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Time to address the elephant in the room. Before getting into things like home court advantage and playoff experience, we have to have the obligatory clutch discussion. Before we get into numbers, keep in mind that statistically clutch is defined as "4th quarter or overtime, less than 5 minutes left, neither team ahead by more than 5 points".
Miami is criticized by everyone for not being a clutch team, and those criticisms are right on. Clutch teams win close games against their biggest competitors. For Miami, those teams are Chicago and Boston. Ignoring tuesday's game, Miami had a stretch dating back to mid March where they went 1-4 against those teams.
As big of a deal as this is on its' own, it's even bigger when you factor in injuries. Chicago was without Derrick Rose for both losses, and Boston was without Ray Allen for one of their games. Miami had several chances to make statements against their biggest rivals and couldn't do it, costing themselves home court advantage throughout the playoffs.
Now let's look at individuals. LeBron James is statistically the league's 17th best crunch time scorer, wedged nicely between Anthony Morrow and Jarret Jack. His field goal percentage dips to just below 39% in crunch time. Dwyane Wade is even worse, his percentage falls to below 38 percent and he is ranked 30th.
What is most concerning though is their drop in free throw percentage. James drops to 68 percent while Wade drops to 64 percent. Free throws have been proven to be the most psychologically driven shot in basketball, because players have time to think that they wouldn't on a field goal. This drop signals that James and Wade actually feel the pressure of the moment and get tight.
New York on the other hand has Carmelo Anthony. Anthony is statistically the third best crunch time scorer in the league. He is consistently ranked near the top of the crunch time rankings every year. The Knicks should feel far more comfortable at the end of games with Anthony than Miami should with James or Wade.
Combined playoff experience is a wash. Though James and Wade have been to the finals multiple times, the Knicks have their share of experience as well. Anthony, Stoudemire, Chandler and Davis have all played deep into the playoffs before. The one worry for the Knicks is their younger guys like Shumpert and Fields.
Though the Heat have home court advantage, the Knicks should actually feel much better about their crowd. Miami fans are notorious for coming to games late and not exactly being the loudest group. That will only be amplified in the playoffs when tickets become more expensive and the die hard fans are phased out for the trendier rich fans who just want to say they were there. Playoff games in Miami don't exactly put the fear of god into opponents, they're just a step above neutral site games.
Madison Square Garden on the other hand, will have a raucous crowd for games three, four and six. The Knicks haven't been this good in over a decade, so the fans (who are among the loudest in the league anyway) will be going nuts. Given their crunch time issues, playing close games at The Garden with that crowd can't be too exciting for the Knicks. If it comes down to the last few minutes in New York, the Knicks will have a huge advantage. The same cannot be said for the Heat in Miami.
I know you can't exactly measure intangibles, but you can at least size up where each team stands. This one is clear, the Knicks have the edge.
Edge: New York