New York basketball is alive once again. Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler lead a Knicks squad that feels like they have something to prove. Under interim head coach Mike Woodson, the Knicks are 18-6, and playing inspired on both ends of the floor. After a dismal 18-24 start to the season, Mike D’Antoni was ousted and Woodson stepped in. New York is now staring down a first round matchup with the Miami Heat. 2-7 match-ups are usually one sided, but we may be looking at an NCAA tournament level upset in this NBA playoff bout. The Knicks have all the pieces to pick apart LeBron and company, but it’ll take more than Melo to beat the Heat.
Even with Jeremy Lin lost for the season, the Knicks are playing as a cohesive unit. They share the ball well for the most part, but rely on Carmelo Anthony to carry the offensive load. Tyson Chandler provides much needed toughness and defensive intensity to this team. Amar’e Stoudemire has returned to the lineup after experiencing back issues. His intensity nearly matches Chandler and will make for a formidable front line in New York. Let’s not forget Wisconsin native Steve Novak. Leading the league in three-point percentage, Novak has become a fan favorite.
LeBron and the Heat are on a mission. This year is championship or bust for Miami. LeBron recently tweeted, “@KingJames: I really just (feel) like a fish in the smallest fish bowl ever!! Smh”. That fish bowl can only get smaller for LeBron if he doesn’t win a title this year. This fish bowl symbolizes the every day scrutiny the LeBron endures, and the pressure on James that continues to build up. The “not 5, not 6, not 7″ championships debacle from the day he signed with the Heat is looking bleaker every day. The Knicks have a chance to pull a huge upset, and add drama to the LeBron situation, but it’s all up to them.
The clear favorite in this matchup is Miami, but don’t be surprised if Anthony and the Knicks can outmatch the Heat. This hot streak in recent months has New York fans drooling over this playoff matchup. Heat-Knicks has been a classic rivalry in the NBA playoffs, with game 7’s and big names abound. Historic bouts between the Pat Riley lead Heat and the Knicks are important pieces of NBA history. In a modern context, this renews a truly epic rivalry, and this series should be a good one. Game 1 tips off Saturday in Miami at 3:30 P.M. Eastern on ABC.