UPDATE: Shane Battier, Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole and Udonis Haslem will play tonight. END OF UPDATE.
Games between the Miami Heat and New York Knicks always bring out some tension for various reasons -- Pat Riley's infamous departure from New York to South Beach, the two teams' a bitter rivalry during the 1990s, transplant New Yorkers coming to cheer for the Knicks in Miami and the courtship of LeBron James during the summer of 2010.
Unfortunately, though, Carmelo Anthony is questionable for tonight's game. Anthony lacerated his middle finger during the Knicks' win against the Charlotte Bobcats last night. Doctors applied six stitches to close the cut. Anthony said that he wants to play, but added, "if I can't play, I'll see them two more times."
The Heat also have injury issues that could dampen the game. Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole, Shane Battier and Udonis Haslem are all listed as "game-time decisions" for tonight's meeting. Battier hasn't played since Nov. 24, but participated in the team shootaround this morning. If Anthony plays, having Battier would relieve LeBron James from having to defend the opposing team's best player for the entire game. With the Heat's recent injuries at the point guard spot, Erik Spoelstra had to turn to seldom-used guard Terrel Harris against Washington.
Whoever takes the court for either side, Miami should feel motivated to play well. The Heat are coming off a loss to the NBA-worst Washington Wizards. The loss shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, as Miami has needed Ray Allen 3s to defeat the Kyrie Irving-less Cleveland Cavaliers and the San Antonio Spurs' B team. The Heat have tried to come away with wins despite sleepwalking on defense for the first three-and-a-half quarters, and it finally caught up to the players.
Moreover, The Knicks shellacked Miami in these two teams' first meeting Nov. 2, 104-84. The Heat played poor defense against the Knicks then and the Wizards Tuesday night, failing to play with the effort to make the right rotations. But we have seen Miami show flashes of great defense -- like the second half of the Heat/Nets game last week -- so the ability remains. Although the playoffs are still months away, Miami should play with intensity tonight.