MIAMI, FL - APRIL 28: Guard Baron Davis #85 (R) of the New York Knicks chats with his Coach Mike Woodson while playing against the Miami Heat in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on April 28, 2012 at the American Airines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
The sheer devastation of yesterday's loss made it feel kind of like a sweep-- a single-game throttling so vigorous that the rest of the games ought to just be mercifully canceled. If this was ping-pong, the skunk rule may have been invoked for the whole series. Hell, the Iman Shumpert injury made me wish the Knicks just hadn't made the postseason at all.
We were reminded last year against the Celtics, though, that playoff games-- perhaps even more so than regular season games-- are contained, isolated entities that can vary wildly within a single series. The Knicks were a lower seed last year, and they went from looking genuinely competitive in Game One to scrapping in Game Two to looking utterly outmatched in Games Three and Four. Granted, none of those defeats were nearly as abysmal as yesterday's (and the Knicks were competitive before suffering major injuries), but the point stands that the loss-- the actual shortcoming in points, I mean-- was just one loss. There are three to six games left to play, and they could each be decided by one or two points, or the Knicks could just destroy the Heat the rest of the way and win the series 4-1. IT'S NOT IMPOSSIBLE WHERE ARE YOU GOING COME BACK HERE.
So yeah, the rest of the games ought to be quite different from yesterday's suffering. The only thing guaranteed to carry over is that cruel, pestilent injury bug. Shumpert is out of the picture completely. Tyson Chandler still has to rid himself of that asshole of a virus that completely sapped him of his presence yesterday. Baron Davis's back, stiffened to the point that he sat through most of the second half, is a concern once again.
One hopes that Davis and somebody vaguely resembling Chandler will be good to go for Game Two, but Shumpert's absence means the lineup and match-ups must change. Landry Fields will probably move into the starting lineup and draw the assignment of Dwyane Wade, who's pretty good at sports. Fields and J.R. Smith will play increased roles, and might have to log more minutes as utility point guards with Shump gone and Davis an injury risk.
Meanwhile, Jeremy Lin's health is advancing rapidly, and there are now suggestions that he could return later in this series. Considering the risk involved and the way the Heat devoured Lin this season, one wonders if it's even worth it, but I think the understanding is that reactivating Lin won't be considered unless New York makes the series competitive.
And again, this series could become competitive. It's not out of the question. It sure doesn't feel that way right now (and I may look back on this post following a violent sweep and laugh through the tears and blood cascading down my face), but hey, weren't there points during the regular season when it felt like the Knicks had zero shot of making the playoffs? Right? Things can turn on a dime, especially in a season as bizarre as this one. At least that's what I'm telling myself right now. Either way, there are games still to play and-- if the Knicks hope to compete-- quite a few adjustments to make.