New York Knicks at Miami HEAT Game Preview

Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon

The Miami HEAT host the New York Knicks Friday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. Get your tickets now! The HEAT fell to the Knicks 115-86 in their last meeting on Nov. 29. Tip-off is set for 8:00 PM. Television coverage on FOX Sports Sun begins at 7:30 PM. You can also listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket.

1: What did you like the most about Miami’s win over Detroit? 

Couper Moorhead: The HEAT have had games this season where it feels like they’re making all of their threes – they’re tied with the Spurs for third-most games in the league, at five, making at least half of their triples – but Wednesday felt like something a little beyond that with the offense looking as fluid and crisp as it has all season. 

Detroit missing both Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson was certainly a factor, especially since it left the Pistons playing Anthony Tolliver at center down the stretch. Stan Van Gundy’s group likes to put much more pressure on the ball than the average team, but without some of their best rotation players that pressure wasn’t quite as strong as it usually is and Miami was able to play downhill almost the entire game. Every opponent is going to offer a different challenge, but when you put up 29 assists and all the game film points to them being strong, attacking passes, that points to a very positive trend.

Oh, and even though Detroit shot very well they were actually held to their lowest Shot Quality score of the season.

Joe Beguiristain: Above all else, I really liked the HEAT’s ball movement on Wednesday night. In fact, Miami tied a season high with 29 assists and shot an unreal 17-of-34 from downtown as a result. Goran Dragić paced the HEAT with 13 assists and Josh Richardson led the charge with five made threes, but four other guys had three treys apiece. Simply put, the ball was moving from side-to-side, guys were moving off the ball with precision and there was very little wasted movement overall.

We should also mention Kelly Olynyk, who was fantastic from start to finish against the Pistons. The 7-footer took advantage of both Eric Moreland and Anthony Tolliver, as he led Miami with 25 points and 13 rebounds on the night. On the flip side of the ball, Olynyk contested 15 shots, deflected three passes and drew a charge. Talk about a complete performance.

2: What lessons will the HEAT need to take from their tough loss in New York a month ago?

Couper: Disappointing though it might have been to see Miami trail by 30 when Kristaps Porziņģis played only two minutes, this is one of those games where it’s probably best to just have a short memory and forget about it – especially with Hassan Whiteside not playing and the team being on a Cleveland-to-New York back-to-back.

Of course that doesn’t excuse the performance and there is plenty to clean up, most notably the defense of Enes Kanter who scored 22 points on nine shots in 25 minutes. Kanter is a dominant offensive rebounder who will make his mark on the game one way or another, but Miami can do a better job offering resistance around the rim.

Note also that Tim Hardaway Jr. is not likely to play.

Joe: That last matchup against the Knicks on Nov. 29 was perhaps the HEAT's toughest loss of the season. As Coup mentioned above, New York took control even without Kristaps Porziņģis for a majority of the contest. That said, Miami was missing Hassan Whiteside inside, who definitely would have helped on the glass against both Enes Kanter and Willy Hernangómez.

With Whiteside back and the HEAT currently on a nice roll (winners of seven of their last ten), things should look a lot different this time around.

3: With Porziņģis presumably able to play regular minutes this time, how will he change the game?

Couper: Even though he’s shooting just 36 percent from the field over the past eight games, since returning from injury, Porziņģis is without a doubt one of the most unique players in the league and the type that is apt to break out of a slump at any moment. With both Porziņģis and Kanter likely to start against Miami’s projected starters of Kelly Olynyk and Whiteside, we can expect Whiteside to deal with Kanter on the glass and Olynyk to draw Porziņģis on the perimeter. That’s not as simple as defending post-ups and isolations and spot-up threes, however, as New York will run plenty of off-ball screens for their primary scorer which means Olynyk will need to depend on Miami’s guards to put enough pressure on the passing lanes to give him time to fight through contact.

Joe: Well, Porziņģis is called a unicorn for a reason. The 22-year-old Latvian can score in a variety of different ways, whether it be off catch-and-shoot opportunities, pull-up jumpers or finishes inside. That said, Porziņģis takes the majority of his shots from mid-range, where he is shooting 90-of-228 on the season (39.5 percent). While that percentage isn’t great, he’s too good of a shooter for that to continue.

As Coup mentioned above, Olynyk will likely get the first stab at Porziņģis on Friday with Whiteside battling Kanter down-low. Still, you can also expect James Johnson to match up with Porziņģis throughout the night. Although Johnson is giving up some size to Porziņģis, he’s one of Miami's toughest defenders and has fared well in similar situations before. No excuses.

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Game Notes:

  • The HEAT have won seven of ten and are 20-17.
  • The Knicks have dropped six of seven and enter the contest at 18-20.
  • Goran Dragić leads Miami in points (16.7) and assists (4.7) per game.
  • Kristaps Porziņģis leads New York in points (23.8) and blocks (2.2) per contest.

 

Efficiencies (Rank):

  • HEAT Offense: 103.4 (23)
  • HEAT Defense: 105.1 (13)
  • Knicks Offense: 104.1 (19)
  • Knicks Defense: 105.6 (14)