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NBA PLAYOFFS

Tonight's Series Preview

May 07, 1997|MARK HEISLER

2. MIAMI HEAT vs. 3. NEW YORK KNICKS

* Season series: Knicks, 3-1.

There have been archrivalries but few in NBA history to match this one between the Knicks and their former coach, Pat Riley, who negotiated secretly with Miami while still with them, faxed in his resignation and left to rebuild the Heat into a power that rose to near the top of its division.

Riley is booed like a war criminal in New York. The Heat has long been enraged by expatriate New Yorkers who cheer for the Knicks at Miami home games. Alonzo Mourning once went into the stands after one.

The Knicks will have been off nine days since sweeping the wounded Charlotte Hornets--a gift for Patrick Ewing, who has practiced little for two months to rest his sore knees.

The Knicks shot a torrid 57% against the Hornets. Meanwhile, the Heat was fighting for its life against the Magic, a series that might have exposed Miami's shortcomings. The Heat lacks firepower, and now leading scorer Tim Hardaway is cold. In the last three games against the Magic, he shot four for 16, five for 18 and five for 20.

* Prediction: Knicks, 4-2. But whoever limps out of this one will know they've been in a series.

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