NBA Playoffs 2012: Why There Is Still Hope for the New York Knicks

Matt Dienstag@MEDdaWorldStagContributor IIIApril 29, 2012

MIAMI, FL - APRIL 28:  Forward Carmelo Anthony #7 (L) of the New York Knicks is defended by Forward LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat in Game One of the Eastern  Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs  on April 28, 2012 at the American Airines Arena in Miami, Florida. The Heat defeated the Knicks 100-67. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

The postseason couldn't have started any worse for the Knicks.

Going into the game, they knew they wouldn't have a healthy Tyson Chandler at his best, and it showed as the game progressed.

By the time it was over, not only were the Knicks humiliated in a 100-67 Game 1 defeat to the Miami Heat, but rookie guard Iman Shumpert was lost for the season to a knee injury when he tore his ACL in the third quarter.

As demoralizing of a loss as it was, all hope for the Knicks is not lost for the series.

There is no question Shumpert was the x-factor for the Knicks, and his versatility and defensive intensity will surely be missed. However, losing a first-year player cannot and should not be the end-all, be-all for the season.

The perfect storm of catastrophe struck the Knicks all at once yesterday. They were playing with a Tyson Chandler that looked on the verge of vomiting, they got a total of 20 points combined from their two superstars and became the victim of an atrociously officiated basketball game.

The officials didn't cost the Knicks the game, but they sure as hell weren't going to keep them in it. LeBron James flopped his way to the foul line constantly in the second quarter, as the referees were not shy to whistle any touch fouls on the Knicks.

However, at the other end, Carmelo Anthony was getting mauled on the offensive side of the ball. James continually had his arms all over Anthony in an attempt to deny ball entry to the Knicks' best offensive weapon.

Tempers flared for the Knicks in the second quarter as the game began to slip away.
Tempers flared for the Knicks in the second quarter as the game began to slip away.Marc Serota/Getty Images

The Heat attempted 33 free throws for the game compared to the Knicks' 11.

Emotions ran high in second quarter, as everything was going the Heat's way and the Knicks did a poor job of overcoming a sluggish start.

Bottom line here is that Knicks played their worst game of the season yesterday under Woodson, and things can only get better.

Here are some reasons for optimism going forward:

A Sick Tyson Chandler is a Useless Tyson Chandler

It was obvious that Chandler was not himself yesterday. He looked lost and confused on offense and defense. Chandler is normally around the rim to score easy baskets, but yesterday, this was not the case.

He was called for four offensive fouls in the first half, which further limited his minutes on the court.

On defense, he looked too exhausted to commit the type of defensive effort he has brought all season, constantly getting out-rebounded and being beat to the basket.

The Knicks need a healthy Tyson Chandler to have any hope at getting a split in Miami. Without Chandler, the Knicks defense falls apart and will allow for another field day for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

Stoudemire needs to assert himself offensively in Game 2, as his nine-point effort in Game 1 just won't cut it.
Stoudemire needs to assert himself offensively in Game 2, as his nine-point effort in Game 1 just won't cut it.Marc Serota/Getty Images

The Superstars Can't Play Worse

Twenty points combined from Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire just isn't going to cut it. I find it hard to believe we'll see another similar joint performance the rest of the series and expect the two franchise players to lead by example in Game 2.

Both players were clearly frustrated by the officiating, but they need to do a better job at overcoming the adversity. The Heat were doing a great job closing out the Knicks' shooters all game; the Knicks need to find ways to create space on the floor to create opportunities.

Anthony was struggling with his jump shot early, but kept going back to it. It wasn't Carmelo's day yesterday, but fully expect better performances the rest of the way. Anthony has been playing too well over the last month for one game to derail his postseason.

Stoudemire unfortunately has to rely on his teammates to get him the ball in position to score. He needs to attack the glass and be a force in the paint to command the Heat's attention. If Amar'e can get it going inside, then the outside will open up.

Knicks Bounce Back Well Under Woodson

In the 24 games Woodson has coached the Knicks, they have yet to lose back-to-back games. Woodson has done a great job at analyzing defeats and making adjustments to prevent losing streaks from ever occurring.

Mike Woodson has done a great job at nipping losing streaks in the bud before they begin.
Mike Woodson has done a great job at nipping losing streaks in the bud before they begin.Marc Serota/Getty Images

Woodson has quite the task ahead of him on Monday night. He's going to need more consistent guard play out of Baron Davis, Mike Bibby and J.R. Smith. Losing Shumpert is going to hurt the Knicks' ability to push the ball up the court, so they are going to have to improve upon their half-court offense.

Cut Down on the Turnovers...Drastically

The Knicks committed 24 turnovers as a team, which translated into 38 points for the Heat. If the Knicks don't decrease the amount of turnovers, they have no shot.

The Heat offense is motored by points-off-turnovers. Miami's offense was struggling to score until the Knicks got sloppy with the basketball in the second quarter.

By cutting down the turnovers, the Knicks can slow down Miami's attack. There were far too many careless passes and way too much dribbling out of J.R. Smith that forced the Knicks offense to spiral out of control.

The Knicks need to get back to solid ball movement and off the ball screening to open up the passing lanes.

The Knicks need big performances out of their Big Three on Monday night in order to have a chance at getting back into the series.


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