Tag: Baron Davis

Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James

NBA Playoffs: Knicks compete early, but Heat roll late to take 3-0 series lead


The Heat took command of their first round playoff series with the Knicks, winning Game 3 in New York 87-70 to take a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Matt Moore and I discussed.

Matt Moore: Ugly, ugly, grotesque basketball Thursday and it looked like the Knicks could do the improbable without Amar’e Stoudemire, relying on Landry Fields and Mike Bibby. Don’t know how that plan failed.

LeBron just shut it down in the fourth. And for once, it was the other team! Just closed them out since he had so much energy. Wade’s third quarter, James’ fourth quarter, and maybe biggest, Mike Miller couldn’t hit, Shane Battier couldn’t hit, but Mario Chalmers could and did. If the Heat find one shooter a game to do that, they’re pretty much unstoppable. The Knicks did everything you can do and it still wasn’t nearly enough.

Brett Pollakoff: You always like to talk about whether or not a way a team wins (or is winning) is sustainable. Well, when the Knicks were leading in the second quarter by 11 at 40-29, what was the plan to get there? Let Miami start off the game up 9, then watch the Heat get bored and start jacking ill-advised three-pointers while you attack the paint to get easy looks, and finally, make sure the Heat go without a field goal for a stretch lasting almost 12 minutes?!

Yeah, definitely not sustainable.

Also, it didn’t hurt that LeBron played less than five minutes in the third due to foul trouble, which allowed him to play all of the fourth and score 17 (!) in the final period to finish things off.

So, two things: First, this was NOT a good game, and was nothing like the tough games in the 90s, right? Low-scoring and close does not equal interesting or exciting hard-nosed playoff basketball.

And second, how easily does the Heat win Game 4, having taken the (admittedly shorthanded and depleted) Knicks’ best shot?

MM: Horrible, awful game. The worst game I’ve seen since Game 7 of the 2010 Finals. Just terrible play, a lack of focus, bad shooting, needless fouls, a mishmash of movement. Sluggish and bad. I think it was like the 90’s, but only because I don’t overromanticize  bad basketball at any level.

I think the Knicks probably win Game 4. The Heat have no reason to let the Knicks win, should be able to coast, just have to not have a complete letdown. So naturally, they’ll let up. Also, two days in New York, with that crew of magazine-interview’in’, fashion-show-appearin’, mega-party-goin’ jokesters? No way the Heat come in fresh. Gentleman’s Sweep for the Heat. Let them win one, you know, to be polite. Melo is LeBron’s friend, after all.

How big was James though, in just choking the life out of New York down the stretch?

BP: I think the Heat got the excessive partying out of their system before this one, especially as evidenced by that first-half scoring drought. Besides, even if they hit the NYC club scene hard before Game 4, are the Knicks really able to do anything about it? Carmelo Anthony was 7-for-23, J.R. Smith was 5-for-18, and Steve Novak only attempted one three-pointer all night. As currently constructed, they simply don’t have the offensive weapons to hang with Miami for 48 minutes, and they certainly don’t have a point guard who can create easy, wide-open looks for the rest of the team.

(Seriously, Baron Davis is still out of breath after that and-1 drive in the first half, and might not recover until the offseason.)

LeBron coming out and scoring 11 straight Miami points to start the fourth was huge. Wade’s run in the third was equally important. A team like New York can’t stop these guys for an entire game, and the way the rest of the top teams in the conference are seeing players go down, Miami is going to have a much easier path to the Finals than expected.

Since the Knicks appear to be done, what do they need to improve upon before next season to actually win a game in the playoffs? In addition to not having their starting, $100 million power forward rip up his hand punching inanimate objects, of course.

MM: I’m not sure there’s much the Knicks can do. They’re flawed at their core. Melo and Amar’e doesn’t work. It was a bad plan conceptually from the start, and they’ve wed themselves to the player it’s harder to find a star to fit around. I’m sure James Dolan will spend some money trying though.

BP: I agree that Melo and Amar’e doesn’t work, but that doesn’t mean it can’t work. Sure, it would require a complete re-design of the offense from the top down, but the Knicks have a lot of money invested in those two, and I don’t see them being able to (or even wanting to) cut ties with either of them over the summer.

What’s clear, though, is that when the Knicks have everyone back healthy, they’ll need a creative, offensively-minded coach to make all of the pieces fit. Someone like Mike D’Antoni might be just the person to … Oh. Right.

Teams bounce back from playoff blowouts, but can Knicks?

New York Knicks v Miami Heat - Game One

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.

It is no longer ‘inconceivable’ that Jeremy Lin could play in the first round

New York Knicks' Lin pumps his fist from the bench as teammates score during their NBA basketball game in Toronto

The New York Times reports Saturday that Knicks guard Jeremy Lin began one-on-one drills before the Knicks’ demolition loss to the Heat in Game 1. Mike Woodson has repeatedly said that Lin is out for the entire first-round with swelling in his sore knee. From the New York Times:

The Knicks have not officially changed Lin’s prognosis, which called for a six-week recovery period and would probably cover the first round. But it is now conceivable that Lin will play in this series, depending on how long it goes.

The team will wait to see how Lin’s knee responds to Saturday’s workout before deciding whether to accelerate his return. He would still need time to regain his conditioning and stamina.

via Knicks’ Lin Is Back on the Court, Playing One on One – NYTimes.com.

Trying to rush Lin back is not the answer. Him miraculously saving the Knicks would make for a great ending to his terrific story this season, but hurting his knee further, impacting his career and costing him what he needs to be the best he can be is much worse. It’s hard to say that it would be worth it to get him back.

