The Heat and the New York Knicks, who will meet in Miami on Friday night, used to have a fierce rivalry that at times boiled over into tough talk and at least one famous fight.
At the moment, the only type of altercation involving these teams that’s making the news is with each other and not the opposing team.
The Heat (47-26), who have the best record in the Eastern Conference, have lost two straight games, and their emotions erupted during Wednesday’s 118-104 home loss to the Golden State Warriors.
During a 19-0 Warriors run that started the third quarter, the Heat called a timeout. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra angrily threw his clipboard to the court, and teammates Jimmy Butler and Udonis Haslem started yelling at each other.
Heat center Bam Adebayo, though, insisted it was no big deal.
“This is us in practice — it just so happens that it boiled over in a game,” he said. “We’re so passionate, and we want to win that bad. It may look like we want to fight each other. But we’re brothers. We’re going to get through this.”
The presence of the Knicks might help in that quest. Miami has defeated New York five straight times, including twice this season. The last Knicks’ win over the Heat was on Jan. 12, 2020.
It also would help the Heat if they get a couple of dynamic guards back from the injured list: Tyler Herro (knee) and Gabe Vincent (toe). Herro is second on the Heat in scoring (20.9), and Vincent is eighth (8.9).
The Heat still have Butler, the team’s on-court leader. He tops the team in scoring (21.2) and steals (1.7). Adebayo leads Miami in rebounds (10.2) and averages 19.2 points. And Kyle Lowry, who leads the team in assists (7.7), led Miami in scoring on Wednesday with 26 points.
The Knicks (31-42), who forged a breakthrough last season by making the playoffs after a seven-year drought, have returned to the bottom half of the standings.
New York, though, is coming off a high note in Wednesday’s 121-106 win over the host Charlotte Hornets.
RJ Barrett, who scored 30 points to help knock off the Hornets, is second on the Knicks in scoring (19.9).
The Knicks beat Charlotte without Julius Randle, who was out due to a quad injury. He leads the team in scoring (20.3), rebounding (10.0) and assists (5.1).
Knicks starting center Mitchell Robinson also sat out the Hornets game. Robinson, who has a back injury, leads the team in blocks (1.8), and he averages 8.4 points and 8.6 rebounds.
Those are considered short-term injuries. The Knicks have been without three players for a longer term: Cam Reddish (shoulder), Nerlens Noel (foot) and Derrick Rose (ankle). Reddish is out for the season, and there’s no timetable on Noel and Rose.
Without Randle and Robinson on Wednesday, the Knicks started second-year player Obi Toppin and rookie Jericho Sims.
Toppin had 18 points, a game-high 11 rebounds and six assists against the Hornets. Sims had 10 points on 5-of-5 shooting.
Barrett, the Knicks’ young leader at age 21, has faith in his teammates.
“We have a number of guys who can get in the paint,” Barrett said. “We have a number of guys who can shoot it as well.”
–Field Level Media