The New York Knicks are the only team in the East that are in the same stratosphere as the Miami Heat when it comes to on-paper talent.
The Knicks had two convincing blowout wins over the Heat this season where they lit Miami's defense up from beyond the arc for a total of 37 three-pointers in the two games. They also averaged 108 points while limiting the Heat to just 88 points in those two wins.
Still, this comes down to how serious of a threat the Knicks can be to the Heat when it matters most. With both team's having relatively complete top-to-bottom rosters (more so the Knicks than Heat), it comes down to the battle of the stars.
As amazing as Carmelo Anthony has been this season, will it be enough to compensate for Amar'e Stoudemire's diminished production?
The Knicks have the tools to beat Miami, but it remains to be seen if they can jell like a championship team.
Will Carmelo keep his ego in check? Will Amar'e be able to thrive when he's on the court with Anthony?
The fact is that New York displayed the blueprint for beating the Heat in its two victories against Miami this season, but that will be very difficult to maintain in a playoff series.
The Heat aren't going to allow an average of 17 converted three-pointers in the playoffs, and they will put a huge emphasis on limiting the ball movement by trying to force Carmelo into isolation plays.
The Heat will rely on fronting as well as the defense from James and Shane Battier, who were very effective against the Knicks in last season's playoff series.
Also, the Knicks have a very old backcourt and will rely heavily on Raymond Felton's health for their success in the playoffs.
New York is undoubtedly the Heat's biggest threat to returning to the Finals, but at the end of the day, that's all they are: a relatively high threat.
Threat Meter: 7.5, Medium to Relatively High
Note: A relatively high threat takes into consideration how much more of a threat West teams like the Thunder, Clippers and Spurs are to the Heat, while the Knicks can't be put on the same level as those teams.
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