NBA Playoffs 2012: 7 Bold Predictions for the New York Knicks
Who isn’t pumped up? The playoffs begin this Saturday!
Just as the New York Knicks have shrugged off a squeezed-in schedule, at last in the final week comes an abrupt postseason, smack in their faces.
It isn’t going to be easy. It looks like the worst-case scenario is developing: Seventh-seeded New York will be heading to second-seeded Miami to face the Heat for Game 1.
But, wait a second, what if the Knicks slip that scene in Round 1?
There’s still a chance.
After going 15-5 under Mike Woodson, including wins against the 76ers, Bucks, Magic, Bulls, Celtics and a solid win over the Hawks minus Tyson Chandler, the Knicks appear to have turned a corner—a step they always seem on the verge of making but never do.
Are they finally for real?
What if a whole different scenario develops over the next few days?
Let’s boldly go where no one else is going.
1. New York Knicks Take the Sixth Seed
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A well-rested Tyson Chandler returns to the lineup Wednesday night, joining scoring stud Carmelo Anthony and a new-do’d and seemingly revitalized Amar’e Stoudemire. Defense will reign again.
With two big men containing Blake Griffin, Iman Shumpert hounding Chris Paul, a resurgent Landry Fields, Baron Davis and the usual 30-plus points from Carmelo Anthony in big games, the Knicks have what it takes to beat the Clippers.
They’ll be home, too, and at 10-1, the Knicks own the Garden under Woodson.
That leaves the 7-56 Charlotte Bobcats on Thursday facing a hot team on an upswing.
But the Knicks need help.
The Orlando Magic, a dysfunctional team on the downswing and current owners of that sixth seed, have two games left, also. They need to lose both.
First, the 7-56 Charlotte Bobcats. Don’t laugh. The Bobcats beat the Magic the last time the two teams met—and that was with Dwight Howard, Hedo Turkoglu and a 100 percent Jameer Nelson. Those three won’t be there this time around. Admittedly, though, it’s a reach.
Then the Magic face the tough Memphis Grizzlies the following night on the road.
If the Knicks win both games and the Magic lose both theirs, New York and Orlando will wind up tied, but the Knicks own the tiebreaker.
2. Landry Fields Redeems Himself
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Landry Fields had seven points in last year’s postseason. He added five rebounds in the four-game sweep.
But Fields looked like a different person against the Hawks Sunday (7-of-8 for 18 points and 3-for-3 from behind the arc) and if he can keep that up for the duration, expect a greater contribution this postseason.
With Fields' “mojo rising,” expect him to easily surpass last year’s postseason sludge in a single playoff game.
Lay it out there for a whole series, and the Knicks have that little extra from that role player every playoff team needs to succeed.
3. Anthony and Stoudemire Combine for 50 Points a Game in Round 1
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With all the talk of these two not playing well together, maybe fans’ standards are a little bit high.
These two have played to a tune of 50 points or more a good number of times, and 40 or more many times.
Anthony is as hot as ever. Minus that poor performance in Cleveland, Melo’s averaging 30 points a game his last nine.
STAT, despite solid numbers, was dragging the whole season and playing below his level. He has been obviously nursing that back injury. Did the layoff help? It might be exactly what was needed.
It’s the rest of the team that needs to pick up the slack. Where’s Derek Fisher when you need him?
Look, it’s time to point the offensive finger elsewhere. Chandler, Fields, Shumpert, Davis, Steve Novak, J.R. Smith and even Toney Douglas are all capable of scoring in double figures.
The addition of those threats can only take more pressure off STAT and Melo, freeing them for additional opportunities.
Another way to do it: keep the Big Two off the court at the same time.
4. Knicks Win Their First Playoff Game Since Jeff Van Gundy
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Whether they face the Pacers, the Heat or (remotely possible) the Bulls, the New York Knicks will at last win their first playoff game in 11 years.
Back then, Jeff Van Gundy’s team was bounced by the Toronto Raptors in five.
Depending on who the Knicks court, they may even win more than a game, or even…
5. New York Knicks Win a Playoff Series
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It all depends on getting that sixth seed.
Frankly—and it’s crushing, but it’s important to be a little rational now—the Knicks have not shown they can even keep it close with the Heat in a second half, much less win a series outright.
The Knicks would blow the Pacers’ tires. Just have to win one game on the road.
But, yeah, they need that sixth seed for this to happen. Here’s an idea: Pray.
Crazier things have happened, no?
6. The Return of Jeremy Lin!
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Make it to the second round, and the Knicks will be for the first time (barring any first-round injuries) fully healthy and all hands on deck.
Jeremy Lin will make his triumphant return and immediately contribute, making New York the most dangerous it’s been all season. He’s already up and jogging, according to Ian Begley over at ESPN.
But even our positive scenario hits a wall. There’s no way out of it…
7. It’s Inevitable. Knicks Lose to Heat in Playoffs
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Round 1 or Round 2, it’s a Heat knockout.
Passing the Pacers still puts Miami on the Knicks’ map, as the brackets go.
It’s hard to explain. On paper, it seems the Knicks should be a lot more competitive against the Heat.
Anthony-Stoudemire-Chandler vs. James-Wade-Bosh should play out a lot closer than it does.
Is it the disparity in benches?
This will be a tough and tightly-fought series, more so than has been represented by the three Heat wins during the year.
The Knicks will win that first playoff game in so many years, and possibly more than that. They are peaking now, too.
And what about the coach? Woodson has a lot to prove (and a contract to earn), especially if these two teams meet in Round 1.
Could this series go seven?
However it goes, this is going to be the best postseason in New York in over a decade. Buckle Up.