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Danny

Knicks at HEAT Official Game Thread and Preview

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(Photo Credit: Nick Laham)

The top two teams in the Eastern Conference face off tonight when the Miami HEAT play host to the New York Knicks. The HEAT enter the contest at 12-4 after losing a tight game to the Washington Wizards earlier in the week. The Knicks stand at 13-4 and are riding a four game winning streak. Tip off is set for 8 PM.

1. New York’s win over the HEAT during the first week of the season was more than thorough, but is there anything that should carry over now that the Knicks have cooled a little?

Couper Moorhead: That was a pretty unique situation, it being New York’s home opener coming just days after the city was hit by Hurricane Sandy. There were probably emotions that night that are going to be tough to replicate, but that’s impossible to fit into any sort of real analysis. What we do know is that the Knicks moved the ball extremely well in the game and continued to do so for a week or so after that, but their offense has been more up and down since then. We also know that the Knicks hit 19 threes – this coming during the period when J.R. Smith didn’t know the meaning of the word ‘miss’ – and that is not likely to happen again even if Miami’s defense has another slow first half.

Can’t take anything away from the Knicks for a win, but it’s probably best to just let that game exist in its own little world and to treat this matchup as the true beginning of the season series.

Danny Martinez: The Knicks have cooled some, but they’re still shooting more threes than anyone in the league and hitting them at the third best rate in the league. In that first matchup, the Knicks buried the HEAT early under a barrage of jumpers. I think the Knicks plan of three-pointers and Tyson Chandler shots at the rim will remain the same.

2. If Shane Battier can’t play and defend Carmelo Anthony, what is Miami’s best option?

Couper: Of course, we’ll have to add another qualifier if Battier – the lynchpin of the HEAT’s defensive lineups – can’t go. LeBron James is the obvious option, but since Erik Spoelstra likely won’t want to wear James down for an entire game – the Knicks won’t want Anthony guarding James too much for the same reason – then we’ll see likely starter Rashard Lewis doing the early honors with a heavy helping of attention from everyone else. It’ll be interesting to see if Spoelstra goes small with the bench lineups and puts Mike Miller on Anthony, or if one of Udonis Haslem or Joel Anthony gets to try.

Danny: The best perimeter defender in the NBA, LeBron James. The Knicks have had to alter their starting lineup a bit in Jason Kidd’s absence. They’re going with two traditional bigs instead of Anthony at the power forward spot. Regardless of what iteration they use, James is the best option. Over the course of the game other players including Rashard Lewis, Mike Miller and Dwyane Wade will see some of the matchup as well. But when the chips are on the table, I expect to see James on Anthony.

3. Is there any reason the Knicks won’t be able to stick around as a top offense alongside Miami and Oklahoma City?

Couper: It all depends on how the team eventually reacts to the injection of Amar’e Stoudemire back into the system. If he agrees to come off the bench and allow Carmelo Anthony to keep starting at power forward, the Knicks could regress a little in shooting percentages and ball movement and still approach 110 points per 100 possessions for an entire season. But with Stoudemire on the floor the spacing gets funky and Anthony gets his catches pushed farther from the rim against defenders more capable of staying with him one-on-one. Time will tell.

Danny:

The Knicks are getting an absurd amount of shots from high-value areas, at the rim and from three. If they keep that up, I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t stick around in the top tier of league offenses. They spread the floor very well and when Jason Kidd is on the floor, he orchestrates some really great perimeter passing. Contrary to what many believe, it was the Knicks’ defense last season, not the offense, that was elite. This newfound offensive firepower goes a long way to explaining their explosive start.

4. What is the biggest defensive area the team needs to key in on?

Couper: The Knicks, especially if Jason Kidd returns, are much better equipped to get the HEAT’s defense over-rotated in order to open up perimeter threes, but at the core of this offense there is still that spread pick-and-roll, using either Anthony or Chandler, that is the harbinger of the apocalypse for some defensive systems. Battier expertly defended this during the playoffs last season, reading when to chuck the roll man out of position and when to retreat to his man on the arc, so this will be a big test for Rashard Lewis.

Danny: The Knicks are going to shoot a ton of threes. They run the pick-and-roll with Tyson Chandler to occupy help defenders then kick the ball out to behind the arc. HEAT defenders will need to be attentive to where Knicks shooters are and remain committed to strong closeouts. If they can force the Knicks into jumpers that aren’t from behind the arc, I like the HEAT’s chances.

5. This game means ____?

Couper: You don’t expect me to say anything other than ‘nothing’, right? This is going to be a nice test for each squad, and one group of fans will get some temporary bragging rights, but weary is the mind that attempts to ascribe deep meaning to December contests.

