Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Heat are scheduled to play the New York Knicks Friday at Madison Square Garden, right in the heart of the area left devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Count Heat superstar Dwyane Wade as one who is questioning the move to play the game this soon.
“3 hour traffic just to get into the NY City..C’monMan (sic),” Wade tweeted. “Traffic tweet was meant 2 say…We shouldn’t B hre (sic) 2 play a basketball game when theirs (sic) so many families obviously still r affected by #Sand”
The NBA drew fire earlier in the week when they initially planned to have the Brooklyn Nets play their first scheduled game of the season in the immediate aftermath of the storm’s destruction. But even now, the area is nowhere near back to functioning at a high level.
The subway system was flooded and transportation in and out of Manhattan has been limited since the day after the storm passed over New York City.
Yet it’s against that backdrop the Heat travel to Madison Square Garden Friday night. For the NBA, and possibly for New Yorkers, it will be a way to rally around the hometown team as the defending NBA champions come to town.
The Heat is coming off a 120-107 victory over the Boston Celtics in the opening game of the regular season. The battle with the Knicks will be Miami’s first chance to see the new-look Knicks after an offseason of tinkering with their roster.
The Knicks will be without power forward/center Amar’e Stoudemire, but will have veterans Marcus Camby and possibly Rasheed Wallace available. Plus, the Knicks will hope to welcome back JR Smith to the lineup.
But the Knicks will also be facing a brand new Miami Heat team that looked even more lethal against the Celtics than last year’s championship Heat team. The Heat added Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis to the roster and both paid dividends in the first game.
Allen, arguably the NBA’s greatest 3-point shooter ever, scored 19 points on 5-7 shooting and 7 of 8 from the free throw line. Lewis added 10 points and 5 rebounds to the Heat’s victory as well.
The added scoring punch off the bench eases the burden on LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to score in bunches to keep the Heat in a game. James played just less than 29 minutes in the first game, mainly due to cramping issues in the second-half.
The Heat and Knicks tip off Friday night just after 8 p.m. and the game can be seen on Sun Sports/ESPN.