Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 12/5/12
Not that the Heat ever need much motivation to get up for the Knicks. But now theyve got plenty of it. New York walloped Miami 104-84 during the seasons first week. And the Heat are coming off their most embarrassing loss in a while, a 105-101 setback Tuesday at Washington. Its a good time for it, Miami guard Dwyane Wade said of Thursdays game at AmericanAirlines Arena against New York. The Heat limped home from Washington in the wee hours of the morning and didnt practice Wednesday. They played Tuesday without starting forward Shane Battier, who has missed three straight with a sprained right knee, and top reserve point guard Norris Cole, who has a mild groin strain. They also lost starting point Mario Chalmers for the game midway through the second quarter due to a jammed left ring finger. Its unclear who might be ready to go Thursday. But whatever issues the Heat might have, its nothing that has dulled their excitement about another battle with their biggest rival. (The Knicks are) a team that is looking to get to a point where they can win a championship, and were trying to defend our championship, said forward LeBron James, who knows he will have to run the point plenty if injuries continue to hamper Chalmers or Cole. It will be electrifying in our arena. We know that it always is with the Knicks and the Heat, and well see what happens. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra wondered after Tuesdays game if perhaps it might have taken a loss for the Heat (12-4) to wake up after having flirted with danger for a few weeks while needing late-game comebacks to beat three lesser teams. Facing New York in a nationally televised game on TNT might also work well as a wake-up call for the Heat, which mostly has been hampered by shoddy defense. New York dominated Miami Nov. 2 at Madison Square Garden in an emotional game held several days after Hurricane Sandy had wreaked havoc on the area. The Knicks (13-4) won 100-98 Wednesday at Charlotte to take over sole possession of the best record in the East. We know that theyll be motivated coming into our building, Spoelstra said. But what about the Heat? They were pushed around five weeks ago by the Knicks. Its a measuring stick for us because theyre one of the top teams in the East, Miami forward Udonis Haslem said. New York definitely got the Heats attention in that early-season meeting. The Knicks are no longer the pushovers they were last season, when the Heat won seven of eight meetings, including a 4-1 win in an Eastern Conference first-round series. Forward Carmelo Anthony, who entered Wednesday second in the NBA in scoring with a 26.6 average, is continuing to find his niche with New York, which hasnt missed not having forward Amare Stoudemire yet this season due to a knee injury. Anthonys player-efficiency rating of 24.4 is on pace to be the best of his career and and ranks eighth in the NBA. James is first at 28.2. Its a battle built for good television ratings. James has the top-selling jersey in the NBA and the Knicks peddle more jerseys than any other NBA team. It will be a good game for us coming off a loss and being back at home, Wade said. Its a game we all look forward to. We want to play better. Yes, the Heat might be banged up. But it's still a very good time to face New York. Chris Tomasson can be reached at christomasson@hotmail.com or on Twitter @christomasson
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