Dwyane Wade is looking to start the season on a good note - Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
Unlike many playoff teams around the league, the Heat are comfortable and healthy. Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks will try to change that when they play the Heat tonight at 8 p.m.The Heat will look to start the season 2-0 for the second year in a row.
There is no shortage of story lines in the NBA right now amongst the leagues marquee teams. For one, the Los Angeles Lakers have began the season with a few losses, which in this media and fan climate, leads to excessive scrutiny for their newly assembled team of stars.
In Oklahoma City, the perception is that the Thunder have taken a step back after trading James Harden, who had a spectacular debut with Houston, as the Thunder fell at the buzzer to open their season at San Antonio.
The Heat's opponent tonight, the Knicks, are dealing with the loss of their starting power forward Amar'e Stoudemire for at least a month, and in an even bigger scope, are dealing with adversity after Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast this week.
And then there is Miami.
The Heat sit in a comfortable position as a healthy, defending champion that kicked off the season on the right note by beating Boston with an impressive offensive display, and looks every bit like a team that has continuity and confidence.
They will look to keep that going against New York, who might be emotionally invested in giving their home crowd a good showing after the storm left the area reeling.
ANTHONY AT POWER FORWARD
The Knicks will likely start the game with a small lineup that features Jason Kidd, Ray Felton, Ronnie Brewer, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler, with Anthony playing the power forward position. This may seem like something the Knicks will have to adjust to on the fly, but in reality, they are very familiar with playing through Anthony in the post.
Last season, the All-Star played 19 percent of his possessions at the 4-spot, and shot a blistering 55 percent there, according to 82games.com. The Knicks outscored it's opponents by 84 points during the course of the year with Anthony at power forward. By comparison, Anthony had a 17.4 player efficiency rating at small forward in 2010-11. At power forward? 29.5.
In short, LeBron James isn't the only small forward with a dazzling post game.
Shane Battier will probably have the task of limiting Anthony, with help from James at times and during crunch time if the game is close, but stalling a player of that caliber isn't entirely possible.
Ironically, the loss of Stoudemire, which opens up extended playing time for Anthony at power forward, could unlock more efficiency for the Knicks going forward, which would become a dilemma when a healthy Stoudemire returns, especially when you consider that the Knicks haven't had much team success with them both in the lineup.
* The Knicks have transformed themselves into a very formidable defensive team since last season, when they finished fifth in the league in defensive rating after acquiring defensive player of the year Tyson Chandler, so don't count on this game being a shootout. Knicks coach Mike Woodson and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra are defensive coaches first and foremost, and want to see that disposition from the outset.
* Dwyane Wade played 35 minutes in the opener on Tuesday, scoring 29 points on 10-of-22 shooting on the offensive end. Keep an eye on him as he continues to round into form after offseason knee surgery. He probably is not going to be the 37 minute per game player he has been throughout his career, as it will be closer to the 33 he averaged last season as the Heat look to keep their star guard fresh.
* The cramps LeBron James faced that forced him to miss the end of the Celtic game on Tuesday will not prevent him from being 100 percent tonight.