Knicks look to douse Heat, halt playoff slide

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The Miami Heat and New York Knicks meet in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. The Heat are looking to make the NBA Finals for the second straight year, while the Knicks hope to snap a 10-game playoff losing streak.The NBA Playoffs get underway this weekend with four games each day. The marquee matchup in the Eastern Conference, featuring the Miami Heat and New York Knicks, starts on Saturday (ABC, 3:30 ET).

The Heat are in the postseason for the fourth consecutive year and have made the playoffs in eight of the last nine seasons. The Knicks are making back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time since appearing 14 straight times from 1988 to 2001.

Miami is the No. 2 seed for the second straight year and the sixth time in franchise history. The last two times that they were second in the East, the Heat made it to the NBA Finals.

The Knicks were swept in the first round in each of their last two playoff appearances. Their 10-game playoff losing streak is the longest active streak in the NBA and the longest in franchise history. New York’s last playoff win was on April 29, 2001, against the Toronto Raptors.

Miami Heat This Season

Despite having a great season and finishing with the fourth-best record in the NBA, the Heat weren’t the same team after the All-Star break. Miami was dominant in the first half of the season, but scored 11 fewer points per game the rest of the way.

After Mike D’Antoni resigned on March 14, the Knicks rallied to finish 18-6 under Mike Woodson. According to Elias, only two teams made a coaching change after the All-Star break and then won a playoff series.

Both previous instances involved Don Nelson getting the boot. The 1995-96 Knicks and 2004-05 Dallas Mavericks each went on to win a playoff series after parting ways with Nelson.

Fast-break Points

• Since the playoffs expanded to 16 teams in 1984, No. 4 and No. 5 seeds are dead even in the first round. Each has won 132 of 264 games and 28 of 56 series.

• Fourteen of the 16 teams that made the NBA playoffs last year are back this year. This year, the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz replace the New Orleans Hornets and Portland Trail Blazers. According to Elias, this ties the NBA record for most returning teams, set in 1986 and matched in 2001 and 2003.

• The Memphis Grizzlies are in the playoffs for the second straight season. Last season, Memphis became the fourth No. 8 seed to knock off a No. 1 seed. Not only was that the Grizzlies first playoff series win, but the first playoff games won by the franchise.

Most Consecutive Playoff Appearances
Longest Active Streaks

• The San Antonio Spurs are in the playoffs for the 15th consecutive season, the longest active streak in the NBA. The Spurs are the top seed in the West for the second straight season, but lost in the first round last year.

• The defending champion Mavericks are in the playoffs for the 12th straight season, the second-longest active streak in the NBA.

• The Philadelphia 76ers have lost five consecutive postseason series, tied with the Milwaukee Bucks for the second-longest active streak in the NBA (Portland has lost seven straight series).

• The Orlando Magic will be without leading scorer Dwight Howard after he underwent back surgery. The last five teams that were missing their leading scorer in the playoffs were eliminated in the first round.

Ernest Tolden contributed to this post