First-round preview: No. 2 Heat vs. No. 7 Knicks
It's fitting, given how crazy this New York season has been, that none of the three games these two teams played in the regular season -- all Miami wins -- have much relevance now. One Miami win came in late January, before the Jeremy Lin craze and with Carmelo Anthony out nursing injuries. A second came at the height of the Lin madness, just before the All-Star break. And the last came with Amar'e Stoudemire out and Anthony shifting to power forward.
All of those versions of the Knicks are now expired, leaving New York with the team it expected to have at the start of the season. And that team has been perhaps the worst of all the teams-within-a-team the Knicks have used. The Anthony/Stoudemire combination just hasn't worked, especially on offense, and now the Knicks face the challenge of making it work against a rested and (mostly) healthy Heat team.
Bosh can, and has. He shot 23-of-50 combined in three games against New York, despite a horrid 4-of-18 performance in the first. He can pop out for jumpers, and when Chandler rushes to close, Bosh has had success dribbling by him. If Chandler has to rove too far to stop an initial action, someone else on the Knicks must rotate to Bosh, and that rotation hasn't consistently been there. When Bosh holds the ball on the block and isolates, the advantage shifts back Chandler's way.
The LeBron James/Anthony and Dwyane Wade/Iman Shumpert matchups are also tantalizing.
The Heat know how they must play in order to reach another level on offense; they showed it with their fiery 11-1 record in February. Expect a renewed focus after some late-season stagnancy, and while New York may able to get good looks from three against Miami's aggressive rotations, the Heat's talent and the Knicks' roster issues spell a Miami victory.