Miami Heat vs. New York Knicks: Preview, Analysis and Predictions

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured ColumnistNovember 1, 2012

MIAMI, FL - MAY 09:  Forward LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat defends Forward Carmelo Anthony#7 of the New York Knicks in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs  on May 9, 2012 at the American Airines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

One of the greatest rivalries in the history of the NBA is set to be revived.

We think.

The Miami Heat are heading to the Big Apple to face off against the New York Knicks, a perennial nemesis of theirs, yet an inferior one all the same.

Miami looked sharp in its first outing against the Boston Celtics, basically putting the game out of reach—had LeBron James not experienced leg cramps—by the end of the third quarter.

New York, courtesy of Hurricane Sandy, will have yet to play its first game and will undoubtedly have its hands full against a Heat team that has almost as many stars as the Knicks rotation is deep.

So yes, there will be plenty to watch and follow here.

Time: Friday, November 2nd at 8 p.m. ET


Records: Miami Heat (1-0), New York Knicks (0-0)

Betting Line: Heat -5.5

Injuries (via CBS Sports)

Heat: Joel Anthony (hamstring), questionable; LeBron James (leg), probable; Dexter Pittman (hamstring), questionable.

Knicks: Ronnie Brewer (knee), probable; Marcus Camby (calf), questionable; Tyson Chandler (knee), probable; Iman Shumpert (knee), out; J.R. Smith (Achilles), questionable; Amar'e Stoudemire (knee), out.

Key Storylines: How will the depleted Knicks fair against South Beach's finest?

The Knicks are battered.

Not only is New York playing without its second-in-command in Stoudemire, but it is already down their best perimeter defender in Shumpert.

Throw in the questionable nature of Brewer and Chandler's knee, along with Camby's calf and Smith's Achilles, and there's simply no predicting the Knicks' rotation.

In all likelihood, Carmelo Anthony will step in to play power forward for Stoudemire. Even if Miami opts to go big, starting Kurt Thomas is simply not the way to go.

Outside of that, New York has plenty of holes to fill, and once it fills them, it will then be tasked with holding their home court against the reigning NBA champions, a team that has already dismantled the Celtics.

Battling the Heat with only a few healthy legs to stand on is never ideal. It's even less ideal for the Knicks, though, after missing out on a chance to get their injury-prone feet wet against the Brooklyn Nets.

So let's just consider this a matchup of the league's best superteam against the Association's most expensive work-in-progress.

Key Matchup: LeBron James, PF vs. Carmelo Anthony, PF

This isn't your average LeBron versus 'Melo matchup.

Both players will find themselves playing out of position, where they both thrive and both will look to prove to the other why they're destined for a career year.

Unlike James, though, Anthony has plenty more to prove.

Not only is this the first game of what needs to be a career year for the often-criticized Anthony, but he will be expected to shoulder even more of the offensive burden with Stoudemire watching from the sidelines.

As if that's not enough, 'Melo has to accept the reality that the quickest, most efficient way to prove he's a two-way pillar worthy of superstardom is to deliver against the league's best—James himself.

Anthony has historically had some success against LeBron, putting up career averages of 23 points and six rebounds on 44.3 percent shooting from the field. His teams are also 9-6 in the regular season against The Chosen One.

That said, Anthony's Knicks are just 1-2 against James' Heat and 2-6 overall. 

A breathtaking performance by 'Melo will prove to be the difference between New York remaining competitive in this contest.

On the flip side, you have LeBron, who has almost nothing to prove at this point.

However, as minor as his leg cramps may seem, James' injury could prove to be a deterrence if it creeps up again. Regardless of how star-studded Miami's roster is, he remains the heart of its offense.

In fact, without LeBron, the Heat watched a 17-point lead nearly disappear against the Celtics, allowing them to come as close as four before closing out for good.

Which makes James' dominance, and his ability to stay on the court in general, vital to Miami's success here.

X-Factors: Ray Allen, SG, Heat

Allen proved to be an X-factor in Miami's victory over Boston and will definitely be one against New York as well.

It's not just that Allen can score in a multitude of ways, it's that he's finally free to do so with the Heat.

As a member of the Celtics, he was restricted to being a spot-up shooter, but as we saw against his former team merely days ago, he has the green light to create off the dribble now, rendering him even more of an offensive threat.

Which is bad news for the Knicks, who are not only down their best perimeter defender in Shumpert, but must monitor their best interior defender in Chandler, who is adept at preventing dribble penetration.

Throw in James' potential injury and the Heat will need Allen to have another big night.

Chris Copeland, PF, Knicks

Don't laugh.

New York is down the offensive punch that Stoudemire provides, so it will need Copeland to step up and score the way he used to.

Look for the 28-year-old rookie to play substantial minutes, especially if Camby is sidelined, and for the Knicks to feature him early in an attempt to catch Miami off guard.

If the high-scoring forward is to be truly effective, though, New York will also need him to up the ante on defense and the glass.

Simply put, if the Knicks wish to emerge from Madison Square Garden victorious, they need a productive night from Copeland just as much as they do from 'Melo.

Shane Battier, SF, Heat

The Knicks don't always shoot the three-ball efficiently, but they like to shoot it often.

Enter Battier.

Miami's small forward is one of the best perimeter defenders in the game, and the Heat will need him to ensure Steve Novak, Jason Kidd, Raymond Felton and Smith (should he play) don't receive too many open looks from the behind the rainbow.

His ability to limit New York's three-point opportunities will ultimately help the Heat close out their reeling counterparts sooner rather than later.

Ronnie Brewer, SG, Knicks

Brewer is most likely going to start for New York, and while he has never been much of a scorer, the Knicks are going to need him to play plenty of minutes.

With Shumpert out and Smith nursing an Achilles injury, Brewer instantly becomes New York's best perimeter defender.

Which means he will be asked to contain the likes of Dwyane Wade, Rashard Lewis, Allen and, at times, even LeBron.

If the Knicks wish to come out the other side of this game with, at the very least, a respectable showing, they'll need Brewer to play efficiently dominant perimeter defense.

Depth Charts: Here's at look at both Miami's and New York's most recent depth charts:



Prediction: Heat 107, Knicks 99

I personally don't expect Miami to come into New York and rip-roll the ailing Knicks.

As prolific as the Heat are, the Knicks will come out—especially 'Melo—with a chip on their shoulder looking to make Miami the first victim of what they hope will be a championship cause.

Anthony will have a huge night, and unexpected heroes such as Felton and even Copeland will emerge.

That said, while there will be no extensive fourth-quarter breaks for James in this one, the Heat simply have too much consistent firepower for New York to handle.

Brewer may help contain Wade on the perimeter and Chandler will shut down Chris Bosh, but James will go point-for-point, if not more, against Anthony. The Heat's bench will also trump the Knicks', led by the versatile stylings of both Allen and Lewis.

Yes, this one will be close—closer than many believe.

But the Knicks aren't going to prove to be the Heat's Kryptonite.

Not in their current state.


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