New York Knicks fans have been bustling since Game 2’s heated post-game fiasco, during which an enraged Amar’e Stoudemire punched through an emergency glass case, resulting in a hand injury that could have him out for the rest of the series.
Two passionate sides to the "Amar’e injury debate" have emerged, each stating very different implications that the debacle could have on the remainder of the Knicks’ season: One side holds that this spells the end of the Knicks’ chances of quelling the Miami Heat in the playoffs, and the other believes it’s actually a blessing in disguise.
In reality, both sides are missing the point—whether you think the Knicks may be able to win one or two games without Amar’e in the lineup or they’ll simply get swept by the mighty Heat, they aren’t moving past their first-round series.
For those who believe that Amar’e’s injury takes the Knicks completely out of the series, look at the outcome of the first two games with Amar’e in the lineup. With Amar’e starting as power forward, the Knicks lost the first two games against Miami. The Knicks had a slim chance of upsetting the Heat going into the series, and an even lower chance of winning now that they are down 2-0 in the series.
Claiming that the loss of Amar’e is what will ultimately cause the loss of the series overlooks what he was truly providing the Knicks. With both Amar’e and Tyson Chandler on the court, the Knicks couldn’t find an offensive balance to hold a candle to Miami’s staunch defense.
Although Amar’e did manage 18 points in Game 2, he was not the force to be reckoned with on the court that he was anticipated to be upon his 2010 arrival in New York: The six-time All-Star hasn’t been that powerhouse player since the middle of last season.
Without Amar’e at his peak, he isn’t very influential when he finds his way onto the court, making his absence less of a blow.
For those who hold that Amar’e’s injury could actually benefit the Knicks, the argument contains only a small bit of truth that essentially comes out in the wash.
Obviously, Amar’e, Chandler and Carmelo Anthony had issues coexisting on the court. With Amar’e sidelined, the Knicks can go back to the formation that was so successful late in the season, when Amar’e was out with a back injury. Anthony can switch to the power forward position, allowing the Knicks to play as a smaller team and for ‘Melo to create interesting matchups.
Additionally, with Landry Fields presumably sliding into the starting small forward role, defense becomes an issue: Fields can’t effectively guard Dwyane Wade, as he proved in his Game 2 performance. He will stand even less of a chance against LeBron if the Knicks choose to go this route.
Both sides of the argument have merit. And with the season put in jeopardy by such an idiotic mishap, fans have the right to look for the silver lining. However, their value is severely reduced by the fact that they are up against the unstoppable juggernaut that is Miami.
For everyone who is fuming mad over Amar’e’s ignorance, you can take a breath: All in all, there’s not really much to be mad about. Amar’e’s absence will probably cause he Knicks to be more exciting in these next two games, allowing ‘Melo to take over and seeing an increase of three-pointers with the smaller lineup on the court.
With ‘Melo at power forward, there will be more opportunities for players like Steve Novak to fill the small forward position that ‘Melo will vacate. With more shooters on the court, there will be more space for ‘Melo to operate and more excitement overall.
As we saw in last season’s playoffs, the Knicks may be competitive without Amar’e, but they are missing the firepower to take them over the top and win even a single game, let alone an entire series.
But in the end, it doesn’t come down to what the Knicks have going for them or have lost over the past few days: It’s simply a matter of who they’re up against. Because of the dominance of their opponent, the loss of Stoudemire is ultimately meaningless to the Knicks.
With or without Amar’e, the Knicks have barely any hope of beating the Heat.
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