It’s more than obvious that The Knicks are by far the inferior team in this match-up. However, with a few minor fixes they may be able to make this thing a competition again.
Here are the three main issues: They have been torn apart by Lebron James and Dwyane Wade in the paint, and have not been able to play the elite defense that got them back into playoff contention. The ball movement has become almost non-existent, because Carmelo Anthony can’t trust anyone to score if he passes. And finally, Steve Novak’s touches have gone way down, and it is posing an issue from a bench scoring point of view.
The problem is that when Lebron and D-Wade kick out of the paint it is normally to an open Mike Miller or Shane Battier for a 3-pointer. In order to limit these sorts of sequences Mike Woodson has to tighten up his defensive rotations, and make sure they close out on shooters.
If we make The Heat try to beat us with Chris Bosh and Mario Chalmers then we will have a serious chance at protecting our home court, and tying the series at 2-2.
Carmelo needs to play the way he played when Amar’e Stoudemire was injured for 13 games. Good news! He won’t have much of choice since STAT went and cut his hand open, and will miss Game 3. That gives ‘Melo the space to go into the post and work his magic, or swing it around to his shooters (J.R. and Novak). Also with STAT out ‘Melo will play power forward; a position that helped lead to his Player of the Month Award in April.
STAT being out may fix ‘Melo, but it won’t fix the supporting cast. In fact, the bench will be even less deep (an area that was supposed to be a big positive for The Knicks) with J.R. Smith likely starting.
That leaves only Jared Jefferies (limited due to injury), Mike Bibby, and Steve Novak as decent role players. Without a reliable second scorer this team becomes too Carmelo-centric, which is super easy to defend. Once the Heat figure him out like they did in the second half yesterday, Coach Woody will need to find a way to use the double teams on ‘Melo to get the ball to an open shooter.
That’s where Steve Novak comes in. This guy is hotter than the sun from beyond the arc, but the Heat have done a great job freezing him out.
Coach Woody needs to figure out how to get him open whether it’s running down screens or trying to use him in a pick-and-pop type play. Novak can be the type of player who puts the game just out of reach, or gets you right back in it.
It seems like The Knicks do well enough in the first half, but fizzle in the second. That will be the moment to utilize Novak, which will in turn spread the floor for ‘Melo to work his magic. If Novak hits 3-4 three pointers, then his job will be finished.
Most of these changes fall on Mike Woodson, who is not only playing for a chance at a championship, but also the head coaching job. If he can take the team he turned into an 18-6 caliber squad, and duplicate that success in the Playoffs, it will likely lead to a nice extension (that is if Phil Jackson is not made available…).