That’s the reply I received after texting my friend today. “Knicks?” is all I said. The two word reply was what I got in return, which was unfortunate because I needed a ride home from the train station.
The Knicks are in trouble. All fire extinguisher punching aside, the Knicks’ problems are more than glass-sliced skin deep. Melo entered the playoffs as the hottest scorer in the NBA, Tyson Chandler might have stolen defensive player of the year with his game in the last month of the season, Shumpert and the supporting cast were playing inspired ball, and Jeremy Lin was seemingly unnecessary.
Looks can be deceiving.
The Knicks were doomed from the beginning of this series. Before I begin, I am in no way condoning the controlled bombing that Philly made us all stomach when they realized they couldn’t finish higher than seventh. Although, with the greatest facepalm of all time in Derrick Rose’s exploded knee, the 76ers might have found a way into the second round (but probably not). The Heat on the other hand have looked like a bear that has come out of hibernation hungry for blood. Bears eat blood right? This is nothing new, the Heat are the most intimidating playoff team since Iceland in Mighty Ducks 2 (“THE GOALIEEE!”).
LeBron always plays his most inspired ball for the first two rounds of the playoffs and secures his MVP trophy. D-Wade is a legitimate assassin in the playoffs, causing fits for defenders with relentless penetration (that’s what she said); and Bosh will exist as well. SIDE NOTE: After two “playoff runs,” in Toronto, I know what a Boshtrich means in the playoffs: everyone goes home sad and saying, “I guess he played hard...But, like, that was shitty...” HE’S A REAL C U NEXT TUESDAY. Has anyone else noticed how sad, and out of the loop he looks lately? His sadness pleases me in the creepiest ways possible.
How does any of the pertain to New York? It all pertains to New York you fucking idiot, they’re in a playoff series. I’m sorry, that was rude.
NYC was out-sucked to the 8th spot and are now down 2-0 to the Heat. I don’t understand the popular opinion that was the Heat were in shambles and actually a decent matchup. They never were. The Heat play for three things: 1st place (couldn’t, so they relaxed a tad), playoffs, and the finals. I can’t say championships because they looked like a JV team games 5-6 against Dallas. HOWEVER, the playoffs have been their focus since Chicago proved to be relentless in their pursuit for first place. This means that the Knicks walked into legitimately, the most dangerous team this year. Melo can score 45 and Tyson can defend the rack all night, but LeBron is going to out-EVERYTHING you by just playing like an absolute monster, Wade is going to be the classic pest with the potential to go off, and, when their supporting cast (LOOKING AT YOU MIKE MILLER) is nailing threes: FORGETABOUTIT.
My friend Matt reiterated his previous statement. Verbatim:
"they don't have a answer for Miami, their 2 lines are way better than knicks, if they focus to much on lebron he kicks it out to chalmers for 3 or jones for 3, wade is ready to win, lebron is 2nd to wade and still scored 25 plus. The only weak link I see is bosh."
Couldn't have said it better. Well, grammatically I could have. Also, WE ALL SEE YOU BOSH YOU DUMB IDIOT, YOU LOOK LIKE AN OSTRICH.
But, we all could have seen this coming.
The Heat have absolutely THRASHED NYC this season, with nearly a 20+/- differential in points. The Knicks were averaging -10 in points scored and +10 in points given up against Miami this season. You have to believe, at least the scoring numbers, would be elevated in playoff time. This is fucking science people. ACTUAL STATISTICS BEHIND MY LOGIC! IMAGINE THAT.
The second reason the Knicks were doomed is this: Amar’e Stoudemire hasn’t been the same player since Carmelo arrived in New York. I remember last October putting a sizable amount of money down on Amar’e to win MVP (I know I threw it away, shut up). Through the first two months of last season Amar’e was averaging close to 30 points and rebounding the Knicks into a half-decent team. Then Melo arrived and two things happened. One, Amar’e took a minute to relax because the pressure was no longer squarely on his shoulders, and he collapsed. He had been working himself to death and just didn’t realize it. A player with no knee ligaments left and that age tells me that those couple months were Amar’e's last hurrah. It was porrly timed. If Amar’e coasted in NYC the first part of last season (most likely making him the most criticized member of the Knicks franchise since Isiah Thomas' coaching stint) and made his push with Carmelo, healthy in April, we would still be talking about the East Finals from 2011.
BUT, this brings me to my second point: The dynamic was always off. Melo is a great possession scorer who needs the ball in his hands. NYC took the scorer over the passer and sacrificed Amar’e’s go-to, the pick-and-roll. The man literally made a living off of rolling with Nash and crushing the ball home. His supplemental game is a possession mid-range jump shooter which he has to rely on with most possessions in New York going to Melo, and no point guard to have a 2-man game with. He doesn’t have the speed and decisiveness to consistently get to the rim from an iso anymore and it has been especially apparent since Carmelo arrived.
The other point of concern that we could have foreseen is that Melo can’t multi-task. AT ALL. When he needs to defend, he can’t score. When he needs to score, he can’t defend. In games where Carmelo has to defend a 3 that is a scoring threat his FG% plummets. In games this season where Melo has scored well (.400+), he has an average defensive rating well over 110 points allowed per 100 possessions. When he shoots over 50%, he allows even more points per possession. You have to believe defending LeBron in the playoffs will inflate these numbers. So, when the Knicks need Melo for a herculean effort he’ll knock down 40 - but be a turnstile on the other end.
When Melo isn't scoring, the Knicks don’t have the secondary scoring that Lin provided during his dramatic run this season. Chandler can’t play without proper screen and go plays and a 2-man game (much like old man Amar’e), Shumpert is hurtert and was never really a threat on the offensive end, and when it really comes down to it the Knicks supporting cast is actually pretty terrible. With the exception of Landry Fields and Baron Davis (who have been wildly inconsistent) there is no one to turn to alleviate pressure from Melo offensively or defensively. There’s no Shane Battier, Reggie Evans, or Tony Allen to lock players down when it counts. Iman Shumpert was their best perimeter defender by far and we all know how that ended...
As far as I can see, there’s no way the Knicks aren’t going to be swept up like a shattered dream (WHAT A SIMILE! I’M A LITERARY MONSTER). If I work for that organization I’m sending Jeremy Lin on the next flight to Germany where they can apparently repair any ailment; I can only assume with some kind of dark magic. His presence and what he did for Amar’e and Chandler was completely understated because people focused on his scoring and assist numbers. His ability to draw attention away from the fact that Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony were on the floor - basically eliminating any deny-the-ball defense was instrumental in their mid-season success.
Lin is still a series off though. A series the Knicks will never see unfortunately. Amar’e fucked his hand up in one of the dumbest moves EVER, Baron Davis will continue to jack up threes and not dish to the roller off of screens, Shumpert will continue to have a blown out knee, and the bench will contribute nothing. Now, down 2-0 I can't see a way this team escapes the Heat. Sorry Melo, not this year. My friend, Drunk GM would probably say: Deal Amar’e for a defensive lock-down SF/SG like Matt Barnes, a low-post scorer, and run with Lin and Anthony until the cows come home.
Fuck, is it too late to get get in a time machine and NOT trade Chauncy Billups? Yes because time travel doesn’t exist.
My real concern is who is going to stop the Heat now. Because, you know, them winning would be shitty. Damn you, Tom Thibodeau.