Dwyane Wade is well aware of what happens when the New York Knicks visit AmericanAirlines Arena.
“I know the whole dynamics of Miami — a lot of New Yorkers live here,” the 13-year Heat veteran said Monday after the team’s shootaround. “I know there is a buzz whenever we play each other, especially when both teams are good. So it’s good for basketball.”
The Knicks, more on the bad side of late including an Eastern Conference-worst 17-65 last season, rolled into town Monday with a winning record and a different outlook. So with 7-3 rookie Kristaps Porzingus proving doubters wrong and Carmelo Anthony playing well again does it mean the Heat-Knicks rivalry could be renewed soon?
It’s not that simple, Heat captains Wade and Chris Bosh said.
“I think the only way you get that [a rivalry] is through playoff battles,” Bosh said of rivalries. “That’s the only way, and we didn’t make the playoffs last year. There’s always underlying tones of what the rival of the Miami Heat is. The Pacers have always been there. The Knicks have always been there. But you’ve got to have a nice, long, seven-game series in the postseason to kind of really bring those feelings and emotions out.”
The last time New York and Miami met in the playoffs was in 2012. The Heat took 4 of 5 from the Knicks in the first round on its way to back-to-back NBA titles. Before that, it had been 12 years since the Heat and Knicks met in the playoffs. New York won the last three of four consecutive heated playoff meetings from 1997 to 2000.
So although Heat and Knicks fans might always feel there is a rivalry between them, Wade said, the current players don’t.
“I don’t know if a lot of guys really understand what a rivalry means,” Wade said. “A rivalry is not just because you play a lot of close games with somebody. It’s somebody who beats you, you beat them, and they beat you in the playoffs. We don’t have a rivalry. The Pacers are a good team. They fight us tooth and nail no matter what, no matter who is on the court for them it’s always a tough game.
“But I can’t say it’s a rivalry. I’ll say it’s one of our toughest opponents. When I do think of rivalries, I do think of Miami-Knicks back in the day. The Pacers never got our number. We actually won all those series. I know it was good for TV, but we won all those. But they’re still one of our toughest opponents in the Eastern Conference.”
▪ Wade said he received congratulatory text messages from players around the NBA, including LeBron James, Chris Paul and Anthony after he eclipsed 19,000 career points in Saturday’s win over the 76ers.
“It’s a cool thing when your peers acknowledge it,” Wade said. “I’ve been through a lot in this game, been through a lot of adversity. People have been saying I should give it up for five years. This is crazy to me. I still just keep plugging away. So, it’s special. I’ve just got to keep plugging and get to the next [milestone]. The next one [20,000 points] is even more special from that standpoint.”
▪ Heat first-round pick Justise Winslow and Porzingis entered Monday’s game ranked first and second, respectively, among NBA rookies in plus-minus, the stat that tracks how much a team is collectively ahead or behind when that player is on the court. Winslow was at plus-70, and Porzingis at plus-67.