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Heat at Knicks: It Begins!

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Let's see exactly what the hell we've got in this mysterious grab-bag of a roster we call the 2008-09 Miami Heat. You've got your established stars, your talent-dripping rookies, your veterans both solid and marginal, your gimpy question marks. Tonight, however, Miami has the good fortune of opening against a conference rival that has it easily beat in the disarray department.

The Knicks are eerily similar in some significant ways: both have big question marks at point guard; both are handing their center position to a smallish power forward (Udonis Haslem, David Lee) just to get him his minutes; both have new coaches; both are looking toward 2010 to land a star, though Miami is blessed in that it has an existing superstar in Dwyane Wade as well as a potential one in Michael Beasley.

Matchup of the night: Michael Beasley vs. Zach Randolph.

Beasley gets Derrick Coleman all the time, but here's his real cautionary tale. Randolph is a wonderfully gifted scorer and above-average rebounder who has nurtured those stat-friendly facets of the game to the exclusion of all others. Randolph - assuming he guards Beasley while Lee checks Haslem - will let Beasley do whatever he wants offensively. But it's a trap, and Beasley can't be coaxed into matching that lackadaiscal effort when he's guarding Randolph. Take the high road, Beasley, and hold Randolph to 14 while you get 20.

Opposing player I'm scared of: Wilson Chandler.

The dude just screams breakout, and I'm not sure Shawn Marion's ready for him on night one. That's a lot of energy to match.

Prediction: Heat 96, Knicks 88

Mike D'Antoni arrives preaching offense, the Knicks perceive it as an invitation to slack on defense, and Dwyane Wade happily crashes the party.