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Pre-Game: Knicks at Heat- 12/6/12

The Knicks play the Heat later.

Nick Laham

Hey! The Knicks and the Heat have a basketball game to play later. Since we've already recon'd the Heat, this is just a regular ol' "hey, there's a game tonight" preview-y type post. A few things

- I have no idea what to expect tonight. We still haven't gotten the word on Carmelo Anthony, who will either miss tonight's game or play tonight's game with a stitched, wrapped left middle finger. On top of an injured Melo, the Knicks had to tax themselves a liiiiiittle too much in Charlotte last night. And it's the second of a back-to-back. And the Heat are well rested. And they just lost to the Wizards and lost their hold on first place in the East (to somebody, can't remember who) so maybe they're very pissed. Basically, I'm bracing myself to be okay with a Knicks loss.

- Matt Moore's quick examination of the Knicks' devastating pick-and-roll and how the Heat have to get their shit together to defend it is excellent and well worth a look.

- I exchanged some questions with Kevin Kraczowski from Hot Hot Hoops, and here are the things he told me:

1. What the hell is up with the Heat defense?

Udonis Haslem is not the player he used to be. Joel Anthony doesn’t get many minutes. Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis aren’t exactly what you would term "defensive specialists," and LBJ can’t be everywhere. Now the Heat’s leading thief, Mario Chalmers (1.8 SPG) may be out for God knows how long with a sprained ring finger (non shooting hand, probably not an issue).

Miami’s defensive lapsing appears to be inversely proportionate to Miami’s success on offense. I have to admit, all offense and no defense has made for some exciting games, but I’d rather not develop an ulcer over it thank you very much.

2. In general, do the Heat strike you as genuinely struggling, or just kind of coasting these days?

Miami may suffer from a touch of the old "overconfidence." When they come to play, they’ll match any team’s weapons and ability, and not in a good way. Struggling? It’s hard to say a 12-4 defending champion is "struggling," but Miami still (refer to question one) hasn’t figured out how to defend the lanes or the long ball.

When it comes right down to it, Miami can afford to allow 110 points per game if they score at least 111. Erik Spoelstra knows that sometimes the best defense is to score more than the other guy, and that’s something the Heat can produce three times out of four.

3. How have the new additions changed the complexion of the team, if at all?

The three players we lost combined for 712 minutes all last season, or an average of three and a half minutes per player per game. Additionally, none of the three were a significant part of the rotation for any length of time (Turiaf earned a few minutes late in the year, but was largely ignored in the playoffs).

The three we gained have already played 678 minutes (Allen 436/16 games, Lewis 222/14 games, and Harrellson 10/three games), or 20.6 minutes per player per game. Like the departed Heatsters, none of these three are on the starting lineup. Unlike their predecessors, they have already made timely and significant contributions to the bottom line. Allen has already hit three game winning shots, and as ridiculous as it may seem, is shooting at a career best 50 percent three point rate (if he keeps it up, this will mark the third season in a row that he has set a new career high in the category). Rashard Lewis’ PER is ranking up there with what he was putting up five years ago, and Josh, well, we love Josh.

4. On that note, please tell me you love Josh Harrellson as much as Knicks fans do.

Last season, Jorts ranked 14th on the Knicks in total minutes played, with 540. This season with the Heat, he has played exactly 10 minutes, also ranking 14th on the team. In his very limited time, he has put up a PER of 29.0, 0.8 points better than the reigning MVP LBJ. He’s made 2-of-3 field goals, including 1-for-1 from deep, with five rebounds and a steal. That being said, I’m sure we’d all like to see a little more of him.

5. The "New Orleans Pelicans" thing got me thinking: I really don't like the name "Miami Heat". I'm just not a fan of team names that are mass nouns and aren't decidedly plural. Perhaps you disagree, but given the opportunity to change the Miami mascot, would you? And to what would you change it?

Well, the "Miami Heats" doesn’t really seem to make much sense, does it? I’ll admit to being a little confused when we first heard the name 27 years ago, as at the time there wasn’t much precedent in professional sports with mass nouns. Since then, we’ve been introduced to the NHL’s Minnesota Wild, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Colorado Avalanche, as well as the Orlando Magic. All things considered, yeah, I’m with you. Something local – Hurricanes already taken. Sandy beaches aren’t that threatening. The Oasis – again with the mass nouns. I’ve always been a fan of the Miami Sharks, the perfect complement to the Dolphins. So let's go with the Sharks.

Cool. Tip-off tonight is at 8. I'll add an update somewhere when there's news about Melo and whatever else. Probably won't be until an hour or two before game time at this rate.