Knicks put winning streak on the line against Heat

The last time the Miami Heat and New York Knicks tangled, the defending champion Heat were in the middle of a huge winning streak.

The Heat's run, historic as it was, ended at 27 consecutive victories. On Tuesday, when the two squads meet in South Beach, it will be the Knicks who put a winning streak on the line.

The Knicks have won eight straight and are inching toward an Atlantic Division title. They are 4 1/2 games ahead of the Brooklyn Nets and trail the Indiana Pacers by one-half game for the second seed in the Eastern Conference.

"Every game we play now is important, in terms of us staying at the top of our division and trying to secure that second spot if we can," head coach Mike Woodson said after the Knicks took the season series with the Boston Celtics on Sunday. "I think the guys know that."

The Knicks routed the Celtics, 108-89. New York was 17 points ahead at the half and cruised over the final 24 minutes. Carmelo Anthony led the way with 24 points and Chris Copeland added 22 in less than 20 minutes.

Kenyon Martin's minutes were limited in the blowout after he suffered a mild abdominal strain. He is expected to be ready for Tuesday's huge matchup.

Also returning Tuesday, possibly, will be All-Star center Tyson Chandler. He stated before the Celtics' game that his neck was feeling better and was optimistic about playing against the Heat.

"We'll welcome him back if he tells me he's ready to go," Woodson said of Chandler.

Who knows who will suit up for the Heat.

Head coach Erik Spoelstra sat LeBron James, Mario Chalmers and Dwyane Wade Sunday against the San Antonio Spurs, but the Heat still came out with a two- point victory.

"Proud of our team," said Chris Bosh, who hit the game-winner.

As for the stars' availability on Tuesday, all three missed shootaround in the morning and will miss the New York game.

For the Knicks' part, it doesn't matter to them who plays.

"I don't care," Woodson said. "We've seen it (Heat lineup) enough."

The Knicks are 2-1 this season against the Heat. Miami has only three losses all season at home and one came against the Knicks on Dec. 6.

"We know they're hot, and they have a very dangerous game with the shooting and Anthony playing with a lot of space," Spoelstra told the Miami Herald. "We felt that all the way they were a legitimate, contending team."

The Heat may have seen their 27-game winning streak disappear, but they have won both games since the loss in Chicago on Wednesday. And, Miami has taken 17 straight at home and have lost only once in American Airlines Arena in 2013.

Against the Spurs, Miami was led by Bosh's 23. The Heat held the Spurs to 44 percent shooting and forced 17 turnovers, which led to 20 points for the Heat.

Despite the Knicks' success against the Heat this season, they have lost six of their last eight in Miami.