HEAT-Knicks Preview

MIAMI, January 26 -- Nearly one month ago, the New York Knicks came to Miami having won 10 of their last 13 games. The HEAT controlled that game, holding the lead after going ahead 4-2 and racing out to a 34-15 edge at one point in the first quarter. The HEAT were firing on all cylinders, with LeBron James and Chris Bosh both recording double-doubles while Dwyane Wade closed the door on the Knicks, scoring 15 of the HEAT’s final 21 points.

The HEAT will use a slightly different squad this time in New York. After a 120-103 victory against Toronto snapped a four game losing streak, Mario Chalmers was officially named the new starter at point guard. At practice Tuesday, Wade offered his advice and support to Chalmers.

“Just keep getting better, keep it up, don’t be content.”

“Mario’s been giving us solid and steady minutes and getting better at doing the things I want him to do,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It probably also helped us with the other parts of our rotation, trying to get Mike (Miller) a little more involved.”

Trying to get Mike Miller involved certainly paid off in the last game for the HEAT. After gradually working Miller into the rotation since December 20, Miller started against the Raptors and exploded for a franchise record 22 points in the second quarter (32 total). Not only did Miller find his shooting stroke (12-of-20 from the field), he also contributed 10 rebounds.

“When we go to New York, they will have Mike Miller on the scouting report," James said.

While the Knicks can be certain they will face Miller, they won’t be facing Bosh. Bosh has not played since suffering a high ankle sprain against the Chicago Bulls on January 15. Bosh has been a focal point of the offense for the HEAT, spreading the floor and helping the HEAT run their high post offense. With Bosh not making the trip to New York, the HEAT will utilize James in the high post at power forward against New York’s defense.

Also ailing, Wade was still recovering from the effects of a migraine as of Wednesday. He wore special glasses in for the first half of practice, after full practices with them Monday and Tuesday, to help him cope with symptoms caused by bright lights. While Wade will be playing tomorrow, it is unknown if he will have to wear the glasses during the game.

Anthony vs. Stoudemire

Joel Anthony has been an integral part of the stingy HEAT defense this season, making hustle plays with his athleticism that don’t always fill up a box score. The last time the HEAT faced the Knicks, Anthony had two blocks and was on the court for over 33 minutes.

“He can play starters minutes when we need him, and against an opponent like New York you’ll probably see starter’s minutes from him,” Spoelstra said. “He can guard virtually anybody on the floor.”

One player Anthony should spend plenty of time guarding is Amar’e Stoudemire. Stoudemire leads the Knicks with 26.1 points per game on 50 percent field goal shooting. While Stoudemire went for 30 points the last time the Knicks played the HEAT, he only shot 10-for-23 while being constantly harassed by Miami’s fifth ranked defense. Eight of his shots were from 16-23 feet out, as the Knicks were forced into isolation sets. Stoudemire had an even poorer shooting night the first time the HEAT visited Madison Square Garden, missing 17 shots in a 113-91 HEAT victory.

HEAT in the Big Apple II

The Miami HEAT have taken their Road Warrior mentality around the country this season, going an impressive 15-8 on the road so far this season. While injuries have caused Spoelstra to experiment with many new lineups, James is looking forward to the trip up north to Madison Square Garden where he has played very well in the past.

“The Garden is probably the best atmosphere we have in the league. It should be a fun challenge for our team,” said James.

The Knicks are second in the league in possessions per game, favoring a fast paced style of basketball that has become synonymous with Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni. This fast pace could play right into the strength of the HEAT, who are 13-2 against ten fastest paced teams in the league. With the HEAT featuring two of the leagues most creative players in the open court, the Knicks style of play could work in Miami’s favor Thursday night.