NBA Playoffs 2012: 4 Reasons the Knicks Miss Jeremy Lin Against the Heat
It’s so remarkable how just three letters could hold such significance. Even more remarkable is how four months ago these three letters were nothing more than an acronym for liquid nitrogen.
To the world now, LIN symbolizes a player who broke boundaries and proved that hard work does, indeed, pay off.
Lin’s name has actually been in my search bar for a while, ever since he started posting YouTube videos during the lockout. Back then, which was honestly not too long ago, to get information on Lin, I had to venture into the unknown—Page 2 of Google search results. Nowadays, know what’s there? Maya Lin, the world-renowned artist who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Anybody who says they expected Linsanity to happen is not very good at lying.
With that being said, what’s so great about Lin? Why is his jersey the No. 2 seller in the NBA, ahead of the jersey sales of such high-profile players as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade? His 14.6 points and 6.2 assists per game don't justify any of this Linsanity, nor does it reflect the impact he has on his team.
With Lin falling victim to an injury and Knicks coach Mike Woodson saying there is “no chance” of him seeing time during the first round of the playoffs, the Knicks' hopes of getting anywhere this postseason are slim at best. It doesn’t help that their first opponent is probably the best team in the league when at full strength.
What exactly will the Knicks be lacking in the absence of their global phenomenon?
Carmelo Anthony is a tank, simply put. When he’s at his best, there’s little you can do to stop him from putting the ball in the basket. While he’s always been a dominant scorer, it seems as if Anthony’s more comfortable and efficient with Lin out of the lineup. With Lin, Carmelo got his points, as all scorers do, but wasn’t playing to his full potential.
Translation: Anthony is good when the team has no leader.
In the time that Lin has been out, Anthony has handled responsibilities that don’t belong to him, like bringing the ball up the court. Somehow, Anthony's scored more than 32 points eight times (including two 42-plus point games) in this dysfunctional style of play.
And while scoring is fun to watch, almost everything is else is not. Like watching J.R Smith take 15 threes a game, or Mike Bibby try to run a pick and roll, or Landry Fields lose his confidence, or Baron Davis make lazy passes, or Anthony think he has an idea of how to run a team.
Because Mike Woodson can’t tell his players what to do every play (basketball moves very quickly), there needs to be someone on the floor to restore order. Jeremy Lin filled that role. He was this team's locomotive. Without him, the Knicks are hurting against the Heat.
You know what they say: Stars win games, leaders win championships. Just kidding, nobody ever said that. But now I have.
One stat from Saturday’s embarrassing loss to the Heat sums it up. The Knicks had 11 assists.
Whether you blame it on the refs, the Miami fans, LeBron’s flops, LeBron’s dominance, the loss of Shumpert, etc., who can you blame for only having 11 assists? All things considered, the Heat are the best defensive team in the NBA, and that definitely played a role. But ultimately, the reason for such a humiliating loss and such poor distribution of the ball boils down to one thing: the lack of plays that were run.
In the 25 games that Jeremy Lin started, he often ran a textbook pick-and-roll play with Tyson Chandler, which resulted in frequent easy buckets. By executing the world’s most common and simple basketball play, Lin made everything open up for the Knicks.
Seriously, how good did Chandler look when Lin kept running pick-and-rolls for him? I must’ve seen at least 15 alley-oops on YouTube alone.
On the contrary, with Lin out, Knicks fans now (grudgingly?) have to watch one isolation play after another. A combined 32 field-goal attempts (compared to 38 from the rest of the team) from Anthony and J.R. Smith reveals the isolation-type offense the Knicks run without Lin.
It’s common knowledge that basketball’s a team sport. Unless the Knicks can find someone to help them play like one, they’ll be in trouble.
The Knicks are easily one of the deepest teams in the NBA. Well, they were one of the deepest teams in the NBA.
With a great set of role players including J.R. Smith, Steve Novak, Iman Shumpert and Baron Davis, the Knicks always had fresh legs to put on the court while the starters took a breather.
However, following Lin’s injury, the only capable players of bringing the ball up the court are Iman Shumpert, Baron Davis, Mike Bibby, and Toney Douglas.
That was until Shumpert tore his ACL on Saturday. So unless you consider Davis, Bibby and Douglas as reliable backcourt depth, the Knicks are destined for trouble.
Had Lin been healthy, Davis would have been fine as a backup. But since Lin is longer active, Davis and Bibby must shoulder more of the load together. In Game 1, Bibby played 21 minutes and Davis 17. The two combined for four assists.
Davis and Bibby? Oh, so that's how Mario Chalmers got 11 points and 9 assists on 60% shooting.
“Positivity is contagious. Unfortunately, so is negativity.”—Alan Stein
You probably know what I mean when I say “the thing.” It’s an extremely difficult concept to explain if you don’t.
The way Lin carries himself and plays the game, it’s like he's 6'2" of positive energy. As a Nets fan, I even found myself rooting for the Knicks. And yes, I did start running around the house when Lin hit the game-winner against the Raptors. Don’t lie and say you didn’t, too.
The “thing” that Lin has is the same “thing” that makes his teammates so much better and also what makes him so likeable. It’s also why the Knicks played with such passion when Lin was healthy.
Virtually after every nice play, Lin would be found somewhere on the court screaming like a maniac. People feed off of the energy of others. There is no better example of this than Lin.
On Saturday, there was little animation from the Knicks. The most energetic Knick was probably Tyson Chandler, who got in a tussle with Udonis Haslem. Unfortunately, this kind of energy is more negative than it is positive. As a result, the rest of the Knicks fed off Tyson’s poor attitude.