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Game preview: Miami Heat vs. New York Knicks

Hello All, Happy Holidays​! The Heat will be on the road on Christmas Day to play the red-hot Knickerbockers. If at the beginning of the season someone had asked what would happen in this game, I probably would have taken the Heat in a blowout. But more on this in a bit. First, I was reading Bill Simmons’ last column, in which he discussed trade possibilities for the have-nots of the NBA. I thought it was interesting when he brought up the following two scenarios for the Heat: "Fake Trade 8B: Same trade as above (Hornets trade Chris Paul, Peja Stojakovic, James Poser and Darius Songailia), only with Miami giving up three ECs (Jermaine O'Neal, Mario Chalmers and Dorell Wright) plus Michael Beasley. Not as good a deal as the Houston one. Although the thought of a Wade-Paul backcourt just made me pee on myself." "Fake Trade 11: Philly trades Dalembert, Iguodala and Jason Kapono's EC to Miami for the O'Neal/Richardson/Dorell Wright ECs. Philly ends up with its fifth overpaid has-been frontcourt player this decade (joining Dikembe Mutombo, Chris Webber, Derrick Coleman and Brand in what's becoming a tradition right up there with Easter and Thanksgiving); Quentin Richardson adds another team in his quest to play for all 30; Kapono ends up back in Miami, a nostalgic romp for all 43 Heat fans; and Miami becomes a fringe contender with a Wade-Iguodala-Dalembert-Beasley nucleus. This one makes too much sense." Obviously, the Heat has to do something. Their ceiling is the fifth seed in the East right now and a probable first round exit (although D-Wade could win a best of five on his own if he had to). There just is not enough supporting cast for Wade; if the franchise doesn’t make a move and indeed tops out in the first round, it HIGHLY increases the odds Wade bolts. It would obviously be great to see the Heat trade for CP3, but honestly, I think that Mr. Simmons might be overestimating the desperation of the Hornets (he even admits that this is an unlikely scenario). The Iguodala scenario is both more realistic and more practical. The Heat need a shooter (Kapono), but more importantly, they NEED an athletic swingman who can get to the hole and defend guys like Paul Pierce. Plus, Iguodala is much better second-fiddle to a great player than first option…this trade just makes a lot of sense. I say go get it done. If the Sixers put that offer on the table, the Heat need to take it and not look back. Figured a little food for thought would go well with everyone’s Christmas Day Turkey. Now, on to the game. Projected Starters Miami Heat PG- Carlos Arroyo SG- Dwyane Wade​ ​ SF- Quentin Richardson​​ PF- Michael Beasley​​ C- Jermaine O’Neal​​ New York Knicks PG- Chris Duhon SG- Wilson Chandler (really a small forward) SF- Danilo Gallinari PF- Jared Jeffries C- David Lee Noteworthy: The Knicks really don’t have true positions, thanks to Mike D’Antoni and his Run-‘n’-Gun offense. They are also lead in scoring by their sixth man, Al Harrington, who gets more minutes than Gallinari. Stats Breakdown Effective Field Goal % The Heat rank 16th in the NBA at 49.4%, while the Knicks are at 50.3% and 12th place. EDGE: Knicks (Slight) Turnover % The Heat are at 12.7% and 2nd in the NBA, while the Knicks are at 14.2% and 9th, which is remarkable considering their style of offense. EDGE: Heat Offensive Rebound % The Heat are bad, at only 25.4%, 22nd in the NBA. The Knicks are worse, at 22.7%, good for 29th. EDGE: Heat Free Throw Rate The Heat are at 37.2%, 11th in the NBA; the Knicks are at 16.3% and 28th. EDGE: Heat The stats clearly favor the Heat, but the stats may lie a little here…they are pretty skewed thanks to the terrible start the Knicks had BBNR (Before Benching Nate Robinson). Rest assured, this will not be a blowout (or at least it shouldn’t be at Madison Square Garden in the spotlight on Christmas). Heat Key to the Game The Heat, once again, have to force the Knicks to slow down and play to their pace. If that happens, the Heat will run away with it. In particular, limiting the three point attempts for Gallinari in transition will be key. He is a big guy that likes to snipe from long range and is quite good at it (42% on almost 7 attempts per game). He is not physical for a big, so the Heat can probably slow him down with a rotation of James Jones, Richardson and Dorrell Wright. And, of course, it would be nice if Mario Chalmers and Arroyo can take advantage of Duhon and Larry Hughes on the offensive end and take some of the pressure off Wade (Beasley will have a tough time against Jeffries, who is playing great defense). Knicks Key to the Game Simple. Force the Heat in to a fast tempo (which the Heat do not do well this season) and slow down Wade. Henry Abbott said the following on ESPN.com today: "The Knicks seem to have settled into roles (Jared Jeffries as stopper, Larry Hughes as backup point guard, Danilo Gallinari as gunner, etc.) that work reasonably well. The Heat are good when Dwyane Wade is otherworldly, and it seems unfair to expect that of him every night." In other words, the Knicks are playing better and more consistent basketball; the problem is that the Knicks don’t really have a matchup for Wade on the defensive end. Oh, and there’s the fact that it is Christmas at the Garden…think Wade is going to be otherworldly on a big stage? If I were a betting man, I’d take the Heat. (Insert Tim Donaghy joke here)