After being eliminated from the playoffs the last two seasons by the New York Knicks, including last year's heart-wrenching first-round loss on Allan Houston's short jumper with 0.8 second left in the final game, the Miami Heat seemed destined for retribution.
There was Anthony Carter's game-winning runner in Game3 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series that the Knicks thought flew over the top of the backboard. There was Dan Majerle's resurrection from the offensively dead in Miami's Game 5 victory, when he squeezed 16points out of his battle-worn, 34-year-old body.
And, Friday night, there was the seemingly insurmountable 18-point second-quarter lead the Heat built over the Knicks in what, until the final seconds, looked like a sure series-clinching, demon-exorcising victory in New York.
But now, as the teams prepare for a decisive Game7 today at American Airlines Arena in Miami, the force seems to have switched sides and handed the momentum to the Knicks.
How else to explain the Knicks' comeback from a 45-30 halftime deficit in Game6? How else to explain the fact that they never took a second-half lead until Houston scored the game's final points, on free throws, with 17.6seconds left, in the Knicks' 72-70 victory?"It was absolute madness," said Miami coach Pat Riley.
Not only do the Knicks appear to have the edge in Game 7 in that they are coming off a remarkable come-from-behind victory, but they also have history on their side. They have defeated the Heat the past two seasons by winning decisive games on Miami's home floor. In fact, the Knicks have won five of their past nine playoff games there."There's a lot of life in us," said Knicks center Patrick Ewing, who recorded 15points and 18rebounds in Game 6. "We feel good."