By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
Knicks vs. Heat | American Airlines Arena
When: Tuesday | 8:00 PM
Where to Watch: TNT
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
New York: The Knicks are playing as well as you could hope for with just 10 games left in the regular season. But even with an 8-game winning streak, there is plenty on the line each night as they battle Indiana for the 2 seed (and home court advantage through the first two rounds of the playoffs). They know tonight could be a possible Eastern Conference Finals preview, and believe that after beating Miami twice already this season, all they have to do is play their game to win.
UPDATE: Tyson Chandler will play and start. Kenyon Martin will come off the bench.
Miami: The Heat went on a little streak of their own, if you hadn't heard -- they won 27 straight before losing to the Bulls about a week ago. In the process, they locked up the top seed, affording Coach Erik Spoelstra the option to rest his stars. Not that that stops them -- Miami went to San Antonio and beat the Spurs with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers all in street clothes.
UPDATE: James (ankle), Wade (hamstring) and Chalmers (ankle) will all be out tonight, as well.
Last Time Out
New York: The Knicks picked up their 8th straight victory by beating the Celtics at the Garden, 108-89, on Sunday.
Miami: Playing without three starters, a Chris Bosh 3 in the final seconds lifted them to a 88-86 win in San Antonio on Sunday.
The Numbers Game
In honor of his Eastern Conference Player of the Week Selection: Over the past four games, J.R. Smith averaged 29.8 points on 54% shooting and 46% from 3. He's even taken his attacking to another level, making 10 trips to the free throw line per game.
Matchup to Watch
Iman Shumpert vs. LeBron James
We can expect to see all sorts of matchups tonight, but if LeBron plays, these two should face off. As he continues to progress from offseason knee surgery, Shumpert's lateral quickness and defensive focus have been among the first things to return. James is such a tough cover because he can do everything on the court and he now seems to have gained total control of the game. What Shumpert can do to disrupt him is to pressure him when he has the ball and get him to pass. You will also see the Knicks switch on screens, like usual, and bring help when needed.
What to Look For
You never know what you are going to get with either of these teams when it comes to lineup combinations. You could see three point guards together for the Knicks or a collection of all 2s an 3s for Miami. Who knows? Should be fascinating to watch. We could also see Tyson Chandler return. If he does and he's anywhere near full strength, you'd think the Knicks would have an advantage down low.