NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
EASTERN CONFERENCE QUARTER FINALS
#7 - NEW YORK KNICKS
# 2 - Miami Heat
The Land of Pink Flamingos
NEW YORK KNICKS: Dolan, Melo, and the Knicks City Players Taking Their Gig to South Beach.
When it comes to the Knicks and I, the narrative hasn't changed much. It's Melo's world. We just live in it. I'm not going to be a hypocrite and start extolling the wondrous exploits of Carmelo Anthony now. I have made it plainly clear in this blog, I'm not his biggest fan. But I'm willing to work through my skewed view of the forward for the sake of getting on with this.
I'll start this way - In a text message exchange with my cousin, he lamented over not being able to play Chicago in the first round and instead drawing Miami. And I said for what? Putting off the inevitable? I totally get why Knick fans share his sentiment. I'd otherwise be right there with you. But as of now, I feel there is no difference between losing in the first or second round, when I am already confident they will not make it to the Eastern Conference finals.
Can we get by the Heat? Perhaps. Can we get by the Bulls? Maybe. But in the Knicks present state, can they get through both? I doubt it very much. The Knicks played competitively against both teams in the regular season. There is definitely cause for optimism. I just do no think they will last a series, much less two, against the Conference's elite teams. And to be even more honest with you, elite is a very loosely used term.
At guard, I'd prefer if Coach Woodson didn't commit to either Bibby or Baron Davis. I believe an equal dose of both will work better and keep them fresher as the series wears on - because I do think this series can go six games. Miami owns only a slight advantage here. While it's still undetermined if Tyson Chandler plays tonight, ideally, he, Amare, and Melo will all be on the floor again. If the Knicks are to exorcise their disharmony from the point in Jeremy Lin's absence, Mike Bibby and Baron Davis need to figure out how to incorporate Amare and Chandler while still adhering to the mandates of playing in Melo's World.
But then, which Amare Stoudemire are we getting? Last season's weak-side-shot blocking, and dunking machine? Or will we be getting the guy who settles on perimeter shooting with no attempts to rebound? Of course everything hinges on the health status of Amare's back. No pain will be the Knicks' gain. Anything less, it will be the Melo System, or bust.
Tyson Chandler is no stranger to the Heat. They remember him well from last season's championship series. This year, he's been everything the Knicks wanted since they signed him, and more. He is the undisputed defensive leader of this team. No Tyson Chandler on the floor equals no strong will of the Knicks to play defense. He's the one guy on the Knicks that keeps Melo from utterly dominating the court. Like gravity does, Chandler exerts a force that keeps the Knicks and Melo's World somewhat in orbit together. And even though he was third-in after Amare and Melo's arrival, without Tyson Chandler, there are no playoffs. If his knee doesn't hold up, the Knicks are surely done.
That's a lot of Melo Bashing. I know. To paraphrase a previous post of mine:
Melo has been The Man over the last month due to a simple matter of attrition. The same problems the Knicks had before, will be revisited once Amare comes back, or, tries to come back, and will worsen should the Knicks still be playing by the time Jeremy Lin gets back. In the mean time, with everyone out of his way, including Mike D'Antoni, Melo is free to rule his world as he sees fit. Because outside of guys like Amare and Chandler, Melo's team mates know exactly where their bread is being buttered now.That's not to say Melo hasn't been doing everything he can to help his team win lately; to include playing defense. He has. He has been every bit the star he is advertised to be. He most definitely carried this team through April. But it took the elimination of a few players from the floor in order for the real Melo to take effect. It also took the elimination of a stubborn coach - stubborn only when it came to Melo that is. Carmelo is in full effect now and leading the Knicks - his way. And that's where I have a problem.
My hang-ups aside, that doesn't mean he, Iman Shumpert, and J.R. Smith haven't stumbled upon some cohesiveness and effective play together. Because they have. And if Shumpert and Smith play big, well then the Heat will definitely have a problem on their hands. Those two are the Knicks' x-factors.
I do no think anyone will be leaving Steve Novak all alone anymore. When he steps on the court, it is for one reason only. So when he does enter games, Miami will guard him. Landry Fields still has not returned any one's calls. Last seen, he was circling around the perimeter of a galactic black hole. His game has long since been torn apart at the seams.
That's just the way I see things.
Last point - Dwayne Wade and LeBron James can be dealt with. But do the Knicks have an answer for Chris Bosh? Maybe Tyson Chandler changes things in a seven game series. But Bosh, like Ray Allen in last year's playoffs against the Celtics, have been the real phantom menaces in the Knicks recent encounters with either team. Playing in the background for most of the game, both of them have been fourth quarter killers against the Knicks. I'd be paying him serious attention late in games this series.
Let's Go Knicks!