Miami Heat: AUCH Roundtable on preferred first-round opponent scenario

Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro (14) drives to the net against New York Knicks guard Derrick Rose (4)(Mike Stobe/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports)
Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro (14) drives to the net against New York Knicks guard Derrick Rose (4)(Mike Stobe/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Miami Heat
Austin Rivers #8 and Elfrid Payton #6 of the New York Knicks defends against Jimmy Butler #22 of the Miami Heat(Mike Stobe/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Miami Heat would matchup well with a few teams in the playoffs, but which is the preferred matchup?

The more I look at a potential Miami Heat vs. Milwaukee Bucks first-round clash, the more I hate it. The Bucks are a far better team from behind the arc (2nd in the league) than last season, which means slowing Giannis Antetokounmpo will not be enough to flummox the offense of the Cream City squad.

Colton Molesky (@CMoleskyNBC15) – New York Knicks

However, the Heat are just a game back from stealing away the 5th seed from the Atlanta Hawks. Overtaking them would yield a first-round matchup with the New York Knicks.

The gritty squad from the Big Apple ranks 25th in points per game and 17th in offensive rating. Even the Knicks’ daunting third-place rank in three-point percentage is balanced out by the fourth-fewest threes attempted.

Related Story. Taking A Look At Potential First Round Playoff Opponents. light

The rumors are true; this is a defensive-minded team comfortable with a rock fight and the perfect team for Miami to get in the trenches with for an opening-round battle. Miami ranks in the top-10 in defensive rating and opponent turnovers, along with forcing the sixth-worst field goal percentage from the opposition.

The Heat also matchup far better with the size of the Knicks. The pairing of Mitchell Robinson and Nerlens Noel was a pleasant surprise for New York, especially on defense.

Now, Robinson is out and Noel is still a defensive asset, but won’t win any playoff games with his scoring. That means the “big” that the Heat really needs to watch is Julius Randle.

Randle is the most improved player in the league and will likely get some MVP votes (as a Randle stockholder, I have enjoyed watching that asset accrue value), but so much of the offense is dependant on him that Miami can scheme ways to throw a wrench in the works.

Miami can use its length to cover doubles, switches, and create chaos for the New York offense. A team ill-equipped to outlast an offensive barrage will struggle with the shooting the Heat can produce on a given night.

Give me the Heat in six against the Knicks, as the best case for round one.