In an unusual NBA season filled with oddities of schedules, play, and the unusual disappearances of teams, it should come as no surprise that one of the most hyped regular season games in years is on the day before the All-Star break. Tonight’s matchup between the Miami Heat and the New York Knicks is just one game on a frantic, reduced schedule, but in the eyes of the hype machine, it's the clash of Linsanity versus the rolling Heat-Wave.
Miami comes into this game looking like the team everyone thought they would be last season. In winning 7 straight by double digits, the Heat aren't simply cruising, they are demolishing everything in their path behind a resurgent Dwyane Wade and a motivated LeBron James, who is looking like he really wants to add another league MVP to his growing stack. The hype for this game between the Knicks and Heat is so huge that Some court-level seats are pushing $10,000 on the secondary market.
“Everyone knows the history between the Knicks and Heat, then you bring in the Jeremy Lin Linsation, you bring in the Miami Heat, Carmelo Anthony and those guys and Amare Stoudemire, Spike Lee, Pat Riley and all that and it’s a huge game,” LeBron James said.
New York enters this game a resurgent team. Once on the wrong side of the playoff bubble with little hope for improvement, the influx of solid point guard play from Jeremy Lin has sparked this team and all it's components. Winners of 9 out of their last 11 games, the Knicks are starting to find their own groove on the court, though they are still a work in progress.
With stars like Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Amare Stoudemire, the addition of Lin to the starting lineup seemed to be the missing ingredient to allow all of them to play the way they are most comfortable with. This fact isn't lost on the Heat, or the rest of the NBA, and has elevated the team in the eyes of many.
“He’s a good player; he does good things for their team,” James said of Lin. “They were looking for a point guard and they found one.”
This may just be one regular season game on paper, but the reality is so much more. It's a clash of the biggest stories in the NBA the past two season and may be a preview of the most heavily anticipated playoff matchup we've had in years.
Simply put, this is made for TV greatness.
"It's going to be a lot of, a lot of anticipation about this game," Carmelo Anthony said after last nites win over Atlanta. "We're going down there to win. Miami is playing great basketball right now. One of the hottest teams, if not the hottest team in the NBA.
"It'll be a great game."
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