Coming off of three straight losses, the Knicks will be back home tonight against the Heat looking to notch a win.
With an average loss margin of 13 points over their three-game losing streak, the Knicks have not been playing great basketball as of late. They lost a winnable game in Atlanta, then moved on to Houston, a game that saw them start out hot but understandably flame out without their starting frontcourt. On Monday night, the Blazers came in and proceeded to blow the doors off of New York, despite a belated comeback attempt in the fourth by the Knicks. Tonight, the Miami Heat are in town, hoping to bury the Knicks for the fourth straight game. The Heat are winners of three of their last four, and are on the tail end of a back-to-back set after losing in Cleveland last night. A few thoughts:
- For the Knicks, Enes Kanter is expected to be back in the lineup. His absence has coincided with New York’s losing streak, and while he may not get his normal load of minutes, his presence will be a welcomed sight. In his stead, Willy Hernangómez has basically looked like a player that had spent no meaningful time on the court all season. Giving those minutes at the five back to Kanter and Kyle O’Quinn, who is always going to fill his role in the 20 minutes he sees the floor, should help the Knicks immensely.
- Joakim Noah played this morning in Westchester, along with Damyean Dotson. They will both be back with the big club for tonight’s game. Check out everything about Noah’s performance tonight here.
- For the Heat, Hassan Whiteside will be out tonight with a sore knee. This will be Whiteside’s sixth missed game of the season, but his first since he missed five contests in October. The knee has been a lingering issue for Whiteside, as he hasn’t played 30 minutes in a game since November 17th. In lieu of Whiteside, the likes of Kelly Olynyk and perhaps Bam Adebayo should pick up extra minutes. Advantage: New York.
- Defense has been a huge issue for the Knicks over this three-game stretch, with the three-point shot representing the biggest headache. The Knicks allow the highest share of three-point attempts per game in the entire league, per Cleaning the Glass, while the Heat have the third-highest share of three-pointers. The Knicks will need to keep an eye on Dion Waiters, Wayne Ellington, and Josh Richardson to prevent them from wreaking havoc from downtown. The Heat also allow the lowest amount of three-pointers, funny enough.
- Following a couple down years, Goran Dragic has started to resemble the All-NBA performer that he was for the 2013-14 Phoenix Suns. He’s averaging 18.6 points and 4.6 assists for Miami this year, representing a challenge for the guards of New York tonight. Dennis Schroder, James Harden, and Damian Lillard have demolished the Knicks recently, so if the Heat win, Dragic will likely be the headline.
- The Heat are a team that struggles to score enough with Whiteside in the lineup, so with him out, they could have issues generating attention in the paint from the Knicks. They have the personnel to heat up (*ahem*) from deep, and those guys should get every opportunity for that chance tonight. With the aforementioned frequency at which this Knicks team gives up threes, they’d better hope Dion Waiters doesn’t pretend like he’s playing Golden State and go bonkers.
- Seeing Knicks-Heat still gets me riled up for the old bouts. Nothing made me happier than the Knicks getting to match up against LeBron and the Heatles a few years ago. Safe to say the same appeal doesn’t quite exist anymore.
- Enes Kanter should really be able to eat tonight against this Miami squad sans-Whiteside. The Heat are 28th in the NBA in offensive rebounds per game, and when you take Whiteside out of that picture, Kanter should be licking his chops for a big return.
Tip is at 7:30 P.M. at the World’s Most Famous Arena. After tonight’s battle, the Knicks won’t be in action again until Sunday, when they’ll take on Orlando in New York.