In the midst of the Miami Heat’s 27-game winning streak, it looked pretty clear that no team was going to be able to touch them come playoff time.
And while that may still end up being true in the end, the New York Knicks turned enough heads over the last month of the season to at least get people thinking again.
The fact they are 5-2 in their past seven games against the Heat provides even more food for thought for handicappers who feel Miami will cruise to a second title. But before they face the Heat, they must deal with old nemesis Boston.
En route to winning the NBA scoring title, Carmelo Anthony led the New York Knicks to the conference’s second seed with a 54-28 SU and 46-35-1 against-the-spread record. The Knicks caught fire in the middle of March, stringing together 13 straight wins with only one ATS loss.
Overall, the Knicks enter the playoffs as one of the hottest teams in basketball on a 16-2 SU and 15-3 ATS run, and are going off at 16-to-1 to win the NBA championship. New York was minus-350 favorites to win the series at several sportsbooks, while the Knicks would pay plus-290 for the upset.
Last season, the Boston Celtics pushed the Miami Heat to their limits in a memorable seven-game series in the Eastern Conference Finals. This year, they will be lucky to get out of the first round, according to NBA analyst David Sheldon.
The Celtics went a mediocre 41-40 SU and 37-41-3 ATS this season, struggling all year and then receiving a dagger when Rajon Rondo went down with a season-ending injury.
While New York enters the playoffs scorching, Boston is just 5-11 SU and 6-10 ATS over its last 16 games. The Celtics are a 60-to-1 longshot to win the championship.
Boston dominated the Knicks in head-to-head competition for years, but this year’s Knicks team has put an end to that with three straight wins both SU and ATS, according to the OddsShark.com matchup report.
While all signs point to a very manageable series for the Knicks, the playoff experience and the pride on the Boston Celtics side cannot be understated. It is hard to see a team with this much veteran leadership going down without at least a little bit of a fight.
The series starts on Saturday and the Knicks are a 7.5-point favorite at home. The total is set at 193 points.
Prediction: Knicks in six games