Pre Game News and Notes
New York Knicks vs. Miami Heat
After a thrilling victory Wednesday night in Charlotte, the Knicks are right back at it with the second game of a back-to-back in Miami against Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and the Heat. The Heat, like the Knicks, are undefeated at home this season making for a great match-up between two of the top teams currently in the NBA. Hopefully the match-up everyone wants to see in Carmelo Anthony vs. Lebron James comes to fruition. Here are some things to watch for tonight:
The Knicks come into the game with the biggest question mark of all; will Carmelo Anthony suit up? Anthony suffered a laceration on his left middle finger Wednesday night diving into the bench and received six stitches on the wound. If Anthony is unable to go the Knicks better bring their A game on defense because points will be hard to come by without their leading man.
The Heat are not without injuries, as their lineup will have drastic changes if Mario Chalmers (torn finger tendon) and Norris Cole (strained groin) both do not suit up. Lebron James will most likely handle point guard duties full time if neither guard can suit up, as both are game time decisions.
The Heat may also be without Udonis Haslem (hip pointer), leaving an already lacking Heat team dangerously thin up front.
Depending on which players actually make it to game time able to play, the schemes and game plans could change drastically. Whichever coach can adjust and adapt to the conditions best will put their team in the better position to come out on top.
-Make the Most of Advantages
The Knicks best lineups thus far this season have been their small-ball lineups in which they employ more players on the court to stretch the floor. The Heat generally play smaller, but with the injuries to their point guards they could get even smaller upfront if James has to run the offense himself.
As the Knicks have succeeded with the smaller lineups, it may be beneficial tonight to go big at some point. Tyson Chandler has been dominating in recent games and should continue his hot streak tonight as he will be matched up with Chris Bosh most of the night. Rasheed Wallace should find his way to the paint more often as well and resist from floating out to the three point line. The Heat do not have the size to contend with both Chandler and Wallace if they are on the court together
-Pick and Roll Game
If Anthony is unable to suit up, the pick-and-roll game becomes that much more important for the Knicks. Raymond Felton has been playing masterfully since his debacle against the Nets, not turning the ball over in two consecutive games since his time with the Bobcats.
Felton and Chandler have been on fire recently, running the pick-and-roll to perfection. Felton remains under control, knocking down jumpers or taking it to the rim himself or throwing lobs to Chandler, who always finishes, evident of his 72.1 percent shooting on the season.
The pick-and-roll game is also run well by Pablo Prigioni, who is adapting well to the NBA game after playing overseas his whole career previously. Prigioni works it will with Wallace and Chris Copeland, who we could see a lot of on the court tonight if Anthony doesn’t suit up and with Marcus Camby dealing with plantar fasciitis.
-Come with Intensity
Tonight is a nationally televised game so you know the Heat and their fans will come into the game fired up and ready to go; it is imperative the Knicks match that intensity and fire right from the start.
The Heat have undoubtedly had this game circled on their calendars since the Knicks gave them a whooping on opening night at the Garden. They will come out ready to play and with revenge on their minds to show the world that they are still the beasts of the east and what happened opening night was a fluke.
Anthony would be huge, as he has exploded in the starts of games, but if he is unable to go someone will need to pick up the slack. I would look for J.R. Smith to pick up the slack if Anthony sits. He has struggled with his shot recently, even with knocking down the game winner Wednesday night, but has a never back down mentality and always gives his all.
Tonight will be a great game for basketball fans even with no team affiliation in the game. The Knicks and Heat both have something to prove tonight and will put on a show for the audience.
Kenneth Teape @Teapster725 – Knickswag Contributor