In their previous meeting, the Knicks were without Carmelo Anthony, a known Lebron James nemesis/frienemy. Likewise, the Knicks now have a legitimate point guard presence in Lin, and the bench has become deep and dangerous with the arrivals of J.R. Smith and Baron Davis, the 3-point slinging ways of Steve Novak, and the hustle and pestering of Jared Jeffries.
Here's a look at what I'll be watching for tonight:
- HOW DOES JEREMY LIN REACT TO THE HEAT DEFENSE?!
- Lin has shown surprising composure when faced with tough, trapping defenses. Sure, his handle can get sloppy and he'll turn the ball over, but he still finds ways to score and set up teammates. However, you have to figure that if he starts causing problems, the Heat will send Lebron James or Dwyane Wade his way. Those two are elite perimeter defenders with considerable size and speed advantages on him. Lin has proven he's not shy (his two best games came against the two biggest opponents - L.A. and Dallas), but the Heat are in a category of their own and could present serious problems for him.
- The Heat have the advantage in having the two best players on the court in James and Wade, but they're weaker upfront than the Knicks. Tyson Chandler led a Mavericks team in the Finals that kept Wade and James from getting to the rim too easily. Likewise, Chandler is better than any center that the Heat can throw out there. When Stoudemire's in a groove, he's better than Chris Bosh, and Jared Jeffries has turned into a reliable big man off the bench because of his defense and hustle. If the Knicks can protect the paint, score in the paint, and win the rebounding battle, good things will happen.
- The Miami Heat don't boast big names on their bench like the Knicks do in Smith and Davis, but it does have some solid players. Shane Battier, Udonis Haslem, Norris Cole, and James Jones are all scrappy dudes, who have range on their jumpshots. Similar to the Knicks, they can cause some turnovers and make you pay for it. The Knicks bench will need to play some tough defense, rebound the ball, and Smith and Novak's shooting will be needed.
That's it everyone! Get ready! Don't walk into any booby traps or get into any intense thumb-wrestling tournaments and miss the 7:00 start. Go Knicks!