Last season the Knicks were 2-2 versus LeBrick James and the arch rival Miami Heat. Tonight, the Knicks will be without the services of their franchise player, small forward Carmelo Anthony. However, Miami will also be short handed as guard Dwayne Wade will not play.
Here’s what to watch for:
- With Melo out, the Knicks will need to find scoring from somebody not named Amar’e Stoudemire. Obviously, Carmelo Anthony and his 33% usage rate are a huge part of the Knick offense. Even though he has struggled as of late, Anthony leads the team over the past 4 games with 26 shot attempts per game. Without Melo tonight, the Knicks will need Iman Shumpert, Toney Douglas, Landry Fields, Bill Walker (sigh…) and Tyson Chandler to pick up the slack on offense. Douglas has been killing backboards with his 3 point shots as of late and needs to find his stroke tonight. I expect Walker to start in place of Melo but I expect him to struggle as always. Personal favorite Steve Novak should get some run tonight to boost the Knicks outside shooting in Melo’s absence.
- The Heat have M*other****ing Eddy Curry. Yes, that Eddy Curry. The center who ate up the Knicks salary cap for years while never being thin enough to get on the court. The same Eddy Curry who gave Knick fans great moments like this:
- Amare/Chandler vs LeBron/Bosh. Unfortunately for the Knicks, Melo has dominated LeBron whenever they’ve played but obviously Melo won’t be out there tonight. Ditto goes for Wade against the Knicks. This leaves, in a nutshell, a battle of Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler versus LeBron James and Chris Bosh. I think tonight is a chance for Amar’e to break out of his shell. I do not think Bosh can body him up if Amar’e gets his mind set on dominating at the rim. If Amar’e settles for jump shots tonight, I think the Knicks will be in for a long night. I do think the Knicks can guard LeBron James tonight. As seen in the finals last season, Tyson Chandler was a Heat killer. The Heat, mostly the big 3, love to use their athleticism to get to the rim and throw alley-oops to each other. With Chandler in the middle, and his giant 7’1 frame, the Knicks should be pretty well suited to defend that style of offense. I think if Chandler can stay out of foul trouble tonight, his presence will give the Heat problems offensive tonight.
- Stop the transition. In order to win tonight, the Knicks will have to stop Miami in transition. If they give Miami 25-30 transition points tonight they have no chance to win. They cannot allow LeBron to get started in fast break situations or they’ll let him score 40 tonight. Miami ranks 5th in the NBA in fast break points per game with 17.4 per game. I believe this will have to be a grind it out kind of game in order for the Knicks to win tonight.
- Can Landry Fields keep up his hot scoring? Fields has hit double digit points per game over his last 5 games and will need to keep that up tonight. Without Melo, Fields’ scoring will be even more important to the Knicks success. Shane Battier will likely start for Wade. Battier is a strong defensive player but I look for Fields to take advantage of Mike Miller when he is brought off the bench. I think Fields could put in 15-20 points today and really truly contribute.
- If it comes down to the wire, I like New York’s chance given the un-clutchness of LeBrick James. Knick fans are familiar with this as James choked twice last season in his only game against the Post-Melo trade Knicks. In case you don’t remember…