Going into Thursday night’s game against the Miami Heat, no one, not even Knick fans, not even Stephan A. Smith thought that the Knicks would win. They were without Melo against the reigning championship team who just came off an embarrassing loss against the Washington Wizards. There was no way that Lebron James would let the Knicks demolish the Heat like they did on opening day again. The Heat were on a mission to prove to everyone on national TV that the Knicks are just an after thought to title contenders and not at the same level.
The exact opposite happened and once again the Heat was annihilated by the Knicks just like opening day – except this time, there was no Melo. The Knicks penetrated through the Heat’s weak defense scoring three after three (18 to be exact) by a myriad of players (7 players in double figures). Chandler, Felton, Novak, and Smith all stepped up and made up for the scoring that Melo usually brings to the table.
The Heat simply played like babies – every time you thought that they were going to come back and play championship level basketball, they died out. Wade had a whopping +/- of -33, Bosh had+/- of 21, and LeBron, well… he was still LeBron and almost had a triple double.
Then came last night against the Chicago Bulls. Like Mike Woodson, head coach Tom Thibodeau of the Bulls is very defensive minded, and you knew that he wouldn’t let what happened against the Heat, happen against his team. Instead of the Knicks shooting 41% from three and 45% FG against the Heat, the Knicks shot 34% from three and 32% FG. Instead of 8 turnovers against the Heat, the Knicks had 15 against the Bulls. Instead of constant ball movement for wide-open shots for Novak, we had a stagnant pick and roll offense with Felton and Chandler. There is nothing bad about pick and roll, but Felton wasn’t hitting the mid range shot (9-30) which needs to happen for it to be working. And JR Smith, once again played his wild basketball shooting 4-14 with 5 turnovers. When threes aren’t falling and you don’t have the Melo, the Knicks are more likely to lose. That’s why relying on three poitners is so risky – While it acts a major weapon, it could also really hurt the team when they’re not falling.
When the Knicks were down by 3-5 points in the last 2 minutes of the game, they could not find any one of their players to hit the big shot. This is when they needed Melo the most. They had absolutely no go to scorer to knock down the jumper under pressure. Every team needs a go to player and with Melo coming back tonight, we will have that once again. This is a clear reason why we made this trade two years ago, shipping a bunch of solid players to the Nuggets for Melo. In situations like last night, where the Knicks need to finish off a game, they need a player like Melo to get the job done.
Although the Denver Nuggets have a lot of solid players on their team, they will never be championship caliber because they lack a player to finish off the game. In the past decade, you have Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs (2002-2003, 2004-2005, 2006-2007), Chauncey Billups of the Detroit Pistons, Paul Pierce of the Boston Celtics (2007-2008),
Kobe Bryant of LA Lakers (1999-2003, 2008-2009) Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks (2010-2011), James of the Miami Heat (2011-2012). As for the Knicks, there is Melo which hopefully will get us the (2012-2013) ring.