After a win against the Bucks on April 11th, the Knicks all but clinched a playoff berth, their second in two consecutive years. However, based on last year’s results, this may not seem like a huge feat as they failed to win a single game.
This raises a vital question: can the Knicks go further than the first round this year?
The Knicks are set to match up against the Miami Heat, a dominant force in the east and certainly no walk in the park opponent. In order for the Knicks to pull off a victory, essentially everything must go right for New York.
First, all players need to fit into their respective roles. As we have seen with the Mavs, this is such a crucial component to a championship team.
Carmelo needs to keep doing what he’s doing, which is taking the majority of the shots and delivering.
Shumpert needs to be the lockdown, fearless defender we’ve seen all season, and will have to sacrifice his offense to ‘Melo.
J.R. Smith needs to be smart and make the right decisions at the right time (Meaning no step-back fade-away jumpers with a hand in your face with 14 seconds on the shot clock).
Chandler has to keep doing what he’s doing, anchoring the Knicks’ defense as he’s done all year, earning candidacy for Defensive Player of the Year.
Finally, Steve Novak needs to knock down his shots. With all the attention centered around ‘Melo, Novak will be left with open threes all day. If Novak can knock ‘em down consistently throughout the series, the Knicks will have a shot at taking down the Big Three in Miami.
Even if everyone embraces their role, however, the Heat are such a tough opponent that in order for the Knicks to win, they must answer the question on everyone’s mind, and answer it fast: can ‘Melo and Amar’e work together?
If they can, as they did on Sunday against the Hawks, sharing the ball on offense putting up a combined 61 points, that’ll be the X-factor in the Knicks’ success. If they can’t, however, expect another underwhelming, anti-climatic series similar to against Boston last year.