PreHeat: Miami Heat (19-8) visit their old friends the New York Knicks (16-10)

  • Don't call it a comeback. Yet. The Knicks and the Heat have had some great moments over the years but the once-great rivalry between the two has largely been extinguished given the fact that the Knicks have only participated in one overall playoff series since 2000-01. In fact, they haven't even reached 40 wins since the turn of the century so the Knicks haven't really participated in meaningful games against any team. They've dropped five straight against the Heat with the last victory in the season opener of the 2008-09 season 120-115 (Mike D'Antoni's coaching debut).
  • No surprise that a D'Antoni team is second to last in points allowed with 107 (the Heat are first in the league with 91.1) and are in second in the league in points scored with 108.8 but you might not know that they lead the league in blocks with 6.76. They were 29th in the league for the 2009-10 season and in last place for the 2008-09 season in that category. They're also leading the league in three-pointers made and attempted and have gone 11-1 when they connect on at least 10 of them.
  • The Knicks' road record of 10-4 (.714) with 8 straight wins is certainly impressive. But the list of teams they've beat on this streak damper the enthusiasm a bit: Sacramento Kings, Golden State Warriors, LA Clippers, Charlotte Bobcats, Detroit Pistons, New Orleans Hornets, Toronto Raptors, and Washington Wizards. Nevertheless, to accomplish this on the road with a team few experts gave much of a chance to break out in the East can't be dismissed. Much like the common criticism against the Heat that they haven't beaten many good teams, the Knicks will now have plenty of chances against top quality teams in the next few weeks that will truly test them, but these confidence-building victories are something substantial to build off of regardless.
  • Also notable is that New York's top 5 scorers haven't missed one game yet. Toney Douglas, their sixth scorer at 9.6, has only missed one game. Ronny Turiaf might be the only player in their normal rotation (19.9 minutes per game) that has missed games due to an injury and even that's only been six games. Amare Stoudemire's extensive injury history might come back to haunt them but so far so good.
  • Harvey Araton of the New York Times: "But was [LeBron James] a big enough guy to man the burden of resurrecting the Knicks? Obviously not -- or at least not as ready, willing and capable as was Amare Stoudemire." Yup, the New York media is actually criticizing James for choosing to go with his best chance at winning instead of being a billionaire like he supposedly would be in New York. No surprise there but why exactly would James want to join a team that has basically been a disaster with James Dolan at the helm? When speaking about the sexual harrasment lawsuit against the Knicks and former employee Isiah Thomas back in 2007, NBA commissioner David Stern actually stated "they’re not a model of intelligent management". Oh that's right, it's New York so players should just want to automatically sign there because of that. Just like Cliff Lee didn't. Make no mistake, Amare signed for the big bucks and to get out of Phoenix who continuously dangled him in trade talks the last couple of years. Something tells me the main reason wasn't because he was "ready, willing and capable" to save a moribund franchise.
  • What awaits LeBron James in his return to Madison Square Garden? After what he went through in Cleveland, it might not be a bad thing if the fans give him their best shot. It's another chance to prove to his detractors that he has that killer mentality and Dwyane Wade loves to play there as well. Even more interesting will be Chris Bosh's play after some have questioned whether the Heat signed the wrong forward in free agency.

Tipoff: 7 p.m., Madison Square Garden.

TV – Sun Sports, ESPN. Radio - WAXY(790-AM), WQBA (1140-AM, Spanish), WEFL-ESPN (760-AM).

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