DREAM WEEK VS. REALITY CHECK WEEK: This is Part III of the four-game stretch whose proper nickname shall be known by the time the Knicks get finished with their back-to-back against Miami tonight and Cleveland on the road tomorrow night. Thus far, the 'Bockers are 1-1 -- having defeated Carmelo Anthony and the Denver Nuggets last Sunday before having their eight-game winning streak snapped Wednesday night by Paul Pierce and the Boston Celtics, whose victory streak is now up to 12. The Heat bring a 10-game winning streak into tonight's tilt, having won the first nine of those games by double-digit margins.
KEY MATCHUP: It'll be the one down low between Amar'e Stoudemire and Chris Bosh/Joel Anthony/Erick Dampier, with the Heat trying to end Stoudemire's team-record streak of 30-point games at nine. Stoudemire leads the NBA in scoring over the past 10 games, averaging 32 points, and he is No. 1 in the NBA in fourth-quarter scoring, a full point ahead of Dirk Nowitzki. He went off for 17 first-quarter points against the Celtics on Wednesday, his most productive opening period of the season.
ALL HAIL THE KING -- NOT: LeBron James has been showered with adulation by Knicks fans over the past two seasons, but the reception will be decidedly different this time around after James spurned New York to sign with the Miami Heat. James told reporters in Miami in Wednesday night that he planned to go out Thursday night and would walk the streets with no fear, predicting that those who dared to heckle him would wait until he walked past before yelling what they wanted to yell. "I'm not worried," James said. "I'm a big guy, man." James said he didn't expect the Haterade to be poured on as thick as it was when he made his return to Cleveland, so those Knicks fans holding tickets may want to take that as a challenge. Today's headline greetings for James in the tabloids: The New York Daily News had "LeBUM'S THE WORD" on the front page and "BEACH BUM" on the back page, while the New York Post went with "LeCHICKEN" on its back page.
THIS 'N THAT: The Heat have defeated the Knicks in their past five meetings. New York's last victory over Miami came way back on Oct. 29, 2008 in Mike D'Antoni's debut as Knicks coach. ... The Knicks are 9-2 when Stoudemire scores 30 or more points. ... The Knicks haven't been above .500 this late in a season since January of 2005. ... Raymond Felton has produced double-doubles in points and assists eight times in the last 11 games. He ranks third among NBA guards in doubles-doubles with 12, trailing only Russell Westbrook (14) and Deron Williams (13). Landry Fields leads all NBA guards -- not just rookies, but all guards -- in rebounding with 7.5 per game. Dwyane Wade is second with 6.5. Spike Lee wore a Fields jersey to the Knicks-Celtics game on Wednesday night.