Miami V New York. The Battle of The Eastern Conference Leaders.[caption id="attachment_12252" align="aligncenter" width="620"] Photo Credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images[/caption] This game of the week will be a great contest between two powerhouses of the Eastern Conference. This match up is between Miami and New York, let's take a look.
GAME TIME & VIEWING OPTIONS:Time & Date: Friday, December 7, 2012 12:00pm AEDT Location: American Airlines Arena, Miami. Viewing Info: NBA League Pass (see our TV Guide for full info)
FORM HEADING IN:In their past meeting this year New York defeated Miami in a blowout 104-84. That match was just after Hurricane Sandy, which left parts of New York battered. Miami: 12-3 Miami have started this season where they left off the last. They have somewhat been flying under the radar, as much as you can with LeBron James and Dwayne Wade on your team. They have been just going about their business, winning most games. They had 2 close calls in a row against Milwaukee and Cleveland but in the end found a way to win both. Miami are currently on a 6 game winning streak and with Washington to come before this match, it looks like they will make it 7. New York: 12-4 New York have been one the surprise teams in the NBA. They won their first 6 and looked like a championship calibre team. New York have are yet to lose a game at home this season. Their most disappointing game came against Houston and their old buddy Jeremy Lin. They were blown out in a high scoring match 103-131. They had a very close match against Brooklyn in the ‘Battle of the Borough’, eventually going down in overtime 89-96. Since the Brooklyn match they have bounced back well with 3 consecutive wins against Milwaukee, Washington and Phoenix.
MATCH UP OF THE NIGHT:The match up of the night is a pretty obvious one. I can’t go past the match up at small forward between two superstars of the competition in LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. Although LeBron James is averaging his lowest points per game since his rookie season, his all round game has been phenomenal. His rebounds per game are at a career high 8.9 and he is only averaging 2.5 turnovers per game, the least of his career. Carmelo Anthony has lifted to a new level this season. He is averaging 26 points per game. This isn’t the highest of his career, but it shows that he is willing to share the ball on the offensive end. Anthony’s teamwork and willingness to share is a huge reason as to why New York has been so good thus far. The former number 1 and number 3 picks in the 2003 draft have had a rivalry since high school. During their NBA careers, they have played against each other 16 times and Anthony leads 10-6 in wins. It will be fascinating to see who can lead their team the best and score the most points for their respective team. Whoever can get into their groove the earliest it will be hard for the other team to contain their scoring prowess.
X FACTOR:Last season it would’ve seemed very unlikely that Raymond Felton would be called a possible X-factor. Since making the off season move from Portland to New York he has slimmed down losing over 10kg. Felton has been a great player for New York and sets the pace of the game well for his team mates. He is also averaging the second most points on the team. If he can expose Mario Chalmers who is an average point guard it will certainly help New York's cause.
BENCH BATTLE:Both New York and Miami have prominent bench players that play vital roles for their teams. J.R Smith has been huge for New York this season. He has improved since last season, turning himself into a team player but still a great scorer when needed. Smith is a great leader for the Knicks bench, and appears to much happier in his role this season than last. Smith is averaging 14 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists. Ray Allen will go down in NBA history as possibly the best shooter to ever play the game. He has been a welcome addition for Miami since controversially crossing from Boston in the off season. Allen has hit a game winning 3 against Denver and another crucial 3 against Cleveland. He may have dodgy ankles, but he certainly hasn't been showing the effects of that too much this season. Allen is averaging 13 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal. Rasheed Wallace is a 17 year veteran of the NBA. He came out of retirement to play for the Knicks this season. In their win over Phoenix, Wallace was ejected from the game within 85 seconds of being subbed in. The Knicks want him to assert himself on court, but not so much as to get himself ejected. He is huge presence for New York in the limited minutes he does play. Wallace has been averaging 7 points, 4 rebounds and almost 1 block in 15 minutes on the court. Rashard Lewis is a veteran scorer of the NBA. His numbers have undoubtedly dropped off over the years but he is still a valuable off season pick up for the Heat. Lewis hasn't been able to find much game time so far, but as the season goes on I will be expecting him to get more playing time. Lewis is averaging 6 points, 2 rebounds and less than 1 turnover per game in less than 16 minutes of game time.
PREDICTED STARTING LINE UPS:Miami Heat:
- Point guard: Mario Chalmers
- Shooting guard: Dwayne Wade
- Small forward: LeBron James
- Power forward: Shane Battier
- Centre: Chris Bosh
- Point guard: Raymond Felton
- Shooting guard: Ronnie Brewer
- Small forward: Carmelo Anthony
- Power forward: Kurt Thomas
- Centre: Tyson Chandler