The theory going into this series was that the Knicks would win a game or two simply because Carmelo Anthony and maybe J.R. Smith or Steve Novak would just get hot.
But the Heat’s defense this series has doused any spark before it could catch fire. The result is the Heat have cruised to a 3-0 series lead and look likely to close it out in a sweep at Madison Square Garden Sunday.
The Knicks are suffering plenty of indignities — they now have lost an NBA record 13 straight playoff games. Three losses to the Heat, all by double digits. And it hasn’t been that close. Knicks fans are making Amare Stoudemire the scapegoat for a playoff collapse but the Knicks problems are in a roster built of names and stars with little thought to chemistry and fit.
The Heat had some of those problems last year, but they have overcome them. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have figured out how to compliment each other, Erik Spoelstra came up with a system that fits what the Heat want to do.
New York has no idea how to make Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony work together. Mike D’Antoni couldn’t do get them to do it; Mike Woodson has made this ‘Melo’s team and left Stoudemire on the periphery. It may be moot today as Stoudemire is a game-time decision due to the left hand he smashed into a fire extinguisher case in frustration…
Actually, it’s moot either way.
The only question left in this series is if Sunday can be the Knicks can have that one insanely hot shooting day. Probably not, the Heat have proven they can take ‘Melo out of his comfort zone.
Then New York can start to focus on how to make this thing actually work.
Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.
Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.
In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.