I think everyone agreed that the method for the Knicks possibly taking this series was to grab one of the first two games. It would have been totally awesome if we had been able to do that.
But we didn't do that. So that's not totally awesome. But it's also not totally unexpected. The Heat knew that our best path to victory was to win one of the first two games at Miami, they knew we were possibly dangerous, and they are a very good team that took care of business. Sure, they were helped by friendly whistles as a home team with lots of stars will be. They were also the beneficiaries of our elite defensive center getting the flu, and our best perimeter defender going down with a torn ACL. Not to mention our other defensive intangiblor, Jeffries, being hobbled with half a knee.
Now, our backs are against the wall, and we have to win games 3 AND 4 at the Garden if we are going to win this series. The good things are that Tyson should be at full strength, and Baron will get an extra day of rest for his back, and the Garden crowd should help us and the refs should be friendlier. The bad stuff is, well, we all know the bad stuff. Oh, yeah, plus Amar'e fileted his hand.
First of all, does anyone know for sure that there wasn't a trash can fire going in the locker room that Amar'e just wanted to put out? Lets not rush to conclusions. Seriously though, dumb move for Amar'e to cap off a frustrating year for him in so many ways. I love Amar'e and I'm in his corner. I also think he can still be an effective player with a point guard and an offseason with the right trainers and a full training camp. But right now, I don't think he's adding all that much to the Knicks' chances for victory, because the Knicks don't seem to be able to figure out a way to involve him in the offense, and he's kind of a liability in other areas. Melo has proven to be a nice complement to Tyson at the 4, and in game three, I'm sure, will see Melo back there.
Now, what else should Woody do to try to get a win here? I have a few ideas.
PG-Baron Davis - No reason to change here. Two days between the next two games gives Baron a decent chance of being effective.
SG-Toney Douglas - OK, hear me out. Nobody wants Toney as the primary ball handler. But for two seasons, Toney had a 3 point stroke. And was an energetic and quick defender. Maybe this strikes as a desperation move. But I think that with Shump out and Melo at the 4, you're going to have Fields and Smith playing a lot of small forward. So I think Toney in the rotation makes sense. And if Toney's in the rotation, I think starting him at the 2 alongside Baron represents the best chance at him getting comfortable and hitting some shots. Can he stop Wade? Doubtful. But he can do better than Landry can. He doesn't have to play huge minutes, but start him. There is an element of surprise here too that could knock the Heat off their groove.
SF-Landry Fields - To rely on Landry's shooting stroke is probably folly. To rely on him to be a defensive stopper, also folly. He's going to have to guard LeBron, and LeBron will hurt him... but worse than Wade hurt him? Doubtful. I think that LeBron, having Fields as an assignment, will roam, and that might create opportunities for hustle plays. Probably LeBron will guard Melo and Bosh will end up on Fields. He hasn't been able to make anyone pay for that, but it could draw Bosh to the perimeter, which could help us.
C - Tyson Chandler - At full strength, out for revenge.
Off the bench:
J.R. Smith - Live by the Smith, die by the Smith. The thing I like about Smith is that, when he's in the game, possessions almost always end in shots. That's much better than a possession ending in a turnover. And J.R.'s defensive energy has been good. I'm not sure how I feel about this guy as a player, but he's what we've got. Smith subs in for Fields and Douglas.
Jared Jeffries - I'm afraid Jeffries' knee may be toast.... but I think bringing him in to spell Tyson is a good idea because it keeps a defensive quarterback on the floor at all times. Some teams will make you pay for using a guy like Jeffries at the 5. I don't think the Heat is one of them.
Josh Harrellson - This is kind of a wild card. But with Jeffries limited, and unable to hit a jumpshot anyway, I think Jorts can give you some minutes when Carmelo is resting. During those minutes, he can play some enthusiastic D, foul a couple of guys, grab a rebound or two. And if he happens to find himself at the 3 point line, he might just hit a couple of those. Time to shine Jorts, we need ya for the 10 or so minutes Melo isn't in the game.
Mike Bibby - If Baron was healthy, I wouldn't bother with this. But he's not. So Bibby has to come in and play some minutes backing up Baron. Plus having Bibby in the rotation means that you don't have to EVER let Toney be primary point guard ball handler.
IF TYSON GETS IN FOUL TROUBLE
Dan Gadzuric - I'm starting to think that the Knicks made an awful mistake dropping Bill Walker for this character. If he's out of shape and can't play, man we could use a menacingly hard Bully foul about now. But if Tyson gets in foul trouble and Jeffries knee can't handle more than a few minutes, then earn your fuckin' money Dan.
Prediction: Knicks lose a heartbreaker in game 3 to set record for consecutive playoff losses. Lin announces he'll return for game 4. No one understands why he would risk his knee to return in a hopeless series. But Lin comes back, beasts, and leads the Knicks to victory in game 4. In game 5, he beasts again, and the the Knicks pull out an unlikely victory in Miami to bring the game back to the Garden for game 6. In game 6, the Heat bottle up Lin, Melo goes cold, Tyson gets in foul trouble and the Knicks stick around thanks to some awesom defense and three poitn shooting from Novak and Jorts... but the Heat pull away in the 4th. In the final minute, the team gets a rousing standing ovation from the Garden crowd, and the future looks bright. Heat go on to win what will be their only championship in the big 3 era.