After missing Sunday's win over the Chicago Bulls, LeBron James is planning to rejoin the lineup tonight in a nationally-televised matchup against the New York Knicks. Although the four-time MVP has gotten a week off since sustaining a broken nose gainst the Oklahoma City Thunder last Thursday, he will still need to wear a protective mask.
Does this mean that we'll see another play like this one, when a young, mask-bearing James dunked on Heat guard Damon Jones?
One can only hope that it comes against Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks. After winning a respectable 54 games last season and securing the second seed in the East, the Knicks have gone a dismal 21-36 and find themselves in a three-game skid. The team also dealt with an unsettling development early Tuesday morning when point guard Raymond Felton was arrested on felony weapons charges.
But it's also important to point out that the Heat have struggled against the sub-.500 teams this entire season. The Heat defeated the Thunder and Clippers on the recent six-game road trip, but couldn't defeat the Utah Jazz. Miami and New York have split their two meetings in Madison Square Garden, and the Heat's 15-point win Feb. 1 was a close game until the fourth quarter. We may see Erik Spoelstra use a similar defensive scheme against Carmelo Anthony to the one he utilized with effectiveness against Kevin Durant.
Despite the fact that the Knicks have Anthony, Miami simply needs to approach this game like it approached the Thunder game. If that happens, Miami will have little trouble coming away with a victory at home. The No. 1 seed is very much up for grabs, and the Heat only stand two games behind the Indiana Pacers. This game is simply a test to see if the Heat are disciplined enough to win a game it should absolutely win.