The struggling Knicks face a tough challenge tonight as they head to Miami to take on a surging Heat team.

It doesn’t get any easier for the New York Knicks (23-25), as they take their talents to South Beach tonight to play the Miami Heat (30-17), who currently sit atop the Eastern Conference standings. This evening’s matchup marks the first of three meetings between these two teams who are trending in completely opposite directions.

The Heat have won seven of their last 10 games and possess one of the deepest rosters in the NBA. Miami’s veteran toughness and leadership headlined by Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry, and PJ Tucker combined with their young, ascending talent like Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo makes them a nightmare matchup. Herro, Miami’s leading scorer at 20.7 points per game, exited health and safety protocols yesterday, per Adam Lichtenstein of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, and could suit up tonight. The 22-year-old has taken a quantum leap in year three and is now one of the most formidable young guards in the game.

Leading assist man Kyle Lowry has missed Miami’s last four games for personal reasons and is not expected to play tonight against the Knicks. With Lowry out, Gabe Vincent has provided some solid minutes putting up 12.8 points and  5.5 assists in the Heat’s last four games, per ESPN Stats.

The Knicks listed centers Mitchell Robinson (ankle sprain) and Nerlens Noel (sore knee) as questionable. Tom Thibodeau told reporters on Wednesday morning that Robinson is expected to play, however, per the New York Post‘s Marc Berman.

Despite not being at full strength for most of the season, “Heat Culture” seems to be prevailing, as Miami ranks fourth in the NBA in points allowed and second in three-point shooting percentage, per NBA Stats. Erik Spoelstra has his team rolling, presenting a grueling challenge for the ‘Bockers.

Lack of a Leader

In order to beat a team like the Miami Heat, discipline, consistency, and resilience are definitely necessary. Those traits are often exhibited by a point guard or a floor general who can control the game. Unfortunately, the Knicks do not have a point guard or an established leader who is able to right the ship and keep the other four guys on the floor level-headed, which has been a big reason for the Knicks’ shortcomings this season.

As much as Kemba Walker’s homecoming is beloved, at this point, he is too inconsistent to be that guy. Immanuel Quickley has regressed and isn’t fit for that role at this point. Derrick Rose is the one who most closely resembles a floor general, but he is sidelined with an injury and is limited talent-wise due to the wear and tear on his body and his age.

Miami has the ability to beat a team in multiple different ways, whether it be three-point barrages from Duncan Robinson and Herro among others, or just straight up punching you in the mouth with guys like Butler, Adebayo, etc. The multi-dimensional attack from the Heat could spell disaster for a team like the Knicks, who look leader-less and lost this season. If the Knicks want to stay competitive and potentially win, they are going to have to come out aggressive and their big guns like Julius Randle and RJ Barrett need to display intensity and good decision making. “Bully Ball” was a theme for the Knicks much of last season, and maybe Randle can win some fans back if he comes out with that mentality and puts his team on his back tonight.

PRIZEPICKS OF THE NIGHTS

The Knicks Wall’s exclusive partnership with PrizePicks presents the picks of the night. Tonight, Julius Randle is projected at 31.5 combined points, rebounds, and assists while Heat forward PJ Tucker is projected for 13.5 in that same metric. Randle averages slightly greater than that projection and his season splits in three matchups with the Heat last season yielded an average of 20.0 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 4.3 assists. We’re looking at Randle securing rebounds and hitting “over” while keeping Tucker “under” his projection.

Use promo code “TKW” and take advantage of a 100% deposit match, up to $100, with The Knicks Wall’s partnership with PrizePicks.

Ice Cold

In three matchups last season against Miami, the Knicks went 0-3 and were held to 95.7 points per game, per Land of Basketball. Overall, the Knicks have dropped seven of eight to their Eastern Conference rival, with their last win coming over two years ago, on January 12th, 2020, with the Knicks winning 124-121 at MSG.

Tip-off this evening is at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN along with MSG Network and Bally Sports Sun.

 

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