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New York vs. Miami: Defend the pick-and-roll and win.

Dec 17, 2010, 6:00 PM EST

New Jersey Nets v Miami Heat Getty Images

The Miami Heat run devastating pick-and-roll combinations — LeBron James and Zydrunas Ilgauskas have been doing it for years, and now a few times a game LeBron is setting picks for Wade and that can be an unstoppable combination.

After a slow start to the season, the Knicks Raymond Felton/Amare Stoudemire pick-and-roll has become a very efficient weapon. Which shouldn’t be shocking, Stoudemire is the best roll man in the game. He can pop, he is devastating going to the rim. And in vintage Mike D’Antoni style, the Knicks spread the floor around that play with guys who can knock down the open shot on the kick-out when you help off them.

What that means is Friday night at Madison Square Garden — whoever can defend the pick and roll best will probably win.

Kevin Arnovitz breaks it down fantastically at ESPN’s Heat Index.

Like every Knicks’ opponent, the Heat will have a series of tough choices to make. Do they want Stoudemire’s defender to pressure Felton off the pick-and-roll? If so, then the Heat’s other big man better be ready to stand in front of the freight train as Stoudemire dives to the hoop. James might be one of the best help defenders in the NBA in these situations, but if he’s going to leave Gallinari all alone on the arc, somebody in a Heat jersey better be prepared to rotate over, or else Felton makes an easy skip pass for an uncontested 3. Cheat off Chandler and he can make you pay as both a shooter or a slasher (he’s finishing at the rim at a 81.6 percent clip). Fortunately for the Heat, they have both speed and intuition — and they’ll need a healthy dose of both on Friday night to contain the Knicks.

So far this season, the Heat have defended the pick-and-roll ball handler well — he is shooting 38.5 percent — but the roll man is having considerably more success when he gets the ball back, shooting 51.9 percent.

On the season, the Knicks have held the pick-and-roll ball handler to 43.7 percent shooting, while the roll man is shooting 50 percent even. (Stats via Synergy Sports.)

There are going to be a lot of pick-and-rolls tonight. The team that defends that better — and defends better in transition — will get the win.

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