Despite Miami's recent struggles, the Heat still are a formidable opponent. Can New York's recent additions of Melo and Billups find the chemistry in time with Stoudemire & Co. to prevail in this matchup?
If the Knicks do beat the Heat in the first round, their opponent in the Eastern Conference semifinals will likely be the Chicago Bulls and their "Big Three," Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah.
Will the Bulls and their likely league MVP this year, Rose, be a more formidable opponent than King James & His Court?
Can coach Mike D'Antoni prove Charles Barkley and the world wrong?
The likely No. 1 seed of the Eastern Conference and defending conference champions, the Boston Celtics, own the original "Big Three" of the recent era.
The unlikely trio, at the time, of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce came together in the 2007-08 season to dominate the league, winning Boston's first NBA Championship since the Larry Bird era in the 1980s by defeating Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals.
This would be, by far, the Knicks' greatest test in the playoffs.
Beside their "Big Three," the Celtics have their offense dictated by All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo, who leads the league in assists and is arguably the best rebounding point guard in the league.
Rounding out their starting lineup will be legendary all-time center, Shaquille O'Neal.
While years past his prime, Shaq is still a dominating presence in the paint, still commanding double-teams and still plugging up the middle on defense.
The Knicks do not have any player who could remotely match up with O'Neal in the paint and will be limited to making jump shots while O'Neal is in the game.
How confident are you that the Knicks can beat the Celtics in a seven-game series?
If by some miracle act of God that the Knicks defeat the almighty Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, then the Holy Grail of professional basketball awaits them in all its glory: the NBA Finals.
How confident are you of the Knicks being able to beat Kobe and the Lakers in the NBA Finals?
Current Lakers coach Phil Jackson was actually a reserve on that 1973 Knicks championship team.
Though perhaps not as difficult an opponent for the Knicks as the Celtics, the Lakers will still be a handful in the Finals.
Like against Boston, New York does not have a big man in the middle to match up with the Lakers' Bynum, who could run buckwild offensively on the Knicks in the paint.
What's also worrisome is that Bynum will be able to shut down the driving lanes on defense, reducing the Knicks to a jump-shooting team, similar to their matchup against the Celtics.
It doesn't inspire confidence that sometimes-starting Knicks center, Ronny Turiaf, was a second-round draft pick of the Lakers and a player the franchise let walk without resigning him.
Besides the Lakers' advantage in the middle, they also have a player nicknamed the Black Mamba who could possibly pose a little problem for the Knicks.
Thankfully, the Knicks have Anthony, who may be just as dominating an offensive presence as Bryant, if not more these days, though Kobe would have the defensive advantage.
Stoudemire can also hold his own against Gasol offensively, so as long as the Knicks keep scoring, New York may have a puncher's chance in winning the series.
Is it possible? Can the New York Knicks win the 2011 NBA Championship?
How confident are you?
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Speaking of South Beach, "Heart, Guts and Glory: The Miami Heat Has None and Losing as a Result"
Looking at the Knicks' "Big Three," "Why Chauncey Billups, Not Carmelo Anthony, Is the New King of New York".
When comparing two of the Knicks' potential playoffs opponents, "Would You Trade the Lakers' Kobe for the Chicago Bulls' D-Rose?"
Just a few short weeks ago, "Did Kobe and the Los Angeles Lakers Hit Rock Bottom?"
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