Opening Tip: 'Heat check' for Knicks?

The Knicks still have 48 games to play, but Mike Woodson knows his team needs to start winning soon to turn things around.

"Hell, our backs are against the wall, man," he said. "We've got to make a move now I think as a ball club if we are going to stay in the race."

That adds a layer of intrigue to Thursday's game.

Normally, you wouldn't place much importance on a game in early January.

But the Knicks will enter the game 10 games under .500, playing well below expectations. They've played better of late, winning three of four, but have plenty of work to do to get back in contention.

So every game from here on out has an air of importance for Woodson's club.

Add the fact that the Knicks are playing the defending world champs, and you have a big game on your hands Thursday night. Even though it's only early January, is Thursday's Heat game a chance for the Knicks to make a statement?

Up Now: J.R. Smith has been fined $50,000 for his shoelace antics. The Knicks are growing tired with Smith's behavior and, according to sources, have started to gauge the trade market for Smith.

Mike Woodson thinks Smith's actions are unacceptable and unprofessional.

Woodson also thinks that the Knicks, if healthy, have what it takes to compete with the Heat.

Tyson Chandler, Kenyon Martin and Beno Udrih will be game-time decisions for the Heat game.

What's next: The Knicks play Miami on Thursday night. Tipoff is at 8 p.m.

Question: Do you look at Thursday's game as a "Heat Check" for the Knicks?

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