Five burning questions on Knicks-Heat

After doling out loads of cash the past two years to assemble their own trio of stars, do the Knicks have what it takes to hang with the Heat on Friday (8 p.m. ET, ESPN)?

From the impact of Baron Davis to Chris Bosh's role to the Knicks' need to make a trade for Dwight Howard, our panel tackles all the big questions in New York and Miami.

1. Fact or Fiction: Baron Davis is the answer at PG in New York.

lastname Davis

Tom Haberstroh, Heat Index: Fiction. He's an answer, but not the answer. You know when Ron Burgundy is deep in a rut, desperate for a refreshing beverage on a scorching hot San Diego day, and regrettably decides to chug milk from the carton? It's a drink, but not the drink. That's how I feel about the Knicks and Baron Davis.

Zach Harper, Daily Dime Live: Fact. Doesn't mean it's going to work at all. Baron has bad body parts and a history of being out of shape and unmotivated, and we have no idea how sharp his skills are or even can be with this layoff. But look at his competition for the job. Toney Douglas and Mike Bibby should not be walking through that door.

Michael Wallace, Heat Index: Fact. If only because, for now, he's their only remaining option. The reality is that the situation at point guard can't get any worse. The better question is whether the Knicks were better off where they were with Chauncey Billups than they are with Tyson Chandler?

Brian Windhorst, Heat Index: For now, fact. Derek Harper is not walking through that door. The point guard market is tight, and the Knicks' trade assets are slim. There's virtually no chance they'd be able to get their hands on a talented guard now unless they break up their core. Davis really made a positive impact on the Cavs when he was traded there last season, and if he's healthy, he should be able to do the same in New York. Just don't expect 2007 Baron.

Jared Zwerling, ESPN New York: Fiction. For starters, Davis' 3-point shooting and pick-and-roll skills will benefit the Knicks' offense, especially Amare Stoudemire. With that said, while doctors I've spoken to don't foresee Davis experiencing further complications with his back, they feel he might not be able to regain his conditioning at his age (32). Amidst a shortened season, that's a cause for concern, especially with all the young and talented point guards Davis will have to defend.

2. Fact or Fiction: The Heat will go 2-0 this weekend (vs. Knicks, Bulls).

Tom Haberstroh, Heat Index: Fiction. I say they split. If Dwyane Wade returns, he'll have to find his groove against two top-10 defenses. This seems like the easy way out, but I've seen enough crazy this season to hedge my bets. Did we learn nothing when the Thunder lost to the Wizards?

Zach Harper, Daily Dime Live: Fiction. The Knicks have been better before, and the Heat have matched up really well with the Bulls here and there. Sweeping these two games is still a difficult task and not one that should just be presumed before either has even started. Going 1-1 seems very likely, but I'll let you speculate on which team is in which column. (Hint: It's probably not the one Knicks fans are hoping for.)

Michael Wallace, Heat Index: Fact. These are clearly attention-grabbing, national TV games. And the truth is Miami gets up for these type of contests, especially at home. The Heat beat the Mavs, Lakers, Spurs and Sixers by double figures. It's the Charlottes, Milwaukees and Detroits you have to worry about with this Heat team right now.

Brian Windhorst, Heat Index: Fact. The Heat are on the verge of getting to full strength with Wade likely back, and they have played generally well over the past two weeks. The Bulls are dealing with an array of injuries. Both games are also in Miami.

Jared Zwerling, ESPN New York: Fact. The Knicks are struggling too much right now offensively to upset a top team. On the flip side, LeBron James and Chris Bosh are sizzling, whereas Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony are not. In the second matchup, the Bulls are just getting their rhythm back with Derrick Rose, who missed four games with turf toe. And the Heat? They're in rhythm, having won five of their past six games.

3. Fact or Fiction: N.Y. should be willing to trade two of its stars for D12.

lastname Howard

lastname Stoudemire

lastname Chandler

lastname Anthony

Tom Haberstroh, Heat Index: Fact. But don't expect Amare Stoudemire to be one of those two. Looking washed up and no insurance on his knees? Good luck finding a taker for that ticking time bomb.

