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Game Preview: Knicks at Heat, 12/20/2019

Coming off their biggest win of the century, the Knicks (7-21) travel to Florida face the Heat (20-8). Hopefully they still feel like there is work to be done and don’t intend to just settle for an early retirement in Miami. The Heat may be overwhelming for this fairly green Knicks group. Sure, there are lots of new faces and young players, but they have a top-down agenda with a coach that requires and inspires excellence.

It certainly helps when your star player expects just the same from himself and his teammates. Jimmy Butler will face the Knicks for the first time as a member of the Heat, and he might be matched up with the Philly brutalist Marcus Morris, who is certainly having a career year. More on that later. For now, you might want to get acquainted with this maniac.

Scary. You should take solace that this was against the Hawks. The Knicks basically just decapitated the Hawks.

Projected Starters

This is a hellified scrapper squad, the Heat have. The scary part is they’re missing one of their big cats, Justise Winslow. He’ll be out with a lower back strain for this, the eighth straight game. James Johnson has been away for personal leave, but is back, and something tells me he will happily start some shit. Also returning for the Heat is Goran Dragic to help shore up the back court minutes. These guys are like a pack of fisher cats. Here they come now, running up the tunnel to the court.

For New York, we’re looking at another day without Reggie Bullock and Wayne Ellington. Allonzo Trier and his concussion have been upgraded to questionable. Frank Ntilikina was a little under the weather (sniffles, perhaps) but is probable, and Julius Randle has a gimpy leg but should be ready to rumble.

There is a nice bit of good news on the Bullock front as he has finally been cleared to go through full practices and he likes the energy and new coaching staff.

Keep building and pushing, Reggie, we’re out here pulling for you and I’m sure someone around these parts is an architect. Maybe Mike Miller is an actual architect. This game will be one of his toughest tests yet.

Keys & Predictions

Who’s gonna have some slick shit to say? This guy:

The Knicks actually seem to match up pretty well with the Heat. It’s not perfect or anything, calm down. I’m just saying it’s not as simple and bad as their records would suggest. The one sore spot might be Jimmy Butler’s defense on Marcus Morris.

Money Mook has been fantastic in pick-and-roll and catch-and-shoot threes but the Butt Lord just has a way of getting into guys and making them uncomfortable. He’ll rush you to a funky spot and then turn into a swarm of bees, stinging the hand of an errant dribbler or protecting the hive when he spots a lazy pass. This is exactly the type of game where you worry if Morris’ magic won’t work. If it happens, let’s pray it only has a one game effect.

The possibility of his powers being sapped would be devastating to the Knicks’ hopes. If Mook doesn’t have it going, will Julius Randle be able to bum rush the über athletic Bam Adebayo? Will these Kentucky Wildcats battle for cat supremacy?! Will RJ Barrett lose track of Duncan Robinson? Will Tyler Herro (another cat) blast Dennis Smith Jr.’s obsolete vernacular into the atmosphere? All that and more tonight.

Knicks by -20.

Warm Up Music

Hardcore Miami vibes and some teammates not reading the same page.