NEW YORK (WFAN) – It’s a great playoff rivalry renewed: New York against Miami.
Remember the Game 5 brawl in 1997?
Knicks fans may consider that a series to forget, but they’ll surely look back fondly on three consecutive series wins over the Heat — all going the distance — from 1998-2000.
“Last year we played to shut everybody up and to prove people wrong instead of playing to win a championship,” said Miami guard Dwyane Wade. “We should have played the way we had our whole lives — to raise the trophy up and be called champions. We didn’t have that mindset. That’s different now.”
New York clinched the No. 7 seed Thursday night. Carmelo Anthony & Co. have been riding high on a resurgence orchestrated by interim head coach Mike Woodson, who has this team believing they can pull off the upset.
Game 1 will tip off in Miami on Saturday afternoon.
“We feel we can compete against any team in the league,” said Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire. “We feel like we’ve been playing well under Coach Woodson. It’s going to be a tight battle. Every game against Miami has been a tight one. So it’s really anyone’s game.’’
The Knicks, 18-6 under Woodson, wrapped up their regular season Thursday with a 104-84 trouncing of Charlotte.
“I couldn’t be happier,” Woodson said. “It was a great regular season and now it’s playoff basketball time. They will be ready.”
But the team’s surge may hit a brick wall in the Heat’s big three of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Wade. The second-seeded Miami flexed their muscle against New York this season, taking all three regular-season games.
The trio will be out to prove they’re good enough not only to make it back to the finals after last year’s letdown, but to take the title to South Beach.
“Obviously, losing burns,” said Wade. “And it hurts. But we wanted it last year just as much as this year. That wound is still there. Going into the postseason you have to relive kind of the moments from last year so you can feel that hurt a little bit, and refocus. But we want it just as bad.”
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