With the Heat entering Friday’s Knicks game nine games ahead of New York in the standings, one Knicks starter said New York has more talent than Miami, and the Knicks coach said Heat players "get away with some things" with their defensive aggressiveness.
Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek, asked what he has observed in Miami’s stretch of 26 wins in 34 games, cited its defense.
"They go at it right from the start of the game," Hornacek said after the team’s Friday morning shootaround at AmericanAirlines Arena. "They’ll get in you. They’re very active with their hands. It’s kind of old-school basketball. You kind of bump and grab and do all that stuff. The referee is not going to call all of them. As long as they [stay] aggressive all game long, they get away with some things and have good stretches, where all of a sudden they get five, six, seven stops in a row and all of a sudden, they take the lead.
"They get after it. If you’re a referee and you see a guy playing hard defense, you kind of let that go. Most teams in the league are trying to get their kids. [Miami] has done a nice job of finding those guys that are very active, very defensive minded. And you’ve got Goran [Dragic] who can really penetrate and get in there and [Hassan] Whiteside rolling to the basket. [Wayne] Ellington comes in there, shooting threes, and the other guys can knock them in too. They’ve got a team with a bunch of guys who play as hard as they can."
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Asked by a New York reporter last month if he wonders how a team with less talent, like Miami, can be ahead of them in the standings, Knicks star Carmelo Anthony said yes and said Knicks players talk about that all the time. Anthony declined to speak to reporters on Friday morning.
Knicks point guard Derrick Rose on Friday was asked if the Heat and Knicks have comparable talent.
"No, we’re more talented," Rose said. "It shows basketball is a team sport. Any year in the league is about whoever catches a rhythm. No matter how your season is going… you can always catch a rhythm, they caught theirs at the right time, winning [13 in a row]. They have been playing great basketball ever since then. So we never caught that luck this year."
The Heat enters Friday’s game seventh in the East at 37-38. The Knicks are 13th in the 15-team conference at 28-47.
• The availability of Anthony (back) and Rose (knee) for Friday’s game will be a game-time decision, Hornacek said.
There’s still no timetable for Heat guard Dion Waiters, who remains in a walking boot but removes it for six to hour eight hours of daily treatment on his sprained ankle or when he exercises.
“The swelling has come down considerably,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Still going through the process of more mobility and movement.”
He’s still not doing any shooting, and it remains undetermined if he will be able to return before the regular season ends.
• Goran Dragic ranks fourth in the league on number of times he has been fouled on three-pointers, with 28, behind James Harden (114), Lou Williams (51) and Kyle Lowry (30).
Spoelstra expects the NBA to review that rule this offseason, with teams possibly being given the ball on the sideline instead of the fouled player being awarded three free throws if the three-pointer was launched after the foul.
“It’s an awkward part of the game,” Spoelstra said. “It’s an impossible play to defend 26 feet away on a pick and roll or a handoff where they can raise.... and you’re trying to be aggressive and now that’s used against you. But we’re benefitting from it too.”
Spoelstra said the staff does not use Dragic’s knack for drawing fouls on threes as a teaching tool.
“That’s the one area in the game where we’re able to capitalize on something that may be reviewed this summer,” Spoelstra said. “But everything else; we don’t teach flops. We don’t teach histrionics to try to trick an official. Maybe we should. With our kind of team, we do have a young team. Not everyone has a reputation. We can be susceptible to some of the flopping that comes against us. We have a hard enough time trying to be efficient, get to our strengths, rather than on top of that, trying to trick the officials.”
Dragic said if the rule is changed, “for me personally, it would not change anything. The last two months, I started doing that. It’s not like this is part of my game for many, many years. It will affect more others than me.”
Spoelstra said with Dragic, “what’s changed in his shooting ability and his confidence in his shooting. The scouting report has changed for him. Teams now are trying not only to keep him out of the paint, but not give him opens threes. He is going to make you pay if you give him a steady diet of open shots all game long.”