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Heat vs. Knicks: Key Storylines for New York's Season Opener

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)
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Mike ShiekmanFeatured ColumnistDecember 26, 2016

The New York Knicks were hoping to start their season Wednesday night in Brooklyn, but will have to settle with a home game against the Miami Heat on Friday.

The tumultuous week ends with the last team the Knicks want to face in their regular-season opener.

Alas, NBA fans everywhere rejoice as the Heat-Knicks rivalry features two of their favorite teams to watch (h/t Marc Stein and Josh Krulewitz):

MT @jksports: ESPN Sports Poll on fans' favorite teams top 10: Lakers, Heat, Celtics, Bulls, Knicks, Thunder, Mavs, Spurs, Pistons, Sixers

— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) October 30, 2012

Last season, Jeremy Lin, Shane Battier and fire extinguishers joined the party. Now Ray Allen and Jason Kidd, among others, can get in on the fun. It will be a superstar extravaganza at The Garden, both on and off the floor. Concerning the hardwood, here’s what to watch for.

 

Will the Knicks Be Better Off Without Amar’e?

Stoudemire will be sidelined for six to eight weeks for a left knee “debridement” according to ESPN.

Stoudemire’s injury, though, may be a blessing in disguise for the Knickerbockers because it will free up Carmelo Anthony on the offensive end. Remember when Stoudemire went out last April? The Knicks went 9-4 and ‘Melo won the East’s Player of the Month honors.

So even though he might say he’s missing Amar’e, we know better.

Anthony may be better off, but will the rest of the Knicks? They’ll need their old guard to step up in their first regular season game all together. Tough task, even for a glut of wily veterans. They are going up against the defending champions, after all.

 

How Will the Heat’s Small Ball Fare Against New York?

The Heat’s positionless, small-ball, three-point bombing attack executed with flying colors against a relatively small Celtics team. Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis fit in the offense seamlessly, while LeBron James’s absence due to cramps did not become an issue.

Will the positionless approach fare any worse against a bigger foe at MSG?

Tyson Chandler is high on the list of Miami’s main foes, as his rim-protecting in the 2011 Finals was well-documented. If the Knicks can get a rejuvenated Marcus Camby to provide similar basket defense as well, the Heat will have to settle for jump shots.

Against this talented Heat roster, turning them into jump shooters may be the best outcome to hope for.

 

Who Will Own the Garden: Carmelo, LeBron, Wade or Bosh?

Madison Square Garden brings out the best in the league’s superstars, but which of the 2003 draft class will shine brightest.

All four have had historic games in their careers at MSG; even Bosh had a 40-point, 11-rebound performance with Toronto. James has had two 50-point games at The Garden as a Cavalier.

The Heat Big Three bring a 6-2 record against New York into MSG this season. Carmelo, on the other hand, has not fared well against the Heat since joining the Knicks two seasons ago.

He has a flair for the dramatic, though, dropping 41 points in Game 4 of the first round to avoid a Heat sweep last season.

He’ll look to build on that with a big game Friday. His team will need it.

 

Mike Shiekman is a Breaking News Writer for Bleacher Report

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