May 6, 2012; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) and Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) exchange words on the court during the first half of game four in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE

Missed Opportunity; HEAT Drop Game 4, Knicks-Style

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Author: Brian Spry

Sad day for HEAT fans.

Apparently, Sunday was Dress-Up-and-Play-Like-a-Knick Day at Madison Square Garden; HEAT got first prize in the look-alike contest with their Knicks-like performance in a 89-87 loss.

Ironically, lots of common elements from Thursday night’s win that went the other way today. Turnovers were up on both sides but not out of control (14 and 17 for HEAT and Knicks, respectively). Low shooting percentages from 3-point land for the HEAT (3-19). Had some miscues on defense, errant-passes and opportunities all over the place that went kaput. Mediocrity on both sides of the ball, resulting in a Knicks win which earns them a free trip to South Beach at least until Wednesday.

Disappointed. It’s the Knicks and all their history. How great it would have been to shut them down with an exclamation point heading into the 2nd round. And I can’t for the life of me understand a few things that were so different tonight compared to games 1-3.

1. Defense, LeBron James on Carmelo Anthony: Masterful defensive performance from LeBron Game 1, he owned Carmelo everywhere rendering him ineffective (more like irrelevant) on both sides of the ball. What happened since then? Sunday’s game had Shane Battier on ‘Melo most of the night, which resulted in a 41 point performance and the loss. The matchup has been greatly reduced since the success from Game 1, can’t figure out why.

2. Bench: 9 man rotation tonight vs. 10+men over nights 1-3. And one of the entries was James Jones for 1 minute. Essentially, the HEAT really went with 8 men in this clincher, and without critical rotation out for Mario Chalmers (Wade and LeBron alternated at point, which is common in other instances) by bringing in Norris Cole. It is an absolute fact that they will use a smaller rotation in the playoffs, I get it. Just an opportunity to change up the play a bit and get something started especially as bad as the overall bench production was.  Another missed opportunity.

3. Final inbound play: HEAT needed two points, inbound-play was broken as Wade mis-dribbled,  got out to the arc for a low-percentage 3 pointer and just missed.

I’ll be the first one to say, I’m probably going to wear a “Coach Spoelstra For President” T-Shirt to work tomorrow if the shot actually went in. That’s the great benefit of hindsight and being a fan when your team loses. However, the best 3-point shooter for the HEAT that night was 2-for-5 and was wearing a #6, not #3. In a game that could be decided by one-or-two points, why doesn’t LeBron get the call in that scenario? This is a recurring argument from last year, I get it, but…man, the end result was a tough one to stomach and kind of made your insides pucker a bit.

You’d just like to have the win, period.

The sweep, in the bleeping Garden.

Sigh.

I’m not going to be the guy ringing the panic alarms for the HEAT right now. Local and National outlets will have that covered pretty well once Monday arrives and it’s mid-day headline time. I will say that I’m disappointed that the HEAT played to the Knicks’ level and let this one get away, which has been an issue in the past.

It’s the biggest concern and only concern. Will they be as bad as who they’re playing, or be naturally GREAT? That is always the question. To be continued on Wednesday nights’ game 5 in Miami.

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Tags: May 2012 Miami Heat National Basketball Association NBA New York Knicks Playoffs Postseason

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