The New York Knicks and Miami Heat boast the best records in the East through the early part of the season, with the winner of Thursday night's game leaving American Airlines Arena with the top spot.
The top two teams in the Eastern Conference square off Thursday night, as the New York Knicks head to Miami to face the Heat in a rematch of last year's first-round playoff series and this year's season-opening win for the Knicks.
Miami waltzed over the Knicks in five games, including several blowout wins, last year. But to start off the 2012-13 season New York came out strong and won by 20 in their first game of the year, beating the Heat behind 19-of-36 shooting from beyond the arc while forcing 21 turnovers. It's one of only four losses for the year for Miami, who sit a half-game behind New York for the best record in the conference after New York's Wednesday night buzzer-beater by J.R. Smith to move to 13-4. They've won four straight to move past the Heat.
Neither team is at full strength: Miami is without starting point guard Mario Chalmers and the Knicks might not have Carmelo Anthony, who suffered a cut in on his non-shooting hand Wednesday night. He will determine his ability to play before the game.
The Heat are coming off a somewhat embarrassing loss to the Washington Wizards, but it's hard to say they were slacking off. LeBron James had a triple-double and Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were also over 20 points, but the Wizards held on for their second win of the year, a 105-101 victory. Before that, Miami had been playing great basketball, winning six straight, although they did have a close call rallying back from seven down with under two minutes left against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Big Three is as strong as ever, with Bosh the low scorer at 19.3 points per game, and Ray Allen has been as good as advertised, still connecting at a 50 percent rate from downtown despite taking over four threes a game.
There should be lots of scoring as the teams are second and third in offensive efficiency on the year. It's a change from last year, where both squads were top 5 defensively.
The game is at 8 p.m. ET, nationally broadcast on TNT.