8:00 PM ET, April 2, 2013
AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL
While the Heat will be short-handed, they should have plenty of extra incentive when the rivals wrap up their season series Tuesday night in Miami.
The defending champion Heat (58-15) sit alone atop the NBA after winning 29 of 30 and have built a sizable advantage over division leaders New York (46-26) and Indiana in the Eastern Conference.
Even with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers sitting out, Miami moved closer to securing home-court advantage throughout the playoffs Sunday when Chris Bosh hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 1.9 seconds left in an 88-86 victory at West-leading San Antonio.
The absences of James (hamstring), Wade (ankle) and Chalmers (ankle) takes some of the luster off this contest, but the Heat have been able to play well with makeshift lineups. James missed his first game Sunday, and the Heat are 6-1 without Wade.
"We are the defending champs no matter who we put out there," Bosh said. "We are still the Miami Heat. We believe in ourselves. Each one of these guys is a professional."
Since Miami's 27-game winning streak came to end in Chicago on Wednesday, New York has owned the league's top winning streak. The Knicks extended their run to eight with a 108-89 home victory over Boston on Sunday.
They also took another step toward their first Atlantic Division title in 19 years by taking a 4 1/2-game lead on second-place Brooklyn.
"I think we're just clicking at the right time," swingman Iman Shumpert said. "Going in the playoffs, everybody's got a different focus. Guys got a little more pep in their step and everybody's locked in."
The Knicks haven't won nine in a row since winning 15 straight during the 1993-94 season and they'll face their toughest test of the streak against the Heat, who have the league's second-best home record at 32-3.
Miami has already wrapped up its third straight Southeast Division title and home-court advantage in the East. The Heat will try to earn a split of the season series after dropping the first two by 20 points each and rallying to win the last meeting 99-93 in New York on March 3.
The Pacers and Bulls are also 2-1 against Miami this season.
The Heat will have to find a way to replace James' season averages of 27.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and 7.0 assists against the Knicks. Bosh, however, has scored 13.3 per game while shooting 35.7 percent.
New York has limited opponents to 91.5 points per game during its streak and has held the Heat to 91.7 -- 11.6 below their season average.
Carmelo Anthony missed the Knicks' 112-92 victory in Miami on Dec. 6 because of a lacerated finger. He's averaged 34.5 points in his last four games against the Heat, including the 2012 playoffs.
Knicks All-Star center Tyson Chandler, who has missed the past 10 games with a neck injury, is expected to be a game-time decision.
The Knicks have scored 107.8 per game and hit 41.1 percent from 3-point range over their last five contests. They'll likely have a difficult time matching that production against a Miami defense that has limited opponents to an average of 82.3 points and 24.6 percent shooting from beyond the arc in its last three at home.
The Heat have won nine of 11 meetings in Miami, including three victories in last year's playoffs.
Last 5 Games
Team Stat Leaders
From Elias: Miami playing without LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers tonight against the Knicks could have MAJOR repercussions, especially if history repeats itself. The Knicks defeated the Heat by 20 points on December 6th in Miami... their 2nd 20-point victory over the defending champs this season. If New York wins tonight by at least 20 points, it would mark the 3rd time this season the Knicks would win by at least 20 points vs the Heat. According to the Elias Sports Bureau... No team has ever won an NBA championship in a season in which they lost three times by 20+ points to the same opponent.
Even if LeBron James and/or Dwyane Wade miss Tuesday's game against the Knicks, the Heat could find themselves in a position to win. The Heat average 3.9 points more per 100 possessions than opponents when James or Wade are off the court, which would still rank as the eighth-best differential in the NBA this season.[+]
The Knicks made 37 3-point field goals while shooting 46.3 percent from three in two wins against the Heat this season. In their loss to the Heat, the Knicks went 8-of-29 (27.6 percent) from three.[+]
Knicks 3-pt FG Pct - This Season vs Heat
ESPN Stats & Information