Miami (49-16) at New York (26-35)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Las Vegas, NV
Temp: 66° F
  • Game info: 7:30 pm EST Tue Mar 15, 2005
  • TV: NBATV, MSG
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Miami Heat look to become the first NBA team to lock up a playoff berth as they visit the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

A win over New York will clinch a playoff spot for Miami and give them the inside track on the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs with 17 games remaining.

The Heat have won a league-best nine straight to move them into a virtual tie with Phoenix and San Antonio for the league’s best record. The Suns and Spurs are both 48-15.

“Everyone’s clicking at the right time,” Miami leading scorer Dwyane Wade said. “Our teamwork is great, and it’s coming together at the right time— right before the playoffs.”

Wade scored 29 points on 10-of-12 shooting in just 26 minutes, Shaquille O’Neal added 21 points and Miami beat the Milwaukee Bucks 110-71 on Monday.

The Heat aren’t just beating teams these days—they’re routing them. Miami has held leads of at least 17 points in each of its last eight games, and has won its last nine by an average of 17.6 points.

The Heat have opened up an 8 1/2 -game lead ahead of Detroit in the Eastern Conference.

“I’ve never experienced anything like this before,” Miami veteran Eddie Jones said. “I just think it’s great. If we can continue to do that, that’s great. All we’re going to do is continue to get better if we do that.”

New York has won five of seven to move within 4 1/2 games of Philadelphia for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.

The Knicks have played well at home to get them back within striking distance of a playoff spot. They’ve won eight of their last 10 games at Madison Square Garden with their two losses coming against the Heat and Seattle SuperSonics.

“Any time we lose at home, I think it’s a missed opportunity,” Knicks coach Herb Williams said. “We’re trying to get into the playoffs, and to get in to the playoffs you have to win at home. A win is a win, and we need as many as we can get.”

New York shot just 4-for-21 (19 percent) in the fourth quarter of a 90-80 loss to the visiting SuperSonics on Sunday.

Stephon Marbury and Tim Thomas had 20 points each as New York had it’s seven-game home winning streak snapped. The Knicks, who fell to 9-20 against teams with winning records, hadn’t lost at home since dropping a 116-110 overtime decision to Miami on Feb. 9.

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