Zach Harper, Daily Dime Live: Fact. Dwight Howard is better than any player they have. Considering their three best guys seem to fit somewhat awkwardly together under the current system and with the current supporting cast, I don't get why any combination would be too high a price for Dwight. We've seen mixed results at best over the past year for the Knicks. When's the last time Dwight's results looked this bad?

Michael Wallace, Heat Index: Fact. Yes, they should. The question is whether Orlando will get desperate enough to help out the large-market Knicks. If Dwight is on the table, every team has to contemplate what it might take to land him. The Knicks happen to be one of the few teams with reasonable assets to have a shot.

Brian Windhorst, Heat Index: Fact. What they have right now isn't working all that well and Howard is the most unique talent int the league. Despite his baggage, every team in the league would want him. The cost is so high because the demand is so high. He'd be the centerpiece on Broadway for the next decade. Though trades haven't worked out so well for the Knicks over the past few years.

Jared Zwerling, ESPN New York: Fiction. Teams need a proven big man, like a Dwight Howard, to win a championship. But the Knicks have an All-Star-caliber center in Tyson Chandler. They would benefit more from trading Carmelo Anthony for Deron Williams straight up. The Nets are desperate for a star when they move to Brooklyn, and Melo is from there. D-Will is the players the Knicks need, and he would help Amare Stoudemire regain his MVP form from early last season.

4. Fact or Fiction: Bosh has erased doubts about his role in the Big Three.

lastname Bosh

Tom Haberstroh, Heat Index: Fiction. I never doubted it, but I know plenty of other people who feel that anything short of a ring won't validate his Big Three status.

Zach Harper, Daily Dime Live: Fact. If you watch basketball and you enjoy the actual game itself, there shouldn't be any doubts that Chris Bosh fills his needed role on this team. He did it last season and he's even better at it this season. It's fine if you don't want to accept Bosh as someone as masculine as yourself, but don't ignore what he's doing on the court.

Michael Wallace, Heat Index: Fiction. Bosh has been impressive in his cameo appearances as the No. 2 option behind LeBron. But let's see what he does when Dwyane Wade is back from the ankle injury. I still have reservations about Bosh's effectiveness and commitment to rebounding on a consistent basis.

Brian Windhorst, Heat Index: Fiction. Until they raise a banner there will always be doubts about those three, their roles and their ability to play together.

Jared Zwerling, ESPN New York: Fact. Let's see ... 26.7 points per game and his team goes 5-1, even without one of their stars. Bosh, who improved his lower-body strength this offseason, is now getting to the basket easier and making more shots at the rim (3.7 per game vs. 2.4 last season).

5. Fact or Fiction: The Knicks have a Big Three.

Tom Haberstroh, Heat Index: Fiction. I'll say this: Amare Stoudemire currently has a worse PER than Anthony Randolph.

Zach Harper, Daily Dime Live: Fact. The Knicks definitely have a Big Three. It just doesn't seem to be nearly as good or effective as most of the major Big Threes forming around the league. Lots of kinks to iron out right now, as they learn how to play together.

Michael Wallace, Heat Index: Fiction. In fact, let's cease all "Big Three" nicknames until a team wins a championship. Until then, let's just refer to them all as a team's "Key Three." Heat included. So under that legislation, the Knicks have a "Key Three" with Amare, Carmelo and Tyson.

Brian Windhorst, Heat Index: Fiction. There are a lot of ways to classify it but here's one: to have a "big three" it seems like they all should have been All-Stars. Or at least recognized as one of the top players at their position in the league. Tyson Chandler is an excellent defensive center, but he is not an All-Star.

Jared Zwerling, ESPN New York: Fact. While the Knicks aren't in sync, nearly every team in the league would take a Anthony-Stoudemire-Chandler frontline. They're already anchoring a solid defense. In 2010-11, the Knicks ranked 22nd in defensive rating; this season, they're eighth. This week, Baron Davis said, "If our offense catches up to our defense, we'll be unstoppable." He could be right. The season is still early and scoring is down across the board.

ESPN.com and the TrueHoop Network
Tom Haberstroh, Michael Wallace and Brian Windhorst cover the Heat for ESPN.com's Heat Index. Jared Zwerling writes for ESPN New York. Zach Harper hosts Daily Dime Live.

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