Say that he’s available for Game 4. If the Knicks are down 2-1, is it worth tying the series? What if they’re down 3-0 with blowouts? Or if they’re up 2-1? Trying to unwrap that riddle is very difficult, and the Knicks are going to have to think long and hard about it. For starters, Lin’s not going to help with their defense, which was porous on Saturday. But he would help the offense, which was anemic. With Iman Shumpert out, his minutes might be useful for nothing else but to give Baron Davis a rest.

It’s still a longshot that Lin will play. But it’s something to keep an eye on, and we will.

Heat 100 Knicks 67: Heat drown Knicks in their own tears

New York Knicks v Miami Heat - Game One

That got ugly fast, and then Iman Shumpert went down. So it was essentially the worst day for the Knicks. It could have been worse, but it would have taken some dark magic.

The Heat destroyed the Knicks 100-67, outscoring them 57-29 in the second and third quarters. It was total annihilation. After Tyson Chandler gave LeBron James a hard foul on the back (and LeBron flopped like his life depended on it), James ripped off a 9-0 run to end the second quarter. He hit an and-one after being slammed into on the pump fake, then sliced between two defenders and finished after contact. It was that kind of game for James. He gave the best and worst he can give, flopping to make everyone who hates him full of hatred, and playing like the best player in basketball.

Little example. LeBron and Mike Miller were on the floor together for 16 minutes Saturday. In that time, they had an offensive efficiency of over 150, and held the Knicks to an efficiency of 37.6 101 is considered good in that context. I’ve seen building demolished with less carnage.

The Knicks, on the other hand, drowned in a bucket of defense from Miami. Carmelo Anthony had 11 points on 3-15 shooting. James did that, too. Tyson Chandler was limited by foul trouble but also had trouble dealing with the Heat’s ball movement. The Heat created open looks, everything the Knicks did was contested. Miami rotated on the string. It was total and complete domination. The Knicks shot 36 percent. Their starters had a 45 percent eFG% which is downright miserable. They had 27 turnovers leading to 38 points off turnovers. They turned the ball over 23 percent of the time. More than two out of ten possessions, the just gave the Heat the ball.

So, no, the game did not go well for the Knicks.

What to improve on? Everything.

Ball movement, execution, shooting, passing, defense, rebounding, help defense, composure, aggressiveness. They need to smell better. They should call their mothers more. Basically, if there’s anything they can control, they need to do it.

This series likely won’t be like this throughout its time. But it’s also going to take a major turnaround from the Knicks. They need everything to change, and quickly. Otherwise the Garden won’t just be cheering the Knicks on in an 0-2 deficit, but a series in which no hope appears evident.

And Shumpert was injured.

NBA Playoff Preview: Miami Heat vs. New York Knicks

Knicks' Anthony and Heat's James embrace after their NBA basketball game in New York


Miami 46-20 (2 seed)
New York: 36-30 (7 seed)


Miami won the season series 3-0, though the Knicks did hang around for a while in those games. Horseshoes and hand grenades, and all that.


Miami: Mike Miller has an injured “everything you could ever possibly imagine” but is probable for Game 1. Dwyane Wade has dealt with myriad injuries, but again, is available. He most recently suffered a dislocated finger.

New York: Jeremy Lin is out with swelling in his knee for the entire first round.

OFFENSE/DEFENSE RANKINGS (points per 100 possession)

Miami: offense 106.6 (8th); defense 100.2 (4th)
New York: offense 104.4 (17th); defense 101 (5th)


LeBron James: Shocker. The most versatile, best, and most pressured player in the world is the most important. Stunning. James, because of who he has, pretty much has to average a triple-double, defend Carmelo Anthony in crunch time, and hit the game winning shot in a four-game sweep to satisfy people. Then they’ll claim he’s showing off.

Chris Bosh: Bosh has gotten a moderate amount of rest and so rust might be a factor. Bosh needs to stretch the floor to force the Knicks to put Tyson Chandler on him which will bring him away from the paint and open up things for the Heat to attack the rim.

Mike Miller: The Knicks can get hot and hit from deep. To counter that, Miller needs to hit some shots. He’s going to get great looks. He has to knock them down at a high rate.


Tyson Chandler:  Chandler helped the Mavericks shut down the Heat in last yea’s Finals with help defense. The Knicks need more of the same and for him to take a bigger chunk of the offense against Miami, attacking their weak spot at center. Without Chandler having a strong series, the Knicks won’t be able to hang with the onslaught.

J.R. Smith: Smith could honestly swing this series. If he can heat up and stay warm, the Heat defense can’t help on Carmelo Anthony or Amar’e Stoudemire. Do that, and the Heat’s scheme starts to unravel. Smith needs to play the Jason Terry role for the Mavs’ model to beat the Heat.

Steve Novak: Novak’s going to hit shots. But the bigger issue for him is not getting killed on defense. Udonis Haslem has had trouble with his offense at times this season. All Novak has to to do is avoid being a weakpoint the Heat can isolate. If Mike Woodson can afford to keep him on the floor, space opens up and again, that’s the key to hurting Miami’s defense.


You want superstars? You get superstars. LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Amar’e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler, J.R. Smith, Steve Nova… just kidding.

The key for New York is getting the Heat into their isolation sets where they struggle, and keeping them out of transition. Baron Davis has to keep the turnovers down, and the Knicks can’t afford stupid plays. Those lead to turnovers which is where the Heat want to play, up and down. New York needs to punish them inside when their defense stretches out to guard their shooters, and hurt them from the perimeter when the defense collapses. New York has the personnel to do it.

Doing it is a whole other matter.

Miami is just so talented and executes at such a high level. It wouldn’t shock me to see this series go seven, but for now, we’ll put faith in the Eastern Conference Champs to lock down a predictable Melo-centric offense.


Miami wins 4-2.