Knicks vs. Heat: The best player prop bets for Jan. 26
The New York Knicks are in South Beach to take on their longtime foils tonight. The Miami Heat own the top record in the Eastern Conference and are playing like one of the best teams in the NBA. The Knicks, meanwhile, are maddeningly inconsistent and are beginning to see their playoff hopes fade away.
Can the Knicks turn the tables and pull off an upset? Or will the Heat’s balanced attack and defense add to New York’s woes?
Knicks vs. Heat tips off at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN, and we have the three best player prop bets below.
Thu, January 27 2022, 12:30 AM
JULIUS RANDLE OVER/UNDER 31.5 POINTS, REBOUNDS, AND ASSISTS
Randle is having perhaps the most disappointing season in the NBA. What began as a flameout in the playoffs, has carried over to one of the worst regression seasons in recent memory. After receiving a well-deserved Most Improved Player award, his first All-Star selection, and then a Second Team All-NBA nod, Randle has completely cratered.
Per Jonathan Macri of Knicks Film School, of the players with a usage rate above 26%, Randle’s 46.4 eFG% ranks dead last. He is now officially the least efficient volume scorer in the NBA. And frankly, it’s hurting his effort in every other aspect of his game.
That’s really the story of the season for New York. Occasionally Randle conjures up some of the magic from last season, or the Knicks find a way to win in spite of him dragging the team down. More often than not though, they’re getting beaten by teams that play with greater cohesion, and unless New York can get the Randle of last season back, they are well and truly sunk.
Miami has one of the best defenses in the NBA, and they’ll do everything in their power to exacerbate Randle’s worrying tendency to dribble the air out of the ball and take ill-advised shots.
BAM ADEBAYO OVER/UNDER 4.5 ASSISTS
What a luxury it is to have a player like Bam Adebayo. He’s one of the few bigs that can both protect the rim and capably switch out on the perimeter, while also manufacturing offense for himself and for other players. It’s the latter we’re interested in here, and there’s every reason to expect he’s going to continue to thrive as a playmaker against the Knicks.
While Adebayo is comfortable facilitating from the high post, the lion’s share of his assists come in dribble hand-off action beyond the arc. He sets solid screens, often re-screening and changing the angle just enough to give Duncan Robinson or another Miami guard room to catch and shoot. If opponents overreact, Bam drives into the paint and is a killer short roll passer. It’s simple, but devilishly hard to guard, and the Knicks have struggled to contain bigs that operate outside the paint all season long.
Adding to New York’s woes are their injury concerns. New York might be without both Mitchell Robinson (ankle sprain) and Nerlens Noel (knee soreness) tonight, which leaves either Randle or Taj Gibson the unenviable task of slowing Bam down on the perimeter.
In all likelihood, Adebayo will be able to work his DHO game with impunity tonight.
RJ BARRETT OVER/UNDER 19.5 POINTS
It has been a tale of two seasons for RJ Barrett. While he came out of the gates red hot, he then began a long stretch of listless play that his overall season averages have yet to recover from. Whether you think he was just in a slump, or believe Barrett’s claim that it was a series of illnesses that kept him out of the gym and in poor rhythm, there’s no denying that he’s looked like a different dude since January.
In his last 12 games, RJ is averaging 23.0 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 3.5 assists on 45.2% from the field and 42.4% from deep.
A huge amount of RJ’s work as an offensive player comes in the pick and roll, where he has flashed some serious craft. It helps that he has elite acceleration and deceleration, as measured by P3 sports scientists just prior to the draft. But he doesn’t have great burst, and thus far has struggled to create offense without a screen unless it’s a transition opportunity.
That makes teams that hard hedge or blitz the ball handler a consistent problem for Barrett. Miami is one such team. Whenever Barrett has the ball and calls for a pick, two Heat defenders will push him out past the screen, and he either gives the ball up or risks turning it over. It shows in the numbers too. Barrett has played the Heat five times in his career and is averaging just 9.8 points in those contests.
While Barrett has been on a tear recently, he has yet to prove that he’s found a reliable answer to these hedging defenses. Until he does, they're likely to put a serious dent in his offensive output.