Knicks-Heat Game 3: What to Watch For

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The Knicks have lost 12 straight playoff games. They have not won a playoff game since the 2000-2001 season. They have not won a playoff series since their improbable run in 1999, led by Ewing, Houston and Spreewell. New York’s long standing drought of playoff success has taken form into a metaphorical Berlin Wall for not only the Knicks, but their fans. With every disappointing loss after disappointing loss, the wall only gets bigger. We know the Knicks aren’t going to win this series, but can we at least get a playoff win out of these Knicks? Will a single playoff win tear down the metaphorical Berlin Wall of playoff failure? Absolutely not. But a win tonight would instill a bit of sanity back into the fan base as well as the team itself. It is one thing for the Knicks to lose playoff series. They weren’t better than Boston last year (although they got jobbed in game 1) and they’re not better than Miami this year. But to get swept in both series is just damn embarrassing. Even the Dwight Howard-less Magic and the mediocre Philadelphia Sixers have found ways to get playoff wins so far this year. It is the Knicks turn. The past is the past. They’ve got to start taking serious hacks at this gigantic wall of failure, and that starts tonight at 7 PM at Madison Square Garden.

Here’s what to watch for:

  • Carmelo Anthony must be efficient tonight. We know he can score 30 points tonight, but the question is can he do it efficiently? It does the Knicks no good for Anthony to score 30 points on 26 shots, as he did in game 2. Anthony must score about 35-40 points in games where he takes 26 shots. Tonight, he cannot start playing “Melo-ball”. Anthony must work to get others involved. He has had only 4 assists in the opening two games of this series, both Knick losses. Having said that, the Knicks also must work to get open and get involved in the offense, but Anthony still must look to distribute more. The Knicks need the Carmelo Anthony that recorded a triple double late in the season against Boston. They need a 35-12-10 performance from him tonight. With Amar’e Stoudemire out with a severed hand, Anthony must carry the offense in all aspects. He has to be a dominant, efficient scorer as well as a solid distributor tonight. If he makes it an iso-Melo game, the Knicks will lose. Badly.
  • Mike Woodson cannot fall in love with iso-Melo. Now more than ever, the Knicks have to find a way to manufacture baskets. They need offensive contributions from every body tonight. Novak must get in on the action, JR Smith must play with some discipline and Landry Fields cannot be stuck in Charles Barkley-Space Jam mode tonight. New York must work some motion into the offense. They need to find a way to use back cuts and screens to open up spot up shots for Novak and Smith. They need to find a way to get Fields cutting to the basket. Carmelo Anthony needs to get the ball deep into the post. I’d like to see some screen and roll action between the point guards and Chandler. The Knicks have tried iso-ball in the first two games and it has failed. It’s time for some motion in Mike Woodson’s offense. Lets see if we get that tonight.
  • The Knicks have to crash the boards hard tonight. Some people believe the Knicks have an advantage playing small ball against Miami. I have no idea why. I think the Knicks are totally at a disadvantage playing small. Tyson Chandler is going to be forced to guard Chris Bosh. Given Bosh’s ability to consistently knock down mid-range jump shots, he will draw Chandler out of the paint. Without Amar’e Stoudemire, and yes I know he’s a mediocre rebounder too, the Knicks have very little rebounding behind Chandler. I know Anthony is a solid rebounder, but he’s not going to be in the paint often if he’s on the perimeter guarding James. I have to think that Steve Novak will be playing significant minutes in this game. Without Iman Shumpert, I’m assuming that Landry Fields/JR Smith will be guarding Wade, which will leave Novak assigned to Joel Anthony or Udonis Haslem. Both guys can hurt you on the boards, so Novak really has to do a good job of keeping them off the glass. Jared Jeffries’ knee still isn’t close to 60% so expect to see some Jorts and maybe hot wife guy as well.
  • New York has to hit some 3′s tonight. Often times, the Knicks live and die by the 3 point ball. This series, they’ve died by it. They’ve hit just 12/36 from downtown in this series, a cool 33%. That isn’t going to cut it against the Heat. Miami’s defense is so aggressive that the Knicks have had opportunities to hit open 3′s, they just haven’t done it. If they’re going to win their first playoff game since 1973 2001, they have to get hot from downtown.
  • As shown above, thanks to Hoopdata.com, the Knicks missed 11 shots at the rim in game 2. That cannot happen tonight. I know the officiating has been more than questionable, but there cannot be any excuses made. When the Knicks get to the rim, they have to finish. No questions asked.

  • Need I say more?
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