COMMENTARY | With a disappointing 100-67 rout by the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the NBA Playoffs, and the heartbreaking loss of talented defender Iman Shumpert, the New York Knicks face great challenges in trying to win this series. Unfortunately, due to the ailments of Tyson Chandler, Jared Jeffries, Baron Davis, and Jeremy Lin, key players on this 2012 Knicks team, facing those challenges will not be made any easier. With improved offensive schemes and defensive furor, the Knicks may just have the chance it needs to win.
First and foremost, the Knicks have to increase their energy on the court, while keeping a steady composure. The Heat showed an excellent display in the balance of intensity and control, as they fought hard for rebounds and steals while laying in elegant basket after basket. The Knicks seemed to respond with a feverish outbreak, forcing shots and committing poor, unnecessary turnovers. They often tried too hard to rely on the offensive skills of their star, Carmelo Anthony, and less so on intelligent, diversionary team tactics. The clever Heat defense quickly recognized this very early on and adjusted their defense, making getting the ball to Anthony much more difficult. A large number of turnovers came simply from the Knicks trying too hard to give the obvious pass to Anthony for an isolation play.
The Knicks’ inability to change from this failing offensive scheme led to the ultimate breakdown of the team. The Knicks should focus more on screening their many, many excellent shooters. Playing pick and pop plays on the 3 point line with J.R. Smith, Landry Fields, Baron Davis, Mike Bibby, Josh Harrellson, and especially Steve Novak, the man with the highest 3 point shooting percentage in the entire NBA this season. This would keep the Heat defenders out of the paint, opening it up to allow Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire to execute their style of play with more ease, as well as the added benefit of a few points on the board with some knocked-down threes. The key in a steady offensive productivity is in switching offensive sets as often as possible and keeping the Miami Heat defense on their toes.
The defensive challenges for the Knicks in this series have become monumental as well. With the loss of the defense-talented Shumpert, a steady defensive output from Landry Fields and J.R. Smith is now an absolute necessity. Stoudemire has to learn to defend with more vigor and intensity, something he is more than capable of, but often seems to lack on the floor. It was a grueling sight to see players scoring on Stoudemire as he focused more on getting a block than keeping the opposing player away from the rim. Tyson Chandler, the epitome of great defense on this Knicks team, has to do what it takes to get himself on the court and ready to play. Without his large inside presence, and a seemingly diminished reaction time when he was on the floor due to the flu, the Heat, and especially Lebron James, scored with unopposed ease. While Carmelo Anthony, Baron Davis, and the rest of the New York Knicks should continue with their great high energy defense, the team needs to learn to gel, especially off of screens and run-arounds.
Hopefully, with steady improvement on both ends of the floor, the New York Knicks can erase the embarrassment of Game 1. Luckily for the Knicks, the series is long and has just begun. Come on Knicks, let’s show Miami what New York is made of.