Chasing Down The Latest NBA News
#2 Miami Heat (46-20): 93.2 possessions per game, 104.7 points per 100 possessions, 96.9 points allowed per 100 possessions
#7 New York Knicks (36-30): 95.9 possessions per game, 101.3 points per 100 possessions, 98.6 points allowed per 100 possessions
Team Match-up To Watch For: Miami’s spot-up defense
Miami’s defensive rap sheet on Synergy is filled with “excellent” but the area in which they struggle with – spot-up shooting – happens to be where the Knicks can hurt them the most. Steve Novak is the best spot-up shooter in basketball and J.R. Smith has the potential to light it up from deep every time he steps onto the floor. If the Heat don’t make it a priority to get out the perimeter and close out strong on the Knicks three-point shooters, they could be in for a shocking first round exit.
Individual Match-up To Watch For: LeBron James vs Carmelo Anthony
It can’t be argued that this series is not all about Carmelo sticking it to LeBron. We know he is going to go for 40 in every game and, based on his performance against Boston last year, we may see it happen. Of course, Carmelo will be guarded by James and there isn’t a single better defender in the league when he’s locked in. If there’s ever a time for him to do that, now would be it. Of course, we saw James, and Dwyane Wade, take their shot at Melo in a regular season game earlier this month and he still torched them. When he’s got his mid-range jumper going he’s impossible to stop nobody who is in front of him, which is why this battle has the potential to be an all-time great. When was the last time we saw a one-on-one match-up like this in the Eastern Conference playoffs? Does Pierce vs LeBron count? Either way, this should be great, and we’ll see if James has a different mindset this post-season by how he responds to Carmelo scoring on him. Hopefully he’ll go right back at him instead of deferring.
This series is too good to just list one match-up. How about Iman Shumpert on Dwyane Wade? This will be fascinating to watch. I’m sure you remember Shumpert ripping Wade on back-to-back plays earlier this month, which was the first time I’ve ever seen that happen to the sure handed Wade. The Heat might actually need LeBron to be the Cleveland version of himself if Shumpert can lockdown Wade. And for a third match-up to watch for, how about Tyson Chandler for Wade and James? He’s beaten them in the post-season before and he’s been even better this season. And a fourth? Amare Stoudemire vs Chris Bosh in a battle for the “best power forward addition in the 2011 off-season” crown.
And a fifth, just for fun? The late arriving Miami crowd vs the Garden, which absolutely loathes LeBron James. This is the biggest mismatch in the series. Wouldn’t surprise me if that building won the Knicks a game by fueling a big run or getting to LeBron while he’s at the line late in a game.
What Will Decide This Series: The LeBron/Carmelo battle
I honestly believe that if Carmelo can put together four big games against LeBron, the Knicks will win this series. If LeBron can hold Carmelo down in a game or two or outperform him on the offensive end then Miami should get the victory.
Prediction: I’ll stick to my guns. Before the season I said that the Knicks would take out the Heat in the second round and I’m going with New York to take them out in the first round now. Knicks in 7