MIAMI -- The irony is not lost on Dwyane Wade.
Just as Wade's sons Zion and Zaire can be found playing basketball on the AmericanAirlines Arena practice court on the nights of Miami Heat home games, that's where Wade found Tim Hardaway Jr. when Wade was breaking into the NBA.
Now the son of the former Heat All-Star point guard sets up as considerable competition Saturday night, when the Heat play the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden, with Hardaway Jr. coming off Thursday's 29-point performance in a victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
"I came in and little Timmy was up here during the games, playing up here like my kids are now," Wade said after Friday's practice. "To see now that I'm playing against him, when he checked into the game, I took that moment and I looked at him like, 'This is unbelievable.' "
That was on Jan. 9, in the Heat's first game of the four-game season series, when Hardaway played 13 minutes and scored five points in the Knicks' 102-92 victory, a performance that featured a vicious putback dunk by the first-round pick out of Michigan over Ray Allen.
"Timmy Jr., he has a very good chance in this league to be good for multiple years," Wade said. "I just told him I want to get him before he gets real good. By the time he gets real good, I'll be watching him.
"Last game, I went to the post on him a couple of times, and Raymond Felton said something like, 'You want to try to take advantage of the little fella?' I said, 'I got to try to get him early.' Because this kid, he has all the makeup to be an All-Star in this league for multiple years."
Among the reasons Greg Oden was held out of Wednesday's loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the lone game he has missed in the past four, was the Thunder's move to a smaller lineup.
Asked if he feels comfortable enough in his comeback from years of severe knee issues to defend on the perimeter in such situations, Oden said Friday, "I mean, I don't know how great it's going to be. But I feel comfortable enough to go out there and play.
"I'm ready every game, hoping I get in."
Oden said conditioning remains an issue. He was the lone Heat player not to scrimmage Friday.
"It's not where I want it to be," he said. "It's still got a long ways to go, but I'm getting there."
Saturday's moment is not lost on the Heat, playing in New York with the Super Bowl across the Hudson River on Sunday.
"The league is very smart," Wade said, "how to pick the right games at the right times in a long season, to keep the excitement going."
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said his team is braced.
"I mean it's always electric in New York, and that's why it's one of the best environments to play in for a pro athlete," he said. "Guys always enjoy that. It'll probably be even more so. It'll probably be a little more of a playoff-type crowd."
As for Super Bowl predictions, Wade said, "I got to go with my Gatorade family, and that would be Peyton Manning. The first time, I didn't want him to win. He was playing my Bears."
For his part, LeBron James said his pick also is the Denver Broncos, "It's hard to go (against) Manning, their resume, their DNA."
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