When it comes to the NBA regular season, there is rarely any time to dwell on your mistakes. Hopefully that's a good thing for the Miami Heat, who move on from Saturday's late-game collapse versus the Boston Celtics to a Sunday night matchup versus the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden (7:30 p.m. EST).
The Heat will look to continue developing some consistency without All-Star Chris Bosh, whose playing career, for both this season and beyond, remains in doubt. Miami has been able to win three of their last five games with Luol Deng playing the "small-ball" power forward position, using his speed and cutting ability to help keep the team's offense fluid. But that wasn't the case in Boston, when Miami's scoring was stymied by a combination of the Celtics' tight defense and the Heat's inability to capitalize on what few opportunities presented themselves. Miami shot just 41.4 percent in Saturday's loss and a woeful 1-of-13 from three-point range.
Some relief should come for Miami with the addition of Joe Johnson to the roster, the veteran sharpshooter that negotiated a buyout of his contract with the Brooklyn Nets. As a free agent, he had his choice of teams to join for a playoff push but chose the Heat, reportedly seeking a level of comfort and increased playing opportunities. He'll certainly get his chances, as Miami continues to struggle beyond the perimeter and hasn't had any consistent production from Gerald Green off the bench, a role that Johnson is likely to take over.
The Knicks (25-35) are looking for consistency of their own, after starting off the season reasonably well but having lost 12 of their last 15 games. Derek Fisher was fired as head coach and replaced on an interim basis by Kurt Rambis, who has been even more incapable of getting this team to perform at a high level. But despite their problems, New York does present some intriguing individual matchups in tonight's game.
Carmelo Anthony remains the team's leading scorer (at 21.4 points per game). He'll be facing Justise Winslow, who is expected to continue starting with Bosh out of the lineup. The rookie's defense has been phenomenal this season but Anthony is still an elite scorer that is capable of catching fire during the course of the game. Additionally, with Deng at power forward, he'll be guarding 7'3" Kristaps Porzingis, the centerpiece of New York's rebuilding efforts. While he's had the expected ups-and-downs of a rookie campaign, Porzingis is a capable all-around player, who can be a dangerous shooter, rebounder and rim protector. Knicks center Robin Lopez is a solid, rugged defender and how he matches up with Amar'e Stoudemire and Hassan Whiteside (who continues to thrive off the bench) will be a key to the game.
Despite the intriguing battles between the starting lineups, it's the play of both benches that will likely determine the course of the game. While Whiteside is expected to continue dominating in that role, it's how Johnson will blend with his new teammates that should be an interesting subplot to tonight's game. Head coach Erik Spoelstra will be challenged to find the right combination of players, including Josh McRoberts and rookie Josh Richardson, who has been a pleasant surprise as a backup guard.
Tip-off time is 7:30pm at Madison Square Garden and the game will be televised on Fox Sports Sun and 790 AM.
Check back with Hot Hot Hoops both during and after the game for the latest news and updates.