If the current NBA standings are any indication, the showdown between the Miami Heat and the New York Knicks is a preview of the most likely Eastern Conference Finals matchup.
Miami currently has the East’s best record and is on a 13-game winning streak while New York is in second.
In addition to featuring the conference’s two best teams, this matchup will also feature its two best players. Carmelo Anthony ranks second in the NBA in scoring, and LeBron James is third—with both players trailing Kevin Durant.
Here is everything you need to know about the game.
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, N.Y.
When: Sunday, March 3, 1 p.m. ET
Listen: 790 AM/104.3 FM/710 AM (Miami), 98.7 FM (New York)
Betting Line: Not available as of March 1
Heat Injuries (via CBS Sports)
None to report
Knicks Injuries (via CBS Sports)
C Marcus Camby, Out, Foot
PF Rasheed Wallace, Out, Foot
Key Storyline: Clash of the Titans
These are without question the two premier teams in the Eastern Conference.
Miami boasts more star power than any team in basketball, while New York has incredible depth and a superstar of its own in Anthony.
However, the Knicks will have to prove that they are a legitimate contender and that the East does not consist of just the Heat and everybody else.
If New York cannot find a way to be competitive in front of its home crowd in this game, it will be a sign that Miami has an easy path to play for another title.
Key Matchup: LeBron James vs. Carmelo Anthony
LeBron James is averaging 27.3 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.3 assists per night while shooting 56.8 percent from the floor and 41.1 percent from beyond the three-point line.
But the most impressive part of those numbers is that he is often contributing to those incredible averages while guarding the opposition’s best player.
Carmelo Anthony is one of the most dominant scorers of his generation, and he will ensure that James’ defensive duties will be extremely difficult in this matchup.
The Knicks star’s ability to tire James out on defense will be crucial to New York’s chances in this contest.
How would you describe the balance of power in the East right now?
Projected Starting Lineups
Udonis Haslem, PF
LeBron James, SF
Chris Bosh, C
Mario Chalmers, PG
Dwyane Wade, SG
Carmelo Anthony, PF
Iman Shumpert, SF
Tyson Chandler, C
Raymond Felton, PG
Jason Kidd, SG
Prediction: Miami 106, New York 97
James ability to dominate on both ends of the floor will ensure that he wins the matchup with Anthony.
Even if the reigning MVP does not have a superb offensive night, Dwyane Wade’s scoring contribution will ensure that Miami puts up enough points to get a victory.
The Heat have dominated recently, as evidenced by their 13-game winning streak. The team is red hot and out to make statements ahead of the postseason.
Miami will send a message in this game and cruise past the Knicks.