Just a few nights after facing off against Kevin Durant and the hot Oklahoma City Thunder, LeBron James and Co. are set to face off against another scoring machine in the form of Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks.
Having already beaten Miami this season, New York will be confident heading into the matchup, especially since they’ve won four out of the last five games against the two-time defending champions.
And if playing the two-time champions wasn’t motivation enough, a win at Madison Square Garden would put the Knickerbockers just a single win behind the eighth-place Charlotte Bobcats and firmly back in the playoff hunt after a horrid start to the season.
The leader of the resurgence? Carmelo Anthony, who has been on a tear recently, averaging 35.6 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists in the last five games, including a 62-point game which set a new career high and is the most a player has scored this season. He’s already had a 29-point, eight-rebound, five-assist performance when New York beat the Heat by 10 points earlier this season.
LeBron James will likely be charged with cuffing last year’s scoring champion and after chasing Kevin Durant all night on Wednesday, he knows he’s in for another long night when guarding Melo.
“They’re going to make shots, said James. “You just have to try and make it tough on them.”
Furthermore, the Miami Heat has seemingly struggled against “small ball” recently, but LeBron feels the last game they played against the Knicks will be a factor.
“Any time you play against a team that you lost to, that factors into your mind,” James said. “Seeing things that you can do better, things that you can do well that you can implement into the next game and just try to figure out a way to get a win.”
Yet despite their struggles on Wednesday night, it could be argued that Miami will be at their deadliest, especially LeBron. The Heat are coming off a huge loss to Oklahoma City and LeBron James got torched by Durant, who put up 33 points against the King. No doubt he’ll be out to make a statement and what better stage than a prime-time game at MSG?