Twitter and Facebook will be set ablaze Thursday night when Linsanity and the New York Knicks take their talents to South Beach, ending the first half of the NBA season with a nuclear-sized bang against the Miami Heat.
“I’m not looking forward to the game like I woke up on Sunday and said I can’t wait for Thursday,” Heat star Dwyane Wade said. “It’s going to be great intensity, but it’s not the Finals or anything.”
The Heat (26-7) have won seven consecutive games by at least 12 points – two shy of the NBA record – and are off to the best start in franchise history. During the run, Wade is shooting 59 percent (63-of-107) from the field and averaging 23.4 points while playing just 28 minutes.
Running mate LeBron James won Player of the Week for the fourth time, averaging 27.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists while shooting 62 percent. He is the frontrunner in the MVP race.
But even their sizzling play is playing second fiddle to Jeremy Lin’s media storm that nobody – well, maybe Nike – saw coming.
The Knicks (17-17) are 9-2 since Lin began receiving major minutes less than three weeks ago. The former third-string point guard has averaged 23.9 points and 9.2 assists in the absence of All-Star Carmelo Anthony (groin injury – seven games) and feloow star Amar’e Stoudemire (family loss – four games).
“I can’t imagine what he’s going through,” recently signed J.R. Smith said. “It’s extremely tough for me, and I’m in my eighth year, playing in this spotlight.”
Sports Illustrated featured Lin on its cover two weeks in a row. Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, considered the king of New York sports, never did that. James, who made SI‘s cover as a junior in high school, never has, either.
The longtime rivals have met once this season, with Miami surviving 18 3-pointers by New York in a 99-89 home win Jan. 27. The Heat welcomed back Wade from an injury, while the Knicks were without Anthony.