New York Sports Nut—
This is what most of you wanted.Â This is the star-studded match-up everyone wanted to see.Â The New York Knicks are taking their talents to South Beach to do battle with the Miami Heat.Â This is without question the sexiest series of the first round.Â You want star power; we got your star power.Â LeBron, Wade, Bosh, Amare, Melo, Tyson Chandler, yea, they will all be in attendance.Â But the question is not who is going to just attend, the question is, who is really going to show up?
I believe the Knicks have a very good chance to win this series.Â It will not be easy, and they must have a lot of things go their way, but it is possible.Â I believe the following things will happen, and when they do, I see the Knicks winning the series in seven games.
There are so many things that will be important in this series.Â Itâ€™s hard to say which is more important than the next, when actually, they are equally important.Â If the Knicks fail at more than one of these, it will be hard, if not impossible to win four out of seven games.
They must take care of the ball.Â Miami lives off other teams mistakes.Â We all saw how they completely took Jeremy Lin out of the game, and got into his head.Â They blitz the pick and roll like no other team in the league.Â The Knicks must get into their sets smoothly and work the ball to the open man or it will be off to the races.Â Baron Davis must take care of the ball and make the smart basketball play.Â There is no room for him to try to make the highlight reel or ESPNâ€™s top 10 plays.Â J.R. Smith must also do the same, especially for the games played in Miami.
Fast break defense
The Knicks cannot, I repeat, CANNOT turn the ball over and let the Heat get in the open floor.Â There is no better team on the break than the Heat.Â Their best players can finish at the rim and are excellent passers as well.Â The Knicks simply cannot let the game get into an up and down game, but if they can get a few baskets off turnovers, that would be a plus.
Landry Fields shooting
Landry Fields must hit his wide open shots when on the floor.Â The first three games between the two teams saw the Heat daring Landry Fields to shoot the ball.Â And it was a great game plan.Â Fields shot 33% from beyond the arc, but an abysmal 35% from inside it.Â When he is open, he simply needs to knock down the shots that are there.Â To his credit though, he has been playing better all-around since being put on the bench by Coach Woodson.
Stay out of foul trouble
The Heat have two of the best players in NBA history.Â Despite James faults and recent failures in the post season, he remains the best player in the NBA today.Â We know the type of player Dwayne Wade becomes in the playoffs.Â He had what might have been the best NBA Finals performances in history in 2006 when the Heat won the Larry Oâ€™Brien Trophy.Â But for the Knicks to win, they must be able to defend them one on one as much as possible, especially in the case of James.Â He is just too good of a passer and can pick apart even the best defense in the league (the Knicks ranked 5thÂ in defensive rating (allowing 101 points per 100 possessions).Â Carmelo Anthony must do his best to make LeBron a jump shooter and not allow him to get to the basket and to the charity stripe.Â Iman Shumpert must take on the challenge to guard fellow Chicagoan Wade.Â Iman has been the best on ball defender in the league this year.Â Yes, I said it, the best.Â The amount of pressure he puts on a ball handler is second to none.Â He must be careful though, Wade is a cagey veteran who knows how to get the men in stripes to blow the whistle.Â Iman must play with a controlled frenzy.
Novakane and J.R. Smith
Here are the wild cards.Â I feel they must score a combined 30 points a night to win the series.Â Anyway you would like to break it up, they have to score.Â The Heat will not make it easy, especially for Novak.Â They are a great defensive team, and will leave anyone open besides him.Â J.R. Smith must play within himself. Â He cannot turn the ball over foolishly.Â But he has absolutely impressed me, even when he is not shooting well.Â He is not scared to keep shooting and his defense and rebounding is something no one was counting on.
I can see Woodson putting Tyson Chandler on Bosh, and allowing Amare to guard the likes of Ronnie Turiaf and Haslem.Â No one will ever mistake Amare for Bill Russell.Â But he doesnâ€™t need to be.Â Amare must handle the defensive glass and not give up second chance points.Â You cannot give a team this star laden more opportunities to score.Â And he cannot be an open door to the rim.Â He has to stay in front of his man.
Amare can really help this team by hitting his mid-range jump shot.Â It will keep the defense honest and make it harder to double team Carmelo.Â If last nightâ€™s game was any indication, his back is not a problem anymore.Â He must be the player who is explosive and plays with fire and above the rim.Â But his defense would seem to be more important than his offense with this team when heâ€™s on the floor.Â He has to take pride in it.Â He has been very vocal about taking the challenge of being a better defender since last season.Â There is no better time than now to lead by example.