Apr 30, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) during the second half of game two in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs the Miami Heat at the American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

New York Knicks vs. Miami Heat: Game 3 Preview

A lot of things have happened since the Knicks lost Game 2 to the Miami Heat on Monday night. Amar’e Stoudemire met a fire extinguisher, Tyson Chandler won Defensive Player of the Year, Jeremy Lin did some basketball things. So, in case you forgot, the Knicks are in the midst of a first round playoffs series with the Heat and are currently down 0-2. Tonight they play Game 3 in Madison Square Garden.

The focus tonight will undoubtedly be on Carmelo Anthony and his move back to the power forward spot where he had so much success in April. Because Stoudemire will miss tonight with the laceration on his hand, the Knicks will go small, thus putting Anthony back in a position he thrived at in the weeks leading up to the playoffs.

A big part of that potential move for the Knicks, however, will hinge on whether or not Chris Bosh plays tonight. His wife just had a baby (Congrats, Boshes) and he flew down to Miami to join her. It is unknown whether or not he will rejoin the team tonight. On one hand, Bosh’s absence would seemingly give the Knicks an upper-hand, making a small team even smaller, and eliminating the third scoring option for the Heat. However, losing Bosh would also effectively eliminate the Knicks and Anthony’s mismatch as LeBron James would surely be moved to the four to match-up with ‘Melo.

Likewise, while some fans gleefully celebrated over the absence of Stoudemire and re-embraced Power Forward ‘Melo II, this move also even further diminishes the Knicks bench. Once thought of as their greatest strength (perhaps prematurely coined Mobb Deep), the Knicks will move either J.R. Smith or Steve Novak into the starting lineup to fill in for Stoudemire’s absence. This leaves Mike Bibby, Jared Jeffries, and perhaps Josh Harrellson to come off the bench – a pretty weak crew.

Nearly everything will hinge on Carmelo Anthony’s performance tonight. It seems fathomable that he could replicate his success on offense tonight (he had 42 points against the Heat three weeks ago), but he will also be the focal point of the Heat’s defense. While there is tremendous amounts of pressure on Anthony to carry the offense, Baron Davis, Landry Fields, Tyson Chandler, Smith, and Novak will also need to contribute scoring if the Knicks have any chance to beat Miami tonight.

Things have fallen to a near hopeless level because of Miami’s two crushing victories to open the playoffs, but it’s only a two-game deficit and the Knicks have an eager crowd awaiting them at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks are currently flirting with a dubious distinction, so there is even more pressure to win tonight. Steal Game 3, and the Knicks have one more at home, with the possibility of Amar’e returning. Steal Game 4 as well and we’ll have a series.

Tonight is very important.

Tags: Carmelo Anthony Chris Bosh J.R. Smith LeBron James Madison Square Garden Miami Heat New York Knicks Playoffs Steve Novak

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