The Miami Heat (37-38) take on the New York Knicks (14-61) tonight at Madison Square Garden, and after returning to the eighth seed thanks to a win over the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday and Orlando losing heavily to the Detroit Pistons, the playoff race is very much game on once again.
With just seven games left until the regular season is in the books, the Heat will need to secure as many wins as possible. After tonight’s game against the NBA’s worst team, Miami will only face two more opponents currently sat at .500 or under and will only see one of those teams at home.
One thing that is in the Heat’s favor is that the teams around them are all dropping games, and with the seventh seed Brooklyn Nets just half a game ahead, a win for Miami could see them move further into the playoff seedings.
The Knicks season has been over for a very long time and they look like they are in with a very good chance of drafting 2019’s most sought-after player Zion Williamson, so even though they are still competing, you don't get the feel that they are willing to put up much of a fight.
New York has lost all but one of their 13 games in the month of March, that win was thanks to Mario Hezonja’s last-second shot block on LeBron James at the MSG against the Los Angeles Lakers. It really has been a season to forget for coach David Fizdale but as mentioned, it could turn out to be a good thing as the prospect of drafting Williamson in June could erase it from the fans memories.
For Miami, it will be the first of a short two-game road trip, and given the team’s winning road record of 19-17, it’s something they have taken well to this year.
The game will also be the third and final meeting between the two teams, with the Heat looking to sweep the season series 3-0. Miami claimed the first meeting 110-87 at the AmericanAirlines Arena back in October, before taking the second 106-97 at the Garden at the end of January. That game proved to be a one which was bittersweet as the Heat lost Derrick Jones Jr to a nasty looking knee injury, however thankfully Jones wasn't ruled out for too long before he returned.
Heat: Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters, Derrick Jones Jr., Kelly Olynyk, Bam Adebayo
New York: Emmanuel Mudiay, Dennis Smith Jr., Mario Hezonja, Kevin Knox, DeAndre Jordan
Heat: Justise Winslow (thigh), Rodney McGruder (knee), Josh Richardson (heel) are all out for at least two more games.
New York: Frank Ntilikina (groin) is out for the rest of the season, Allonzo Trier (calf) will sit out tonight.
Tip-Off: 7:30 PM
TV: FOX Sports Sun (Eric Reid, John Crotty, Jason Jackson)
Radio: The Ticket 790AM & The HEAT Radio Network (Mike Inglis, Ruth Riley Hunter)
Spanish Radio: WAQI 710AM & The HEAT Spanish Radio Network (José Pañeda, Joe Pujala)