- Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer
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Some NBA analysts and fans think the Eastern Conference playoffs are almost a waste of time this year. The Heat, they say, are a lock to return to the NBA Finals.
Raymond Felton disagrees with those people. Strongly.
In fact, the veteran Knicks point guard says he "loves" New York's chances in a potential playoff series with the defending champion Heat.
"We're definitely one of the teams who gave Miami the most fits this year, so if we get the opportunity to play them in the [Eastern Conference] finals, then I kinda like our chances. I love our chances, actually," Felton told ESPNNewYork.com on Thursday.
The Knicks enter play Friday in third place in the Eastern Conference, a half-game behind Indiana.
A top-three finish in the conference means the Knicks would avoid facing the Heat until the conference final, assuming they advance that far.
If they do, Felton believes the Knicks would present Miami with a major "matchup problem."
"I'm not just saying that just because I'm a New York Knick and just being biased," he said. "I just feel like we really cause matchup problems for them offensively, and then we match up well with them defensively. Like I said, I like our chances. Right now, we're winning the [season] series and we've got one more game left. So we'll see what happens."
The Knicks have won two of three against the Heat this season. They beat the Heat twice in the first six weeks of the season but lost the most recent matchup at the Garden earlier this month.
The Knicks and Heat play for the fourth and final time in the regular season on Tuesday in Miami.
"I can't wait. I can't wait," Felton said.
Felton was instrumental in the Knicks' road win over Miami on Dec. 6. With Carmelo Anthony sidelined due to a cut on his left hand, Felton poured in 27 points and handed out seven assists in the Knicks' 20-point win.
Felton was asked if point guard is one area where he thought the Knicks had an advantage against Miami, which had its win streak snapped at 27 games on Wednesday.
"I'm not saying that's a weak point [for the Heat] because [Mario] Chalmers has been great for Miami. He's won a championship there and he's a solid point guard," Felton said. "But I think that's one of the weaknesses of their team. Not saying that Chalmers is a bad player, because he's not. He's great. He's won a championship. A lot of point guards in this league can't say that. He has that. But if you look at LeBron, Bosh and D-Wade and then you look at Chalmers, you're like, 'OK, this is maybe where their weakness is at.'
"But they really don't have too many weaknesses. I'll just say that we match up well with them, that's all."
FELTON IN BK TO HELP YOUTH: Felton spoke from a Boost Mobile on Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn, where he greeted about 400 fans, promoted the NBA Game Time Plus app, and raised money for Athletes for Charity, a local nonprofit dedicated to charitable efforts which benefit disadvantaged children.
"I just want to help kids as much as I can. If there's any opportunity where I can be a part of something like that, I'm all in it," Felton said. "Just to put a smile on a kid's face or a fan or whoever, it puts a smile on my face."
FINALLY HEALTHY: Felton missed five weeks earlier this season with a fractured right pinky. He's been back on the floor since late January, but said in an interview with ESPN New York 98.7 FM that he just recently started to feel fully comfortable on the court.
"To be honest with you, I just got comfortable maybe three of four games ago when I finally got the [medical] tape off my hand. It took 12 weeks exactly," Felton said in an interview on "The Michael Kay Show."
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11dKevin Pelton and Chad Ford