftKings Sportsbook)
Mark your calendars NYC ✍️ pic.twitter.com/7T0ejpXdEd
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) April 29, 2023