This is it. After what happened two Sundays ago, few thought we would even get this far, but we did. Believe me, I'm just as surprised as most of you are.
Game 5 is upon us, and the Knicks have one final opportunity to make magic. If we're lucky, perhaps they'll escape and have one more. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.
Desperation: that's what drove Carmelo to play the way he did Sunday afternoon. If he continues to play that way—with energy, desire and a noticeable drive—he can handle LeBron James. There's no doubt about that.
The second stop on Amar'e Stoudemire's redemption tour also needs to be just as exhilarating as the first. We need another 20-10 night from him, and not the quiet kind. We need an in-your-face loud kind of 20-10 night from STAT. The kind he delivered against the Lakers on the regular when he played with the Suns. The kind he has always been feared and respected for—the kind we expected from him when he was signed.
Tyson Chandler has shown up this series, we can't deny that. Apart from his game one performance, slowed by the flu, he has been the consummate defensive general. He scored just one point in game four, but can anyone deny how strongly his presence was felt throughout the afternoon? Chandler just needs to continue doing what he does best—be both invisible and mightily present at the same time.
And as always, an appearance from J.R. Smith would be nice, too. As injuries decimate more and more of the starting unit, Smith becomes an even larger component to the team's in-game strategy. He absolutely needs to perform well for the Knicks to survive another game. He has yet to break 20 points in this series, but tonight's the night he needs to make it happen.
And then there's Steve Novak. There is no one on this earth that needs Jeremy Lin back on the court more than Novak. Together, the duo were a remarkable plus-23 points per 48 minutes when they were on the floor together. While it's unlikely they'll be reunited this year, we can do little but hope that Novak finally finds a way to exceed the paltry nine shot attempts he's had in the first four games.
New York's big three are capable of great things. In fact, I'd be willing to say that they are equipped to, one day, win a championship. That day may not come in 2012, but the their performance Wednesday night will reveal just how close they can be right now.