The Miami Heat and their All Star Trio of Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade will face Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and the New York Knicks in the first round of the 2012 NBA Playoffs. These two franchises share a contentious playoff history which will resume at 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 28.
Miami and New York met in the postseason four straight times between 1997 and 2000 and all four series went down to the wire. Miami defeated New York 4-3 in the 1997 Eastern Conference semifinals, but the Knicks have won the last three playoff series between the two teams.
New York, who was swept in the first-round of last year's postseason by the Boston Celtics, has not won a playoff series since beating the Heat in the conference semifinals back in 2000. In fact, they haven't won a single postseason game since Game 3 of their 2001 first-round matchup against the Toronto Raptors.
If the Knicks hope to end that drought and win a game or two in this series, they will need Anthony and Stoudemire to explode offensively. Chandler will also need to provide some offensive support while also anchoring New York's much-improved defense.
Miami Heat versus New York Knicks Eastern Conference First-Round Schedule
Game 1: Saturday, April 28, New York Knicks at Miami Heat, 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC
Game 2: Monday, April 30, New York Knicks at Miami Heat, 7:00 p.m. ET on TNT
Game 3: Thursday, May 3, Miami Heat at New York Knicks, 7:00 p.m. ET on TNT
Game 4: Sunday, May 6, Miami Heat at New York Knicks, 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC
Game 5: Wednesday, May 9, New York Knicks at Miami Heat, TBD (if necessary)
Game 6: Friday, May 11, Miami Heat at New York Knicks, TBD (if necessary)
Game 7: Sunday, May 13, New York Knicks at Miami Heat, TBD (if necessary)
The Heat and Knicks met three times during the regular season, and the Heat swept the season series 3-0. Miami won each game by an average of 10.67 points and held New York below 90 points each time.
The Knicks will have to find a way to manufacture some offense if they hope to have any chance at pulling off the upset. Scoring points against a Heat defense that is ranked fifth in opponent field-goal percentage (43.4 percent) and fourth in both points allowed (92.5 per game) and defensive efficiency (97.1 points per 100 possessions) might prove to be a difficult task.
Miami, however, does have a problem with defending the three-point line. The Heat are in the league's bottom five in three-point field-goal percentage allowed (36.3 percent) and give up 7.18 three pointers per game (second worst in the NBA).
If Steve Novak, who leads the league in three-point field-goal percentage at an incredible 47.2 percent, can get hot from behind the arc, New York might be able to manufacture enough points to steal a game or two in this series. But if those long shots turn into long rebounds and easy transition opportunities for the Heat, the Knicks will have a difficult time ending either of their postseason droughts.
Prediction: Heat 4-1
Mark is a lifelong fan of the NBA who has loved the game of basketball ever since his first trip to an NBA arena. Mark has watched more basketball games than anyone can count and has more than 100 articles about the NBA published on the internet. Mark also shares his random NBA musings and game-by-game predictions on RandomNBAFan.com.
Information from NBA.com's 2012 Playoffs Schedule; Basketball-Reference.com's 1996-97 NBA Season Summary, 1997-98 NBA Season Summary, 1998-99 NBA Season Summary, 1999-00 NBA Season Summary 2000-2001 NBA Season Summary; ESPN.com's 2012 NBA Playoffs--First Round--Heat vs. Knicks, 2011-12 Regular Season NBA Team Stats, Hollinger's NBA Team Stats and 2011-12 Regular Season NBA Player Stats was used for this article.