The first round of the NBA Playoffs get underway on Saturday as the seventh-seeded New York Knicks travel to Florida to take on the second seed Miami Heat. The game is scheduled for a 3:30 pm start time and it will be televised live on ABC. Currently the odds have Miami favored by 8.5 points with the total sitting at 186.5 points for the contest.
Free Analysis: LeBron James and Dwyane Wade lead the Heat in what they hope to be a return trip to the NBA Finals. This year, however, the Heat are hoping the Finals go a bit differently. That quest begins on Saturday afternoon as the second-seeded Miami Heat welcome in the seventh seed New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference. "We're all looking forward to the challenge again," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "And what we did was recommit to an unknowable future. There's more than a handful of teams that feel exactly like us right now, that feel like they have a legitimate chance to contend for a title. Nothing is guaranteed. We understand that. But what can be guaranteed is our commitment to each other and to this journey." The Heat beat the Knicks in all three matchups this season, but New York did end the season on a hot note, winning 18 of their last 24 games overall. Between 1997 and 2000 the two squads played in four straight pretty heated playoff series' which saw each of them have Game 1 in Miami, which is no different than this series. All four of those series went 7 games with Miami winning the first and the Knicks closing out the final three. Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, who will battle with LeBron on both ends of the court, will obviously have to have a huge series for the Knicks to be competitive. Knicks center Tyson Chandler was on the Maverick team that won the NBA title last year and has played well for the squad this season. Amare Stoudemire played in only four games during the last month or so of the season for the Knicks, battling back injuries the entire year. He said the team is ready to go and looking forward to playing the Heat in the First Round. "We've got a keen sense of what we've got to do to win," he said. "Easier said than done, but preparations have been great. Everybody's studying. So we're good to go." The Heat are favored to win the series at -1100 vs. the Knicks +800 (implying 90% chance Heat advance).
Free Pick: I like the Heat in the series and I like the Heat in Game 1. The Knicks finally started playing well down the stretch but Miami is a team that plays defense and has two of the best scorers in the league. Miami got to the NBA Finals last year and wasn't able to complete the mission of winning a trophy. This season the team seems to have its entire focus on winning that trophy and I think they'll get there. I don't think there's a team in the Eastern Conference (Bulls included) that is going to be able to stop Miami this year and I'm anticipating them making it back to the Finals.
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Betting Strategies: Handicapping NBA PlayoffsHost Marco D'Angelo and Pregame Pro Vegas Runner discuss their strategies about betting the NBA Playoffs and being successful.