Miami Heat will face a New York Knicks team with more weapons

 

 

The addition of Derrick Rose to Kristaps Porzingis (l) and Carmelo Anthony (r) have the the Knicks above .500. (Getty Images)
The addition of Derrick Rose to Kristaps Porzingis (L) and Carmelo Anthony (R) have the the Knicks above .500. (Getty Images)

MIAMI – Few rivalries provided the intensity and drama of the Heat and Knicks of the late ‘90s when the teams met four consecutive years in the playoff, all going the distance with New York winning three.

Then came the lost decade and a half for the Knicks. Since the 1999-2000 season, New York has won one playoff series and averaged 49 losses a season (not including the lock-out shortened 2011-12 season).

Meanwhile, the Heat have won three titles and played in five Finals.

When the two teams meet tonight for the first of three games this season, the Knicks will have won 6-of-8 to go two games over .500 this late in the season for the first time in four years. They added Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah among others to go along with Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis.

Although this is a short-term fix considering Anthony’s age and Rose’s and Noah’s injury history, New York has improved offensively through 20 games and could make a playoff run.

“They’re playing at a different level,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “You have proven high-level NBA guys that you have to game plan for.”

Porzingis, 21, the team’s foundation, is averaging 20.6 points and 7.4 rebounds. While the Phil Jackson era has been mainly a bust (he was named president in 2014), drafting the 7-foot-3 Porzingis with the fourth overall pick in 2015 is the highlight.

“Porzingis is bringing it (and) like so many guys in that draft class is super unique, his skill set and size,” Spoelstra said.

Anthony leads the Knicks with a 22.5 average. Rose is adding 17.0 points and 4.9 assists. Noah has been a disappointment despite leading the team with 7.9 rebounds. He is averaging just 3.9 points.

“It looks like Derrick Rose is healthy and as explosive and confident as he’s been in a long time,” Spoelstra said. “He looks like the Derrick Rose we know. You’re happy for him. For him to go out there and perform and be healthy every single night. Anthony is somebody you have to put two guys on the ball often times. It’s a requirement because of the mismatch and his ability.”

Anthony’s scored 50 points against the Heat on April 2, 2013.

The Knicks are 15th in the league in scoring at 104.3 points per game. A year ago they finished 27th with 98.4 points. The defense, though, has slipped coming in at 15th, allowing 106.5 ppg. Last year they were 10th at 101.1 ppg.

“So often in this league you come up with a lot of different storylines but if a team isn’t healthy. …” Spoelstra said. “You have three guys that are high-level NBA guys. The roster is improved, but three guys that are playing healthy and confident right now.”

[Miami Heat’s Wayne Ellington steps up game after improving conditioning]

[Heat forward James Johnson disappointed in himself for letting down team in Portland]

[Miami Heat’s Josh McRoberts credits improvement to more time at power forward]

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Three things to watch this week: Miami Heat to face two familiar faces

Dwyane Wade and the Heat were all hugs when he returned to Miami last month. (AP Photo)
Dwyane Wade and the Heat were all hugs when he returned to Miami last month. (AP Photo)

The Heat have four games this week starting Tuesday at home against the Knicks before heading back on the road for three more.

But it’s the final two games of the week that will draw the most interest. Miami will face its two most famous alumni on back-to-back nights, traveling to Cleveland Friday to meet LeBron James and the world champion Cavaliers for the first time this season and hopping over to Chicago the next night for their second look this season at Dwyane Wade.

Here are three things to watch.

New look Knicks: The Heat face the Knicks for the first time this season. New York has won three straight and 6-of-8 to climb back over .500 (11-9). The Knicks hope adding veterans Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah to Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis can make them relevant again. The Knicks have been among the most dysfunctional organizations in sports in the last 15 years, having reached the playoffs once while continuing to carry a bloated payroll despite failing time after time to land its targeted free agents. Still, adding Rose and Noah is a short-term fix.

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade: The Heat get their first look at James on Thursday since he brought Cleveland a title. James returned to his hometown three years ago after leading the Heat to four consecutive Finals appearances and two titles. He has stretched his streak of playing in the Finals to six consecutive years. Wade will face his old mates for the second time, first in Chicago. Wade was pedestrian in his celebrated return to Miami after spending 13 years with the Heat, scoring 13 points on 5-of-17 shooting. Wade has been a nice complement to leading scorer Jimmy Butler, averaging 19.1 points.

Better health: Miami is coming off a successful 2-1 road trip out West despite being shorthanded. Justice Winslow (wrist) and Dion Waiters (groin) didn’t travel on the trip, Josh Richardson (ankle) also missed all three games and Luke Babbitt (hip) went down in the first quarter of the second game. Winslow has missed 11 games but appears to be the closest among the group to returning. He will go through a hard practice today and could play Tuesday. Babbitt and Richardson are day-to-day while Waiters will be re-evaluated in about 10 days. Miami has yet to play a game this season with its entire roster healthy.

[Off successful road trip, Miami Heat turn focus to winning at home]

[Miami Heat’s Josh McRoberts credits improvement to more time at power forward]

[Miami Heat making progress, but season remains all about development of four young players]

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2016 NBA free agency: Should the Heat look to sign center Joakim Noah?

Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (21) drives to the basket as Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (13) defends during the second half at American Airlines Arena. (Photo from Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY)
Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (21) drives to the basket as Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (13) defends during the second half at American Airlines Arena. (Photo from Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY)

The Heat are very familiar with Bulls center Joakim Noah’s skill set.

Noah has averaged 9.5 points and 8.8 rebounds in 23 games against Miami over his career. But is it now time for the Heat to bring Noah to their side? Continue reading “2016 NBA free agency: Should the Heat look to sign center Joakim Noah?”