A slew of injuries have prevented Miami’s three superstars from playing together in more than two weeks. With Chris Bosh(notes) out indefinitely, the New York Knicks hope to take advantage as they try to end a long losing streak against the Heat.
Minus Bosh and with Dwyane Wade(notes) fighting migraines, the Heat begin a stretch of four games in five days at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night by looking for their eighth straight win against New York.
Bosh missed his second straight game with a high ankle sprain, and Wade also sat out Saturday’s 120-103 win over Toronto that snapped Miami’s season-high four-game losing streak. Combined with LeBron James(notes) missing two games earlier this month due to an ankle problem, the Heat’s high-scoring trio haven’t played together since Jan. 12.
Without Bosh, the Heat (31-13) plan to go with a smaller lineup against the Knicks, meaning James will play plenty of minutes at power forward - something the NBA’s two-time reigning MVP likes.
“We want guys to play with confidence,” said James, who led the Heat with 38 points against the Raptors. “We don’t want anyone to play outside of what they can do, but we want them to play at a high level and play with confidence. It’s a great opportunity.
“We want C.B. back as quick as possible, but it’s given guys an opportunity to play with confidence.”
“I think when we go to New York, they’ll probably have Mike Miller on the scouting report,” James said.
Wade, averaging 35.1 points in his last eight games against the Knicks, will start the game wearing tinted glasses to help protect his eyes from the bright lights as he recovers from his latest bout with migraines.
“I’ll feel the game out, see how I feel,” Wade said. “At times throughout the game, of course, I’ll take them off, and if I feel like my eyes are adjusting well, my eyes are doing well, I may go without them. But I’m going to start the game (wearing them) for sure.”
The Heat likely will miss the inside presence of Bosh, who scored 26 points in a 113-91 win against New York on Dec. 17.
Miami will sandwich home games against Detroit and Cleveland around a visit to Oklahoma City during its upcoming stretch.
New York’s Amare Stoudemire(notes) is averaging 27.0 points and 10.5 rebounds in two games against Miami, including a 30-point effort in a 106-98 loss Dec. 28. He had 30 points and pulled down nine rebounds as New York (23-21) snapped a six-game losing streak Monday with a 115-106 win against Washington.
“We knew how important this game was,” Stoudemire said. “We all pretty much showed the urgency to get this win.”
Stoudemire ranks second in the NBA this season, averaging 26.1 points - just ahead of James’ 25.9. He’s averaging 27.3 points while helping New York post an 11-9 record at MSG.
The Knicks, among the league leaders with 106.7 points per game, will need another big game from Wilson Chandler(notes) if they hope to beat Miami for the first time since Oct. 29, 2008. Chandler, who averages 17.1 points, has totaled 38 points on 53.6 percent shooting against the Heat in 2010-11.
However, James is averaging 38.6 points on 56.4 percent shooting in his last five trips to MSG, and Wade scored a career-high 55 against the Knicks on March 12, 2009.