Knicks-Heat Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 01, 2013
The New York Knicks have the NBA's longest active winning streak and are one of only three teams with a winning record against the Miami Heat. While the Heat could be short-handed, they should have plenty of extra incentive when the rivals wrap up their season series Tuesday night in Miami. The defending champion Heat (58-15) sit alone atop the NBA after winning 29 of 30 and have built a sizable advantage over division leaders New York (46-26) and Indiana in the Eastern Conference. Even with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers sitting out, Miami moved closer to securing home-court advantage throughout the playoffs Sunday when Chris Bosh hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 1.9 seconds left in an 88-86 victory at West-leading San Antonio. The potential absences of James (hamstring), Wade (ankle) and Chalmers (ankle) could take some of the luster off this contest as all three are questionable. James missed his first game Sunday, while the Heat are 6-1 without Wade. "We are the defending champs no matter who we put out there," Bosh said. "We are still the Miami Heat. We believe in ourselves. Each one of these guys is a professional." Since Miami's 27-game winning streak came to end in Chicago on Wednesday, New York has owned the league's top winning streak. The Knicks extended their run to eight with a 108-89 home victory over Boston on Sunday. They also took another step toward their first Atlantic Division title in 19 years by taking a 4 1/2-game lead on second-place Brooklyn. "I think we're just clicking at the right time," swingman Iman Shumpert said. "Going in the playoffs, everybody's got a different focus. Guys got a little more pep in their step and everybody's locked in." The Knicks haven't won nine in a row since winning 15 straight during the 1993-94 season and they'll face their toughest test of the streak against the Heat, who have the league's second-best home record at 32-3. Miami has already wrapped up its third straight Southeast Division title and home-court advantage in the East. The Heat will try to earn a split of the season series after dropping the first two by 20 points each and rallying to win the last meeting 99-93 in New York on March 3. The Pacers and Bulls are also 2-1 against Miami this season. James is averaging 27.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and 7.0 assists in the three games against the Knicks. Bosh, however, has scored 13.3 per game while shooting 35.7 percent from the field. New York has limited opponents to 91.5 points per game during its streak and has held the Heat to 91.7 - 11.6 below their season average. Carmelo Anthony missed the Knicks' 112-92 victory in Miami on Dec. 6 because of a lacerated finger. He's averaged 34.5 points in his last four games against the Heat, including the 2012 playoffs. Knicks All-Star center Tyson Chandler, who has missed the past 10 games with a neck injury, is expected to be a game-time decision. The Knicks have scored 107.8 per game and hit 41.1 percent from 3-point range over their last five contests. They'll likely have a difficult time matching that production against a Miami defense that has limited opponents to an average of 82.3 points and 24.6 percent shooting from beyond the arc in its last three at home. The Heat have won nine of 11 meetings in Miami, including three victories in last year's playoffs.
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