Who plays and who rests?
That’s the big question for this game (and for the rest of the regular season). Last game against the Spurs, the Heat rested LeBron, Wade, and Chalmers. In addition, Spoelstra has said that all players are day to day for the rest of the season, which means that with nine games left (six games at home) and a four game lead for the first overall seed (which would guarantee home court advantage for the playoffs), Spoelstra is probably going to be resting a bunch of players.
Looking at the game, the Knicks have a (2-1) record versus the Heat; consequently, the Knicks are one of three teams (Bulls and Pacers are the other teams) that have winning records against the Heat. The Knicks’ success against the Heat stems largely from their three point shooting — they’ve been shooting at a robust 41.3% clip against the Heat. Lots of threes means lots of rebounds, and if the Heat can actually rebound (they are last in the NBA in rebounds per game) that will help stymie the Knicks’ offense and prevent those critical second chance points.
The third key to game, after three point shooting and rebounding, is J.R. Smith and Carmelo Anthony. Both of those guys have a 30%+ usage rate so they are used a lot (relatively speaking) when they play. How well the Heat defend Smith and Anthony will help dictate the flow of the game, and the Knicks effectiveness on offense. For example, the Knicks have a +/- of +4.9 when Smith plays, and a +/- of +1.2 when he doesn’t, and the Knicks are +5.2 when Carmelo plays and +1.3 when he doesn’t.
The game will be at American Airlines Arena in Miami and broadcast on TNT (8PM).
Tyson Chandler (Questionable)
Kurt Thomas, Amare Stoudamire, Rasheed Wallace (Out)
LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Mario Chalmers (Questionable)
Highlights from last Heat vs. Knicks game: