The Miami Heat will begin a quick tour through the Tri- State area, starting with today's showdown against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
Miami will also visit New Jersey on the trek and has lost two straight and four of its last five games outside of South Beach. It is 16-13 as the visitor this season and got back into the win column with Friday's 105-82 home victory over the Charlotte Bobcats. LeBron James had 19 points, nine rebounds and five assists to lead the way, helping the Heat end a two-game slide and win for the second time in five tries.
Chris Bosh and Dexter Pittman scored 18 and 16 points, respectively, for Miami, which rebounded from a loss at Chicago and played without star guard Dwyane Wade because of an ankle injury. Wade is probable for Sunday and is averaging 22.5 ppg.
"We could have come in here and really dragged and had a huge hangover from last night, but life goes on and we had a game to get and a chance to get better," said Bosh.
The Heat, who are in the midst of playing five games in seven days, are seeded second in the Eastern Conference -- 3 1/2 games behind the Bulls with eight to play. Miami forward Udonis Haslem (stomach virus) did not play versus Charlotte and could return to the floor Sunday.
Meanwhile, New York has tasted victory under Mike Woodson quite often and will continue a three-game homestand Sunday.
New York got the residency off on the right foot with a 103-65 pounding of the Washington Wizards and received 23 points from J.R. Smith in a reserve role. Carmelo Anthony, Steve Novak and Baron Davis scored 18 apiece, while Tyson Chandler grabbed 15 boards for the Knicks, winners of nine in a row at home under Woodson and 13 of 17 overall.
"To be on the other side of that, when you can't score the basketball, I know that would have to be difficult," Anthony said of Washington's struggles. "But on the flip side of that, when we, our guys, were stopping them, getting up and down the court and playing our game, it's fun to stop guys."
The Wizards shot an abysmal 27.8 percent from the floor compared to a 46.4 percent clip by the home team. New York is 20-10 at MSG this season and will also entertain Boston on the homestand. It is currently tied with Philadelphia for the final two postseason spots in the East, with Milwaukee just 2 1/2 games off the pace. Knicks guard Iman Shumpert left Friday's game with a sprained right ankle is probable today.
New York has lost two matchups with Miami this season -- both on the road -- and is 2-9 in the past 11 meetings between the teams. These two clubs have split the last six meetings at Madison Square Garden, and could meet up in the postseason when the dust has settled.