Can the New York Knicks Take the Miami Heat in a 7-Game Playoff Series?
Last night's thrilling contest between the Knicks and Heat featured some of the intensity that took the NBA by storm in the mid-1990's. The game was physical, fueled by defense, and you could truly sense hatred beginning to boil over.
The Knicks win gave them a split in the season series with Miami, and has lead many to question whether the Knicks can take Miami in a seven-game series. The answer.....yes. Here's why:
Carmelo's presence on the court gives the Knicks two dominant scorers, meaning New York can ease up on Amare's workload, keeping him fresh for the playoffs.
On top of that, it makes it incredibly difficult for Miami to double-team Amar'e. Melo had no problem blowing by LeBron all game, and the addition of a second consistent scorer will make it tough on Miami's defense.
The addition of Billups is monumental for the Knicks playoff hopes. The former Finals MVP has certainly earned his nickname of "Mr. Big Shot," hitting a huge three with a minute left to give the Knicks the lead last night, and coming up with a key steal late in the game to help extend the Knicks lead.
Billups has the most experience of any Knick, and will serve as a great mentor for Toney Douglas. Billups addition to the club can't simply be summed up in stats; his presence alone makes the team much stronger.
Madison Square Garden
The Knicks have not won a playoff game since 2001, and the city is certainly ready to come out in full force to support them.
They play in the world's most famous arena, and the noise for Carmelo's first game in New York will sound like a dull roar compared to a Knicks-Heat playoff game.
Knicks fans are loud, and they're smart. They'll have a major home court advantage come playoff time.
No Home Court Advantage for Miami
I went to the game last night, and there were a TON of Knicks fans at the game. I mean a TON. Spike Lee had a front row seat, LeBron was being booed at the free throw line in the fourth quarter, and a "Beat the Heat" chant broke out at the end of the game.
This isn't so much a knock on Heat fans as it is a testament to Knicks fans. Miami seemed to crumble down the stretch, and with so many New Yorkers now living in Florida, don't be surprised to see many of them showing up come playoff time.
No real home court advantage will definitely hurt Miami.
Point Guard Issues for Heat
Who's Miami's point guard? Mario Chalmers? Carlos Arroyo? Dwayne Wade? LeBron James? It seems like the carousel at point guard has no end in sight for Miami, and the lack of a point guard to run the offense has lead to offensive breakdowns, especially late in games.
Coach Spoelstra is going to have to decide on a set rotation, and a set point guard before the playoffs, or listen to constant questions from the media and fans.
To be fair, neither Chalmers or Arroyo match up to Billups, but the Heat cannot go into the playoffs with no set starting point guard.
It's no secret that LeBron isn't exactly the most clutch player in basketball. Last night's game saw the Heat completely crumble down the stretch.
The Knicks used a 16-0 run to end the half to erase a 15-point deficit, and a 15-4 run at the end of the game to seal the deal.
LeBron saw his shot blocked at the end of a game, and then missed a three-pointer to tie the game with two seconds left. His history of not showing up in the big games is well-documented, and the Heat won't be able to get by the Knicks if LeBron doesn't show up.
New Knicks Additions
The Knicks are set to get combo guard Kelenna Azubuike back from injury, a big boost to their bench. They're also interested in adding Jared Jeffries and possibly Leon Powe. Jeffries is a great defensive presence, and will be able to guard either LeBron or Chris Bosh.
Azubuike gives the Knicks another option at guard, and is a source of instant offense.
While neither Mike D'antoni or Erik Spoelstra have won an NBA championship, D'antoni is much more experienced both in the regular season and the playoffs. Spoelstra has handled all the media attention well so far, but his inability to decide on a starting point guard could come back to haunt him.
Injury Issues for Miami
The Heat have struggled with injuries, especially to their bench. Udonis Haslem has been out basically the entire season, and Mike Miller has struggled to stay in the line-up. Everybody knows about Miami's big three, but the lack of depth will hamper them, especially in a rugged 7-game series.
Heat Overlooking the Knicks
For the Knicks, beating the Heat would be the top of the summit. Sticking it to LeBron and the Big Three would basically be their championship. Not so much for Miami.
Miami hasn't beaten Boston all season, and is still battling with Orlando for state supremacy. Then there's Chicago, who's formed their own big three with Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer, and Joakim Noah. But to Miami, the Knicks aren't a major deal.
When you overlook teams in the playoffs, you usually pay for it. While the Heat realize the Knicks split the series with them, there's definitely a chance of them becoming complacent.