NBA playoff history is filled with teams who got blown out one game who bounced back the next game and won. Games and series can take dramatic swings.
But after watching Game 1, when the Heat rolled the Knicks behind a big game from LeBron James, you have to wonder if the Knicks can do it.
Maybe, but they need a lot of things to go right. Which is kind of the story of this series.
Health is at the forefront. Tyson Chandler will start for the Knicks after being slowed in Game 1 due to the flu, and New York needs him to be dominant inside. The Knicks also will start Baron Davis, who had a nice first half last game until his back tightened up and he sat the rest of the way.
Landry Fields will start at the two guard spot for the injured Iman Shumpert, who suffered an ACL knee injury in Game 1. J.R. Smith will get more minutes but he will still come off the bench.
The Knicks also need to get their offense firing.
What Miami did best in Game 1 was take Carmelo Anthony out of his comfort zones catching the ball — the result was he had just 11 points on 3-of-15 shooting — and that threw the entire isolation-heavy Knicks offense off rhythm. The Heat fronted him in the post and did not let him get the ball in the spots he likes it. The Heat will bring more and different looks at Anthony in Game 2, which means plenty of LeBron James and doubles, looking to do the same thing.
New York needs to get ‘Melo in a groove, taking steps to get him in isolations where he can succeed. That starts with counters when the post is fronted.
Ball movement and other guys are the key here for the Knicks — if the double is coming to Carmelo then someone else has to be open. New York must rotate the ball to the weak side then knock down the shots. Other guys — particularly guys with range like J.R. Smith and Steve Novak have to step up.
The Knicks also need more out of Amare Stoudemire.
But to make him work means one of the Knicks point guards has to step up. That would be Davis, because you can’t really expect Mike Bibby to do that.
Finally, the Knicks need to contain LeBron and Dwyane Wade — no, Wade was not a force in Game 1 but he had Shumpert on him, the Knicks best perimeter defender. Look for the Heat to attack with him more.
That’s a lot of things that need to go better for the Knicks, which is kind of the story of this series — the Knicks have a very small margin for error, the Heat have pretty big one. Still, I expect Game 2 will be closer than Game 1, and that ‘Melo will have a better outing. The Knicks had better hope so.