Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Heat have just one game left in the regular season. But the real focus of the team has shifted to Sunday’s likely first-round playoff matchup with the New York Knicks.
For Miami, the matchup with the Knicks should be easy to get through based on the way both teams played each other in the regular season. Miami played New York three times and won all three of the games with an average margin of victory of nearly 11 points per game.
Miami’s first game against the Knicks this season was in January when the heat beat New York 99-89. In that game, Heat stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade combined to score 59 points and pull down 10 rebounds while dishing out 11 assists. Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks was out for the first game.
Most remember Miami’s second game against the Knicks as the end of the Jeremy Lin“sanity” that had gripped the NBA. In the game, Miami’s stifling defense completely shut down Lin sending him to 1-11 shooting from the field and just 8 points in the game.
In the game, the Heat’s Big Three scored 67 points on 60 percent shooting from the field. The game’s final score was 102-88, but the game was never really that close. The Knicks were at full strength, but couldn’t get into an offensive flow under then coach Mike D’Antoni.
The final matchup was a little more than a week ago and saw the Heat’s Big Three again carrying the scoring load. LeBron, Wade, and Bosh combined to score 73 points on 51 percent shooting from the field and shooting 78 percent from the free throw line.
During the regular season, the Heat held the Knicks to nearly 10 points below their season scoring average (87.3 vs. Heat, 97.1 against rest of league) while also keeping the Knicks from getting to the lie as much (19.7 times a game vs. Heat, 24.8 vs. rest of league).
The one area where the Knicks did much better than average when playing the Heat was three-point shots attempted and three-point percentage. New York averaged nearly seven more three-point shots per game (30-23.2) and shot four percent (37.8-33.5) better from downtown than they did against the rest of the league.
There is still a slight chance the Heat could end up playing the Philadelphia 76ers, but much like New York; Miami didn’t lose a single game to Philadelphia this season.