The Knicks (27-25) will try to rinse the taste of defeat against the Lakers out as they go up against the sixth-seed Miami Heat (29-23).

The Heat are coming off a win against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night, and have won seven of their last 10 contests as it seems they’re finally piecing it together after a sluggish start to the season. The Knicks, on the other hand, have been very streaky as of late. Out of their last ten, they’ve only won four, though the games they have won have been big ones, such as their victories against a healthy Cavs team and the league-best Boston Celtics who were only missing Marcus Smart.

Regardless, it’s a game that New York needs to try and win to establish some sort of stability as they approach All-Star weekend. Let’s take a look at some keys to the game for this matchup against Miami.

Win at home

The Knicks have been good on the road, but seem to collapse a bit at home. Whether it’s due to the pressure of fans expecting to see a show at the Garden or the chip on their shoulder entering many road games as underdogs remains unclear. But New York has a sub-.500 record at home so far this year, a poor mark for a playoff hopeful.

In addition to this, some recent rumblings about Cam Reddish’s usage prior to his 27-straight DNPs as well as the benching of RJ Barrett for the last 11 minutes of their overtime loss against the Lakers might have fans… louder than usual tonight. The Knicks really need to harness this energy and win back the home crowd against a Heat team that finally feels pretty level with them. If they can get a win against Miami tonight, they’d move up to just one game behind the Heat in the standings, earn a little wiggle room from the creeping Hawks and Wizards, and would get closer to a .500 at the Garden on the season.

Battle of the bigs

Bam Adebayo has quietly had a DPoY-level season with Miami, currently averaging nearly a block a game (0.8) along with 21.4 points and 10 rebounds. He also has a defensive rating of 109.1 this year. On the other side of things, the Knicks remain without Mitchell Robinson as he recovers from surgery on his thumb. Adebayo’s most logical matchup in the post, then, would be Knicks big man (and possible All-Star) Julius Randle. Randle is posting similar numbers on offense to Adebayo – 24.7 points per game, along with 10.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists – and his defensive rating is sitting at 109.8. But, Adebayo has the ability to battle with just about anyone on the floor. Recently in an interview with, he said, “I feel like I’ve been the best defender in the last two seasons. I can guard one through five and I can guard anybody on the court. In past seasons, that’s how I got on the court. Defense is how I got to where I am today. That’s never going to be away.”

Randle has the propensity to get some tunnel vision when a trap or double-team is thrown his way in the post. While his assist numbers have been way up and he has looked a lot better at avoiding silly turnovers similar to the ones he committed in his first year with the team, he will have to play a very clean game when on the floor with Adebayo if he wants to get his in the paint. Additionally, he will need help from either Isaiah Hartenstein or Jericho Sims to actually, effectively, play defense on the athletic Adebayo and keep him from having a signature game.

Tale of two teams

The Knicks are averaging 114.4 points per game this season, and in the month of January, that pretty much stayed the same (114.3). The Heat, on the other hand, have been averaging 108.5 points per game, but they had a 10-5 record in January compared to the Knicks’ record of 8-7. Over the entire history of their rivalry with one another, it has felt extremely one-sided in favor of the Heat as they’ve been able to showcase talents such as the “Big 3” and now the dynamic duo of Adebayo and Jimmy Butler. But, over the course of their 130 total games played in their regular season history, the Knicks actually have the advantage – 66 wins to Miami’s 64.

Big gap, right?

Another number that jumps out to Knicks and Heat fans alike – Butler in his career is 23-9 against New York. As a member of the Heat, he’s won six of his eight games against the Knicks. Look out for a big Butler performance as he’s averaging 22 points per game along with 4.9 assists and six rebounds despite some early season struggles. As we know, stars like him love to shine at the Garden.

Injury report

As of 9 A.M. on Feb. 2, the only injury for the Knicks reported is to Robinson (thumb). For Miami, Victor Oladipo is doubtful for tonight due to an ankle injury. Gabe Vincent is questionable with an ankle injury, as well. Orlando Robinson has been ruled out with a fractured thumb.

Related Content:

»Read: The Knicks Trade Deadline Primer 

»Read: Immanuel Quickley Is the Knicks’ Secret Defensive Weapon

»Read: Conference play check-in on 2023 Knicks’ draft targets