MIAMI (CBSMiami) – For the first time since Linsanity took hold in New York; the New York Knicks will come to the AmericanAirlines Arena to take on the Miami Heat Thursday night.
The game will feature the hottest team this year, at least according to ESPN and the New York media, versus the best team in the NBA, the Heat.
Miami is coming in on a seven-game winning streak and facing a Knicks team that has gone from teetering on the edge of completely collapsing this season, to a .500 basketball team. Still, the Knicks are only the seven seed in the Eastern Conference if the playoffs started today.
“It’s a great rags-to-riches story,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “That’s the bigger story. And hopefully years from now it’ll be about that, not about the ethnicity.”
It’s hard to argue with just how good Jeremy Lin has been playing in recent weeks. The Knicks have won nine of 11 games and during that streak he’s averaged 23.9 points and 9.2 assists per game. Not too shabby for a player who wasn’t even drafted and was sleeping on a friends couch.
“It proves that scouting in this league is not an exact science,” Spoelstra said.
“He’s obviously had a huge impact on that team,” Heat forward Chris Bosh said. “He’s a tremendous player. You know, we’re going to give him some attention.
But, as good as Lin has been, the competition he’s done the most damage against has been poor to say the least. Eight of the nine victories the Knicks have since Lin took over at the point have come against teams with losing records.
Now, Lin and the Knicks really step up in competition as they come to play the Heat in Miami.
To say the Heat have been red hot would be a gross understatement. Miami has won seven in a row and none of the games have been closer than double-digits during the current winning streak. The Heat have played so well, that Dwyane Wade and LeBron James have rarely played deep in the fourth quarter.
For the season, LeBron is averaging 27.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, 6.8 assists, and 1.6 steals per game and is looking like the eventual team NBA most valuable player this year. Not to be outdone, Dwyane Wade is averaging 22.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 1.5 blocks per game.
“It’s the game right before All-Star,” James said. “But it won’t be like ‘that’ game before All-Star, like people are accustomed to. Everybody always says, you know, the game before All-Star, people are ready to get to All-Star weekend. I don’t think so. Just knowing the rivalry, knowing the history between the Heat and Knicks. It could be one of the most watched games we’ve had in a long time, especially with what Jeremy Lin is doing.”
That rivalry will be reborn tonight at the AAA as the best Knicks team in recent memory comes to take on the Heat.
“We’re playing a great team, and it’s going to be a good evaluation of where we’re at,” said Lin, who had 17 points and nine assists Wednesday. “So from that end obviously we’re excited and ready for the challenge. But besides that, we’re just going try to stay consistent.”
Tipoff for tonight’s game is early at 7:00 p.m. and if you can’t afford to get into the arena tonight, the game can be seen on TNT.