Like most Knicks fans, I came to the crushing realization tonight that as currently constructed we simply cannot beat Miami. Something had to change, and maybe it had to be addition by subtraction.
It's just not a coincidence anymore that the Knicks keep playing better without Amar'e Stoudemire. Whenever he's out Carmelo Anthony looks like...well, Carmelo Anthony. Their uncomfortable game of, "No, now it's my turn" made for terrible basketball.
For the Knicks to go anywhere they have to unleash Carmelo. He needs to be in complete control at all times. There were moments where it looked like that was happening tonight, but every Knicks rally was killed by Mike Woodson's stubborn refusal to play Anthony and Stoudemire separately, making it incredibly hard for Carmelo to get into a rhythm.
But now the Knicks can go back to the style that made them so dangerous at the end of the season. Iman Shumpert is out, but the rest of the pieces are in place. Carmelo will move to the 4, presumably joined in the starting lineup by Baron Davis, Landry Fields, J.R. Smith (who played surprisingly strong defense on Dwyane Wade when given the chance) and Tyson Chandler.
And then, of course, there's Jeremy Lin. If the Knicks can win one game, everything turns around. Suddenly the pressure is on Miami to finish them off before they get their confidence up. And if Lin comes back for Game 4? Madison Square Garden might just have a Willis Reed situation on their hands.
Lin won't be the same player he was during Linsanity. He's not going to be a star. But he will be a huge moral boost. If his teammates see him risking injury to return, they'll believe that he believes they can actually win. There is nothing more dangerous to a high seed than an underdog that actually believes they can win.
Finally, there are the long-term implications at work here. Suddenly the Knicks have an excuse to trade Amar'e should an offer come up. It's not likely, but wouldn't a small market team at least think about it? How else would a team like Milwaukee or Charlotte get a star?
The Knicks could have never traded Stoudemire before now because it would have been a PR disaster. He rides in on a white horse and saves basketball in New York, and then gets shipped out as soon as things start to turn?
James Dolan would have been skewered by the New York media even though it would have been the smart basketball move. Amar'e simply cannot coexist with Carmelo. All of a sudden the Knicks have an excuse to ship him out.
So let's not look at this as a disaster my fellow Knicks fans—let's look at it as an opportunity. All of a sudden Carmelo is free to be Carmelo. If the Knicks are ever going to beat the Heat, it has to be that way.