Danny: Whatever you want it to mean. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t mean much. Early season games, whether billed as big or small, tend to be forgotten come playoff time. However, it is a marquee matchup between two rivals who sit atop the Eastern Conference standings. The HEAT are still figuring some things out, so Thursday should be a great test. But just remember, it’s far from the final exam.

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Infernoian Preview

Tonight's preview comes courtesy of LeBron+Wade>Jordan+Pippen and 305LWB

1. New York’s win over the HEAT during the first week of the season was more than thorough, but is there anything that should carry over now that the Knicks have cooled a little?

LeBron+Wade>Jordan+Pippen: Well, it will be a super exciting game because the circumstances have made it that much more interesting. Knicks have one more win than the Heat, so if the Heat win they can reclaim the top spot in the East while beating what I believe is there best challenger for the number one spot. And the Heat got embarrassed by the Knicks the first time around, and are coming off another embarrasing loss to the Wizards, so the Heat have more to prove and a chance to redeem themselves. The Heat are also undefeated at home so that streak is on the line as well.

305LWB: The heat had a ton of careless TO's and the Knicks made a good amount of contested 3's, I doubt those things happen to that degree again. The defense was very bad as well that game but that's been the case a large portion of the year so it doesn't have to do with just the Knicks. Overall it was just 1 game of 82 in the grand scheme of things. Still Miami should want to come out and prove a point.

2. If Shane Battier can’t play and defend Carmelo Anthony, what is Miami’s best option?

LeBron+Wade>Jordan+Pippen: LeBron will have to guard him most of the game, so that means that Wade and Bosh and other players will have to step up and help carry the offensive load even more than usual so LeBron can concentrate his energy.

305LWB: It has to be the King. I'm not even sure if Battier were to play that he would be the best option above LeBron either. I believe last year in the playoffs Melo shot 50% against Battier. Against LeBron he only shot an abysmal 29%. Still having Battier gives Miami another capable defender to guard Melo, which takes some pressure off LeBron. Hopefully he's capable of playing.

3. Is there any reason the Knicks won’t be able to stick around as a top offense alongside Miami and Oklahoma City?

LeBron+Wade>Jordan+Pippen: They way it looks right now, there isn't much reason for them not to stay one of the top offensive teams. Offense has always been the Knicks calling card while Melo has been there, but they are starting to gain more of a defensive identity with Tyson Chandler anchoring the defense. The only knock I can see on messing up the Knicks offense would be the return of Amare. It is a good problem to have, but they seem to never flow as well while Amare is on the floor, and I think that is because Melo thinks too much and concentrates more on sharing the ball with Amare rather than just playing with that freedom he has right now.

305LWB: The Knicks are the best team in the league at limiting turnovers, which makes up for them not shooting the ball quite as well as either Miami or OKC. I have my doubts about them keeping up this level of 3 point shooting for a whole year though, and it seems like they're already starting to cool off. Also we'll have to see how Amare effects the offense when he comes back too. I doubt if the Knicks will remain a top 3 offense with Miami and OKC but top 10 for sure and maybe top 5 if Amare can come back and fit in.

4. What is the biggest defensive area the team needs to key in on?

LeBron+Wade>Jordan+Pippen: Obviously, the rebounding has always been an issue that gets brought up every game with the Heat this year because we play small, but I think contesting shots is the most important thing we need to do against NY. If we don't close out on shots, the Knicks will make us pay because they have a ton of great shooters, and that will open up the floor for them, and open up the game too. Once a couple easy threes fall, it gives them confidence and that is when they start playing over their heads and we can't allow that to happen.

305LWB: I could write a whole essay but mainly our guards have to play better defense against dribble penetration, especially against New York so we don't have to overhelp in the paint, which leads to open 3 pointers for all their shooters.We also need to help and recover faster to the shooters or it could be a long night.

5. This game means ____?

LeBron+Wade>Jordan+Pippen: At the end of the day, it is a regular season game, but this game means a lot to me. We will probably see the Knicks later down the line in the playoffs, and we can't give them the confidence they can beat us. This is statement game in my eyes. We need to show them who the best team in the East really is.

305LWB: 1st in the East and a big test for Miami's defense and the team to get back on track after an embarassing loss to the Wizards. It also means we won't have to listen to Knicks fans till the next time these teams play <_<

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Guess whos going to the arena tonight boys! Like a bosh better light it up with some jays. Ill try and post some pics after the game.20121206_183904.jpg

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Melo not playing which just made this game unenjoyable...... *** man. All of our prime time matchups are being ***ed with.

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305, we're not totally out of the woods yet seeing how we played against the Spurs D-League roster

No ***, that's why this game is unenjoyable now. Now you know our team will come out with no energy because they're suppose to win.

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