Five stitches and a heavy bandage to the middle finger of his non-shooting hand may be just enough to keep New York Knick Carmelo Anthony out of Thursday's pivotal matchup with the Miami Heat at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Anthony will reportedly test the injury prior to Thursday’s matchup, but he won’t force himself onto the court at the cost of New York’s play.
The Knicks star forward sustained the injury diving into his squad’s bench in the closing minutes of their thrilling 100-98 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats Wednesday night. With Anthony sidelined, guard J.R. Smith drilled a baseline jumper as the clock expired to lift New York to 13-4, the most wins in the Eastern Conference.
Smith would finish with 13 points, four assists, and two blocks, while Anthony would score a team-high 23 points. Center Tyson Chandler anchored New York down low with 18 points and 17 rebounds.
Despite shooting 6-for-16 on the night, it was the first game-winner in Smith’s eight-year career, and made up for the huge discrepancy on the boards and at the 3-point line. Charlotte outrebounded New York 50-36, and the Knicks connected on just 13 of their 41 3-point attempts. The Bobcats were 7-for-16 from beyond the arc.
New York may be on a high after their buzzer beater win, but will come down against a Heat squad infuriated with their 105-101 loss to the NBA’s worst team, Washington Wizards.
LeBron James recorded a triple double with a game-high 26 points, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists, while Dwyane Wade netted 24 points, and Chris Bosh tallied 20 points and 12 rebounds.
Miami’s starters clearly did their job, but the Heat could not contain the Wizards second unit, led by Jordan Crawford’s 22 points and six assists off the bench.
The loss could be called an anomaly, but Miami nearly fell to the San Antonio Spurs bench last week when Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili were sent home. Speculation now has Miami suffering from a post-championship hangover, especially with their defense ranked 21st in the league, allowing 99.9 points.
A win for New York would give them two victories over the defending champions and huge advantage in the conference standings. Behind 30 points from Anthony, the Knicks blewout Miami 104-84 in their home opener on Nov. 2, inspiring a city leveled by Hurricane Sandy.
Betting Odds: Miami is favored by 8 points.
Over/Under: 200 points
Prediction: Even if Melo plays, New York will have a difficult time against James and Miami. The Heat should respond to critics with a huge win, preserving their perfect home record.
Predicted Score: Miami 102, New York 93