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Friday, January 31, 2014
W2W4: Knicks vs. Heat

By Ian Begley

Here are a few things to keep an eye on during Saturday's Knicks-Heat game:

Heat check: Sure the Knicks have won four in a row, but they've done it while facing some of the worst teams in the league.

The Knicks' last four opponents are a combined 53 games under .500. So Saturday's showdown with Miami will be a litmus test for New York, which went 10-6 in January.

Mike Woodson's Knicks are 7-16 against teams that entered the weekend with a record of .500 or better.

If recent history is any indication, the Knicks may have a slight edge over Miami. New York has won four of the last five against the Heat -- all by at least 10 points.

During their current four-game winning streak, the Knicks are averaging 116.6 points and have hit 47-of-99 3-pointers, according to STATS LLC.

They've been led, naturally, by Carmelo Anthony.

Anthony had a Knicks and MSG record 62 points against Charlotte last Friday. He has scored 37.5 points per game on 54 percent shooting in the last four games.

He seems to be thriving at the power forward spot for New York (19-27). Anthony has been playing power forward for the last four games because of an elbow injury to Andrea Bargnani.

It should also be noted that Anthony has put up 36.6 points per game over his last five games against Miami.

J.R. back? The last time the Heat were in town, J.R. Smith was glued to the bench. He was being disciplined by the Knicks in the wake of attempts to untie two of his opponents shoe laces.

The Heat will have to account for Smith on Saturday.

The shooting guard has played extremely well since being benched (he sat against Charlotte two games after the Heat benching as well).

In his last eight games, Smith is scoring 16.4 points per game on 45 percent shooting.

He has knocked down 44 percent of his 3-point attempts.

"I think he's playing more relaxed, engaged, in tune to what we want done from a basketball standpoint," Woodson said after the win over the Cavs on Thursday.

Smith started Thursday in place of Iman Shumpert, who is sidelined because of a shoulder injury. Shumpert probably will be a game-time decision Saturday.

If he can't go, Smith may have to guard Dwyane Wade.

Kenyon and Amar'e healthy? Shumpert isn't the only injury issue for the Knicks. Kenyon Martin and Amar'e Stoudemire may be out because of ankle injuries.

Martin has missed six of the last seven games and Stoudemire has missed the last seven. It's unclear if either will play against Miami.

If they can't go, the Knicks will lean on Jeremy Tyler and Cole Aldrich.

The young big men have filled in admirably for the Knicks in the last four games.

In his last four games, Tyler is averaging 16.3 points on 60 percent shooting and 10.1 rebounds per 36 minutes. Aldrich is averaging an astronomical 15.4 rebounds per 36 minutes in his last five games.

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