New York Knicks and Miami Heat Battle For Best in East

By A.J. Speier
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

When the New York Knicks last played the Miami Heat, they came away with a 104-84-statement victory in their season-opener at Madison Square Garden.

Now, American Airlines Arena will get a chance to host a matchup between the top two teams in the Eastern Conference. The game will also be nationally televised on TNT on Thursday night at 8:00 p.m. ET.

The Knicks (13-4) began their season winning their first six games, before going 3-4 through their next seven games and then starting up their current four-game winning streak.

The Heat (12-4) went on a four-game winning streak after their loss to the Knicks, dropped two of their next three games and then saw their recent six-game winning streak get snapped by the Washington Wizards 105-101 on Tuesday night.

It’s still a mystery as to whether Carmelo Anthony will dress for the game after suffering a lacerated finger in the Knicks’ 100-98 come-from-behind victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday night.

If Anthony is able to play, the Heat will be facing the NBA’s third-leading scorer. Anthony is averaging 26.4 points per game.

“He’s a top-three preparation cover in the league,” Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said. “For our coaching staff, he’s a nightmare because he can do it everywhere on the floor that you can imagine.”

If Anthony is unable to go, the Knicks offense will likely go through Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler. In the last two games, Felton is averaging 20 points and eight assists and Chandler is averaging 16.5 points and 15.0 rebounds.

“They’re a team that creates a lot of problems for your defense,” Lebron James said, “It starts with Tyson and Raymond Felton in their pick-and-roll and also with one of the greatest scorers that we’ve all seen in Melo.”

The Heat have two players in the top ten in NBA scoring. James is the fourth-leading scorer, averaging 24.8 points and Chris Bosh is tied for ninth with an average of 19.3 points.

Point guards Mario Chalmers (torn finger tendon) and Norris Cole (strained groin) will be game-time decisions and power forward Udonis Haslem (hip pointer) will miss the game.

The Knicks have the third-best 3-point shooting team in the league with a 40.8-percent accuracy. Jason Kidd is the league leader at 51.1-percent and Anthony is tied for 18th at 43.5-percent.

The Heat are the second-best 3-point shooting team at 41.3-percent accuracy. Ray Allen is tied for third in 3-point shooting at 50-percent, Rashard Lewis is seventh, making 48.5-percent and Shane Battier is eleventh at 45.8-percent.

The Key matchup will be Chandler and Bosh. Chandler is the league’s most accurate field goal shooter at 72.1-percent and Bosh is the fifth most accurate at 56.0-percent.

While, the Knicks have remained perfect at home with a 7-0 record, the Heat are also perfect at home with an 8-0 record.

Who is the better team right now? We’re about to find out.

Follow A.J. Speier on Twitter @Ajbisons for articles, news, and all things NBA

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