Heading into the first round of the 2012 NBA Playoffs, I heard countless people say the New York Knicks were the sleeper team in the Eastern Conference.
Everytime I heard this false statement whether it be from blogger and radio personality Susan Shan or friend Richard Green, I shock my head and held all curse words within to keep my circle of sports friends and colleagues nip-tuck. But deep down, I wanted to rip every single one of them a new one.
Let’s face it, Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony haven’t gelled since day one. Before Melo came to New York around last season’s trade deadline Stoudemire was a force to be reckoned with and was a mid-season MVP candidate. Not a bottom of the ballot nominee, but a top three hopeful.
Once Melo arrived, Stoudemire’s numbers and his attitude towards the game went away. It carried over to this season. The big guy did suffer some injuries and his brother pasted away, but at the end of the day he didn’t have a great season and looked like a shell of himself from just a year ago.
Not only was Stoudemire lost, but so was the New York offense because it relied on Melo to do everything. Melo is a scorer, not a distributor or the kind of guy a team should getleadership from. He was put into a position to fail. The same position he held with the Denver Nuggets that ended with the same result.
The Knicks’ offense needed a distributor who could set up Stoudemire and Melo for easier baskets. Jeremy Lin had a great three week run but then broke down in both game play and physically. Veteran Baron Davis came in and did his thing (nowhere near his once All-Star level), but then he too got hit with the injury bug.
With all of these issues/problems surrounding their two best players and a point scoring scheme, how in the hell were the Knicks supposed to win four games in a seven game series against the Miami Heat?
My answer: they weren’t.
Basketball fans and commentators bought into the hype and the story lines of the Miami-New York series and daydreamed an unbelievable ending. ESPN and other nationwide sports media outlets have a love affair with huge market teams such as the Boston Celtics, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Knicks. Whenever they’re in the playoffs or have a superstar level player, these teams are NBA Finals hopefuls.
Sorry to bring the daydreamers back to reality, but the Knicks were out of the first round before it began.
Miami doesn’t only have one point guard who can run a team, but three in Mario Chalmers, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.
The Heat don’t have a once dominant power forward who is now just okay (Stoudemire), but a still dominant power forward who has had a great season as a third option in Chris Bosh.
If an observer looks past the big three, Udonis Haslem’s presence on both the boards and in the low post offense would be seen. Joel Anthony is probably the biggest offensive liability in professional basketball, however, he is a force on the other side of the ball.
The Miami Heat, unlike last season, are not the circus but an elite team that have the odds on their side to win this seasons’ NBA Championship. New York is now the former. They have the constant media chit chat surrounding them and a cameraman ready to film their self-destruct.
LeBron, Wade and company picked their spots and played their game while the Knicks were suffocated by their own demons.
In my opinion, a team with only one of its main players playing his A-game will never beat a full-functioning team with the talent of the Miami Heat.
New York found this out the hard way.