Knicks Lose To Heat In Potential Playoff Matchup

Published on: 15th April, 2012

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LeBron and Anthony
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New York – In what was billed as a statement game between the Knicks and the Miami Heat today, potentially first round opponents in the upcoming NBA playoffs, the resounding statement at the conclusion of the contest  might as well have been Miami telling the Knicks, “Not yet, little fella.”

The Heat won the game, 93-85 and even though the score wasn’t lopsided, you got the feeling, from Miami’s viewpoint, there wasn’t a chance in this world the Knicks could win this game. It was one of those let the Knicks make a run, feel confident about themselves until the score got to a certain point, and then, use the defensive and offensive hammers we know we possess to put down these upstarts from New York.

And, that’s exactly what happened.

This was also a game of important matchups that allowed the players, coaches, and fans of these teams to do a little projecting about what could very well occur if Miami and New York happen to get together for a seven-game basketball hootenanny in a couple of weeks.

We watched how Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James, two superstars who have been tracking each other’s careers since they both entered the NBA, guarded each other frequently throughout the game but particularly so in the last quarter, with the game on the line.

We watched also, how Iman Shumpert, the Knicks rookie who has also become their best perimeter defender, wreaked havoc against the Heat guards but also learned a little about the greatness of Dwyane Wade, today.

We watched how Knicks coach, Mike Woodson matched up with Heat coach, Eric Spoelstra and wondered how either coach will tweak their game plans if these two should meet again.

It was also a case of one team having three times the superstar power that the other team did. Miami’s Big Three of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh combined for 73 of the Heat’s total 93 points while the Knicks sole player with a superstar pedigree, Carmelo Anthony, could muster “only” 42 points, nine rebounds, and five assists as he tried to carry his Knicks on his broad shoulders without having a sidekick or two to lean on, especially in crunch time.

Anthony was heroic throughout, scoring 22 in the first half and 20 more in the second but if the Knicks have learned anything from playing shorthanded, due to the injuries to Amar’e Stoudemire, Jared Jeffries, and Jeremy Lin, they cannot beat the good teams when the good teams decide to turn it on. There just aren’t enough horses on this depleted Knicks roster to keep up with the teams who have several scoring options, particularly at the end of games.

Anthony shot 12 for 20 through the first three quarters today, but just 2 of 7 in the fourth and final quarter, when the Knicks really were in need of his “A” game. What made today’s matchup particularly interesting was the pairing of Anthony and James, on both sides of the court. Although Anthony outscored James (29 points) by 13, it was James who defended Anthony well in those final minutes.

“I mean, guys like Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant and Kobe (Bryant), they’re going to make shots,” said James. “They’re flat out scorers. Hopefully, down the stretch, you try to continue to wear on them and hopefully they start to miss a few. That’s what I was able to do, tonight. I was just trying to be aggressive on Carmelo. He was aggressive from the tip as we all have seen. And, a few of them didn’t go down for him at the end of the game.”

James, not exactly known for his staunch defense, held Anthony scoreless over the last 7:03 of the game. To Anthony, those last minutes of the game seemed like a blur.

“I don’t even know what happened, it just happened so fast,” he said. “They made some tough shots down the stretch over the last six minutes of the game. We couldn’t make shots. We had some good looks but we just didn’t make them. As far as effort, it was there. We played extremely hard. There is no need, as a team, to put our heads down. We played hard, we played tough.

But, again, as Anthony discovered many times as a member of the Denver Nuggets, one on five is not a good way to win ballgames, even when the one scores 42 points.

“I had to score today,” he said. “I had to be aggressive and keep attacking. I wanted to keep some pressure on them. They are one of the better teams in the NBA on defense and focusing on that ball.”

If the Knicks go into the playoffs either against these Heat or the Chicago Bulls (who have clinched the number one seed in the Eastern Conference), they will need a lot more than just Anthony as option 1 and option 2 to have any chance of success. Stoudemire is said to be making good progress towards his return to the lineup, potentially giving the Knicks an important offensive option as well as tall, long big man who can match up with the likes of Bosh, when the games get even more intense later this month.

Anthony, who didn’t meet with the assembled media till almost an hour after the game ended, had the last word.

“We have shown the identity of our team,” he said. “This is how we play and how we are going to play from now and into the postseason.”

Heat coach, Spoelstra had an interesting post-game observation about the way to play Anthony, strategically.

“He’s a tough cover,” Spoelstra said. “We put him to the foul line too often in the first half and we didn’t want to overreact to his ability to get off those pull-up jump shots. He was able to get to the rim, get to the free throw line, and the basket looked like an ocean to him.”

“In the second half, we were able to stay the course a little more,” Spoelstra continued. “He still has that ability to make those same pull-up jumpers, but at least we gave him less opportunities at the line and at the rim.”

Your move, Mr. Woodson.

The question remains, Is the Carmelo Anthony and the Four Anonymous Knicks identity going to have a chance to defeat teams like the Miami Heat or Chicago Bulls in Round 1 of the post-season? If today is any indication, it will be a resounding no.

 

 

 

 

 

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