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NBA expert Jonathan Macri is here with his predictions and picks for Sunday's action between the Sacramento Kings vs. Miami Heat and Raptors vs. Knicks.

Sacramento Kings vs. Miami Heat Prediction: Trust Miami on the Road

When: Sunday, January 2, 6:00 pm ET

Where to Watch: NBA League Pass

Spread: Heat -3.5

Total: 222.5

Click Here for Kings vs Heat Odds

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Ever since they began the year 6-1 and had the look of a conference superpower, the Miami Heat have had anything but a clean season.

Thanks to being beset by injuries and watching key players get placed in protocols, they’ve been flat-out inconsistent for most of the season. During the stretch from November 4 to December 19, they accumulated just as many wins as losses with a negative 1.1 net rating that ranked 18th in the league over that stretch.

It’s clear now that we should take that six-week stretch with several grains of salt. Jimmy Butler played in only half of those contests and Tyler Herro in just 18. All but five players were available for less than 20 of the 24 games.

Now heading into this matchup with the Kings, the Heat still aren’t whole – Bam Adebayo will be out for several more weeks, while rotation players Duncan Robinson, P.J. Tucker, Gabe Vincent, and Max Strus are likely to remain in protocols for Sunday’s action. On the bright side, Butler is very much back, having just put up a season-high 37 points on just 21 shots. He’s joined by Herro and offseason signee Kyle Lowry as healthy go’s for this game, in which Miami will be looking for its sixth straight win and ninth in 10 games. In other words, they’re hitting the second half stride they’ve become known for as an organization.

The Kings are very much a different story. They’ve dropped eight of 12 outright and against the spread. Their most recent loss – a 16-point home defeat at the hands of the Luka-less Mavs – prompted head coach Alvin Gentry to offer his latest postgame gem, saying that if anyone needed him when the ball dropped at midnight, he’d be home drinking. Who can blame him?

Sacramento has the talent to beat Miami while it’s still missing players, but they’ve rarely shown the heart to pull off such an upset. Give the points on the road.

Kings vs. Heat Pick

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Toronto Raptors vs. New York Knicks Prediction

When: 3:30 pm ET

Where to Watch: NBA League Pass/MSG Network

Click Here For Raptors vs Knicks Odds

Is this the beginning of the end of this Knicks season? Or is it about to morph into something not necessarily worse, but different, and perhaps for the betterment of the long-term health of the organization?

New York heads into this game two games under .500 and clinging to the 10th seed in the East. As other teams ahead of them have caught their stride, an outright playoff berth now seems highly unlikely. The key rotation players who were supposed to elevate them to that goal this season – Julius Randle, Kemba Walker, Derrick Rose, and Mitchell Robinson – are all out today, while Even Fournier is questionable.

Fournier and Robinson played on Friday night, but they couldn’t help the mostly young Knick leftovers crack the 80-point mark in their lowest scoring output of the year. The Thunder, meanwhile, had perhaps their best shooting performance from deep on the season.

The disparity was stark, but also a bit random. The Knicks entered the game as a top-10 team in 3-point shooting accuracy while OKC was dead last. New York got a bunch of great looks that just missed, perhaps evidence of how unnerved they were playing without Randle (protocols) for the first game all season.

Toronto, meanwhile, is finally healthy after being decimated by COVID and seeing three of their last seven games postponed. They’ve historically been a team who gives the Knicks problems even when New York is whole, and soundly beat them at MSG earlier this season in one of the early warning signs that all was not well in Gotham.

I’d expect more shots to go down for the road team tonight, but with a glaring absence of shot creators, even getting the most points they’ve seen on a line all season, it’s tough to pick against the home team. Probably best to stay away, but it’s the Raptors if you must.

Raptors vs. Knicks Pick

Article Author


Dean of Knicks Film School, host: KFS Pod, co-host: Pick N Pod. There isn't much about Knicks basketball that Jonathan doesn't know and he's here to break down the big games each and every week.

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