Tonight, the Knicks try to keep their season alive down in South Beach. Headed into this pivotal game 5, the already short-handed Knicks will be even more short-handed. Thanks to an almost comical (yet incredibly depressing) set of events, the Knicks will be down to their 4th and 5th string point guards tonight. Jeremy Lin’s knee is still not ready to play on, Baron Davis shredded his knee in game 4 and Iman Shumpert blew out his knee in game 1. New York will rely on the crypt-keeper, Mike Bibby, to run the point tonight. Welp… we’ll also see Toney Douglas get some run tonight. Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire led the Knicks to victory in game 4, scoring 61 of New York’s 89 points, and they’ll have to do it again tonight. I think they can do it and I feel surprisingly optimistic about the game tonight.
Here’s what to watch for:
- Obviously, the glaring issue for the Knicks is the depth, or lack of, at the point guard position. With Davis, Shumpert and Lin sidelined, the Knicks are going to need Mike Bibby and Toney Douglas to lead the way tonight. Obviously they’re not going to be taking a lot of shots, but their effectiveness will impact the game tonight. Bibby must continue to do what he’s done over the past few games. He has to not turn the ball over, while delivering crisp entry passes and hitting open shots. Toney Douglas must remember the principles of basketball. He must realize that he does not always need to shoot off a pick and roll. When players are open, Douglas must remember that he can throw it to them. Rather than chuck fastballs into LeBron’s chest, Douglas has to find some open Knicks to pass to. When Douglas shoots, he must remember that the backboard is not your friend. He seems to have fallen in love with the 27 foot brick off the backboard, which has to stop. In all seriousness, Douglas will play some big minutes tonight. If he can play within the offense and hit a shot or two, he’ll be effective. If he continues to play like the Toney Douglas that failed this season, worse than me on my Math Final, then the Knicks will be in trouble.
- The Knicks need to get Stoudemire more touches tonight. He was 8/13 in game 4, scored 20 points and grabbed 10 boards. For the series, Stoudemire is shooting 55%. I understand that its a small sample size, but the fact is that Stoudemire has played well offensively when he’s gotten touches. He needs to get 15-18 shots tonight. With the Knicks being shorthanded, their already questionable offense has become more questionable. They paid Stoudemire a max contract, they may as well use him. Anthony is going to get his touches and his shots, but I think it is imperative for the Knicks to work to get Stoudemire his shots and touches.
- Will SuperMelo show up tonight? Carmelo Anthony has had two good games in this series and two very poor games. Obviously, the Knicks’ chances of success increase greatly when Anthony doesn’t shoot ice cold from the field. Anthony is going to get his touches and shots tonight. I’m worried about how he’ll get his touches. The Knicks must work to get Anthony what I call “good-iso’s”. Rather than throw it at him with 5 seconds left on the shot clock out past the three point line, the Knicks have to make sure Anthony gets good looks. They’ve got to get him the ball in his spots. He’s got to get opportunities in the high post, low post and in his mid-range spots. Also, if the Knicks can also work, through off ball screens and rubs, to get Anthony guarded by Shane Battier, they’re going to be in good shape. Anthony has been far better when Battier has guarded him than when LeBron James has. When matched up against James, Anthony seems unwilling to drive to the hoop and get to the line. He settles for too many jump shots and it throws his whole offensive game out of rhythm. Against Battier, he has been far more aggressive and has dominated.
- Tyson Chandler also has to dominate. Hell, at this rate everyone has to dominate! Just kidding. Obviously Melo and Amar’e must carry the team offensively, but Chandler has to be equally as dominant on defense. He has been far from dominant this series, but his flu sickness is largely responsible for that. Chandler should be up to full strength and the Knicks need him back at full strength. Even in New York’s game 4 victory, Chandler did not have a great game. I thought often times he was caught out of position and he didn’t make his usual 3-4 impact defensive plays. Credit Miami’s offense, but Chandler did not play a great game. I think if he can hold down the paint, the Knicks will have a real good shot at winning.
- I also want to see a Jorts smash tonight. The young farmhand has had a quality series thus far and I’d like to see him put someone on a poster. Go Jorts go!