While Wednesday's Game 5 is a must-win game for the Knicks by definition, it also happens to be a pretty important game for those Heat. Of course, Miami would appreciate the rest afforded by a short series as much as the next team.
But Miami's confidence may be an even more important consideration.
One game could do a lot of damage to that confidence, a game some are expecting Jeremy Lin to play in.
Amar'e Stoudemire's early return to action set a momentous tone for New York, and Lin's would no doubt do the same. Lin would complete a lineup that will be missing Baron Davis and could desperately use any kind of clutch presence.
New York faces plenty of "ifs" to be sure. There's no guarantee Stoudemire will remain as effective as he was in Game 4 (with 20 points and 10 rebounds). And it's downright unlikely that Lin is anything but rusty.
Probabilities aside, though, there's the real risk of a perfect storm brewing in Miami on Wednesday night.
As confident as Miami may be at the moment, the last thing Erik Spoelstra's club wants to do is return to New York for a Game 6. Should the Knicks leave Miami with an upset, there's no telling what Mike Woodson's team could do back home.
Jeremy Lin isn't the only reason for Knicks fans to believe the impossible.
Carmelo Anthony returned to form in Game 4 with a 41-point outburst, and this team prevailed with no one else (other than Stoudemire) having a particularly good game.
And we at least now know that New York can win a game. If Lin can make a modest contribution and J.R. Smith can improve upon his 3-15 shooting night in Game 4, the Knicks might just be able to win two games.
However much that would mean to New York's confidence, it would mean far more to the Heat.
After a 33-point opening win, Miami looked invincible. Until Sunday, it also looked destined to sweep New York.
Now, the Knicks are in position for a different kind of sweep: the kind that steals all the headlines.
The situation is almost too good to be true—the hero of the year with a chance to be the hero of the postseason. Lin could make this series about the Knicks again, and he could give Miami a run for its money in the process.
Miami will almost certainly survive this series one way or another, but the Knicks could take great satisfaction in shaking an apparently implacable confidence.
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