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Knicks Looking To Stay Alive, Visit Heat

A banged-up Carmelo Anthony will hope to lead the Knicks to a victory over the Heat on Sunday.

A banged-up Carmelo Anthony will hope to lead the Knicks to a victory over the Heat on Sunday.

The New York Knicks will look to keep their unlikely hopes of a playoff berth alive Sunday as they face a matinee game on the road against the defending champions, the Miami Heat.

Tip-off at American Airlines Arena in Miami is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET.

With five games left to play, New York (33-44, 16-22 road) is walking a precarious tightrope between success and failure.

A game back of the eighth-placed Atlanta Hawks, the Knicks are looking increasingly unlikely to secure the Eastern Conference’s one remaining playoff berth. The Hawks own the tiebreaker between the sides, have two more games to play, and have the easier schedule. All of this essentially means the Knicks need to practically win out to stand any chance, or get a ton of help from elsewhere.

At this stage, Mike Woodson will be forced to take it one game at a time, beginning with Sunday’s matchup against the champs.

The Knicks enter the game on the back of a tough loss to the playoff-bound Washington Wizards on Friday. A shoulder injury limited Carmelo Anthony’s output in that clash at Madison Square Garden, but the forward was quick to shoulder the blame. He’s expected to go on Sunday, but if he’s at anything less than 100 percent, the Knicks could be in huge trouble.

Friday’s loss snapped the Knicks’ three-game winning streak and saw Woodson’s side move to 4-4 over the last eight. They’ll need to do much better than that over the next 10 days.

A trip to Miami might offer a lifeline however. The Knicks have won seven of their last nine games away from Madison Square Garden, a trend that has been hugely influential in seeing the side stay alive this late in the season.

That trend comes with an asterisk also. Of those seven wins, only one – an 89-84 victory over the Golden State Warriors a week ago – came against a team with a winning record. But the Knicks can take some comfort in knowing that two of their last three trips to South Beach have ended in success. They’ve also defeated the Heat once already this season.

Miami (52-23, 30-7 home) has a whole different set of problems heading down the stretch.

The Heat is currently tied with the Indiana Pacers at the top of the Eastern Conference, and with a pair of games in hand, will be confident they can emerge with the coveted No. 1 seed when the playoffs begin in a fortnight.

That being said, the Pacers have an easier schedule on paper and this could easily come down to which team wins this Friday’s final head-to-head meeting of the regular season.

Miami is also looking to get healthy before the playoffs begin. Dwayne Wade (hamstring) and Greg Oden (back) have both missed the last five games, and are questionable for Sunday afternoon’s game. Both could be influential once the Heat begins its playoff run, so Eric Spoelstra will be hoping for an impressive performance from the training staff.

The Heat came undone against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday, losing a double-overtime decision at American Airlines Arena. That loss snapped a four-game winning streak and a run of five home wins. If Miami is to earn a No. 1 seed, it can’t afford losses like these, something LeBron James and Co. will be all too well aware of.

The Heat will look to make it three wins in a row against the Knicks when the two sides take to the hardwood. The Heat earned a 106-91 victory in Manhattan on February 1 before thumping the Knicks 108-82 in Miami on February 27.

New York Knicks vs. Miami Heat odds for 04/06/2014

As expected, New York opened as the underdog with Miami expected to leave this one with a clean victory.

Miami has won 10 of its last 13 games against New York and 17 of the last 24. But the Heat will be well aware of the potential danger the Knicks offer, both to the result of this game and Miami’s hopes of securing top spot in the East.

The spread opened at 6.5 and climbed immediately to 7.

Miami (37-37-1 ATS) has covered the spread as many times as not this season, while New York (34-43-0 ATS) has struggled mightily against the spread.

Both teams have fared well against the spread of late though, with the Knicks covering in four of the last six and the Heat covering in five of the last six.

New York is 2-4-1 ATS in its last seven visits to Miami, and trails 1-2-0 ATS in the head-to-head series this season.

The total opened at 192 and has dropped considerably to 187.

Both New York (42-35-0) and Miami (40-35-0) have seen the over pay out more often than not this season, but all three head-to-head matchups have seen the under cash in this season, a trend that has also been seen in four of the last five head-to-head meetings.

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