No matter the site you check, or where you get your trusted intel from, you’ll find the same answer all across the board: the New York Knicks will beat the Miami Heat and get to the Eastern Conference Finals.
That’s what has been percolating through the last couple of days after both the Knicks and the Heat defeated their first-round foes in Cleveland and Milwaukee and set up their semifinals matchup.
All experts interviewed by The Athletic picked the Knicks in six
In their annual, series-to-series tradition, The Athletic ($) anonymously interviewed a handful of experts—a scout, a coach, and a team executive—to get their opinion on the strongest team entering the second round between New York and Miami. And the collective thought is legitimately painted in Orange and Blue.
Here are some of the thoughts the experts shared with the folks from The Athletic.
“I think the Knicks have more depth. Plus, they’ll have home-court advantage, which certainly matters in Game 7, and just generally, I think it matters. The Garden crowd is going to go nuts.” — Scout: NYK in six.
“I’m going to go with New York. I’m just going to go with the size, and Brunson tips the scales for me. I think it’s really an even matchup. I’m still going to go with New York. I think New York is on a roll. Between Brunson and the addition of Josh Hart, since they got him they are rolling.” — Coach: NYK in six.
“I’m going with New York. Home-court advantage, baby. I think they’ll do a better job on Jimmy Butler defensively (than Milwaukee), and I think New York is that team playing well at the right time of the season. I think (the coaching matchup) is a push. You have Spoelstra, and how much more proven can he be? And Thibs is Thibs, with all his quirky things about him, but the guy can flat-out coach.” — Exec: NYK in six.
Prediction systems (FiveThirtyEight, ESPN) give New York the edge over Miami
When it comes to prediction systems, FiveThirtyEight’s model gives both the Knicks and the Heat an even 50 percent chance of advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals when using the forecast based on RAPTOR player ratings.
However, when using the ELO-based forecast, the Knicks are the favorites by a sizable gap with a 66% chance of beating the Heat in their semifinals matchup. The ELO model also gives New York a 20% chance of advancing to the Finals and a not-so-small 12% chance of winning the whole thing.
According to this last model, the Knicks are in possession of the largest odds of advancing through the Conference Semifinals (66% vs. MIA), although their chances of advancing to the Finals drop all the way down to the fourth-lowest (20% vs. BOS/PHI) among the nine teams still playing for the chip through Friday.
ESPN’s Basketball Power Index is even more bullish on the Knicks chances of beating Miami. So much so, in fact, that ESPN is actually giving New York the third-largest odds (13.6%) of lifting the Larry O’B next June.
According to BPI, New York has a 92% chance of beating Miami and a 20.3% chance of defeating whoever comes out alive from the BOS/PHI matchup on the Eastern Conference bracket.
Considering Boston (33.2%) and Philadelphia (36.5%), if the Knicks can make it to the Finals, then they’ll boast astonishing large odds of winning the championship as ESPN’s system sees it. No team playing on the Western side of the bracket boasts a chance of winning the title larger than Los Angeles’ 7.5% as of this writing, with the Lakers having just eliminated the Grizzlies 4-1 on Friday.
The Ringer’s Odds Machine agrees with FiveThirtyEight’s and ESPN’s systems nearly perfectly. While it favors Denver over Philadelphia to win the championship, The Ringer’s model still predicts the Knicks to have more than 75% odds of beating the Heat.
Not only that, but it gives New York a solid 32% chance of beating whoever it is between BOS/PHI and nearly a 20% chance of lifting the chip. Miami, meanwhile, has diminishing 23%/5%/1% probabilities of advancing through the remainder of the playoffs on their way to what would be their fourth banner.
Most experts are siding with New York in their matchup with Miami
A bunch of media outlets have released their picks for the upcoming second-round matchups, including the Knicks vs. Heat tipping off on Sunday at MSG.
There is an evenly split opinion among CBS’ writers, with four picking the Knicks and four more siding with Miami for their second-write matchup. All writers except one picked the Celtics to beat the 76ers in the other Eastern Conference second-round matchup.
Sporting News polled seven writers and four of them picked the Knicks over the Heat—all except one predict a 4-2 series victory by New York; the other one envisions a 4-3 thriller.
New York is also the betting favorite
According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Knicks are the betting favorite to clinch the Eastern Conference Semi-finals entering Sunday’s Game 1.
The Knicks are -165 betting favorites to win the series against the Heat, while they will also open the matchup as a -4 favorite to get Game 1 at MSG and go 1-0 up in the series vs. Miami.
New York already defeated the Heat three times through the regular season only losing one of the games they played against Miami with the last clash between the two taking place as late as March 29, when Julius Randle first sprained his left ankle.