While watching the league’s two best teams battle it out for the NBA championship, it’s hard to envision the New York Knicks ever getting there.
These two teams are just too good and have the perfect blend of star power and role players. All Knicks fans would give their kidney for an NBA Finals appearance, so maybe the front office can look at the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs and take a page out of their book.
Here’s what the Knicks can learn from this Spurs-Heat Finals:
Rebounding: The Pacers dominated the boards in their second round matchup against the Knicks, and rebounding will prove to be key in the Finals. LeBron James is a beast on the boards, 18 in Game 1, while Tim Duncan recorded 14 himself. These superstars commit to rebounding, something Carmelo Anthony doesn’t and Tyson Chandler disappeared big time in the playoffs.
Consistent Scoring: Four out of the five starters scored double digits for Gregg Popovich’s Spurs, with Manu Ginobili being the fifth. Everyone commits and understands the system. They play team basketball throughout the game and have their stars in Tony Parker and Duncan step it up in the clutch and come through.
Outside of LeBron, the Heat have had trouble finding consistent scoring during these playoffs, but Dwyane Wade will find his points and Ray Allen can still make it rain from three. The bottom line is that most players don’t disappear from the box score in the playoffs. See Raymond Felton and J.R. Smith for the Knicks.
Smart Basketball: It’s hard to compare any point guard to Parker, who played 40 minutes with no turnovers, but the entire Spurs team only had four turnovers in Game 1. The Heat recorded eight turnovers on their own end, but the bottom line is that both these teams don’t hurt themselves and have smart possessions almost every time. Very efficient basketball by both teams, something the Knicks never play.
Unselfish Basketball: I don’t think there’s a team in the league that plays “team” basketball better than the Spurs. Popovich has a system, every single player buys into it, knows their role, and they excel. They have the quietest superstars in the league that trust everybody on their team. They would never have a player shoot over 25 shots in a game.
The Heat are top heavy with talent but they do trust their shooters and one another. It’s LeBron’s team but he has proven that he is an unselfish player, but sometimes that is his flaw (see Chris Bosh shooting a three in crunch time).
The New York Knicks have a long way to go if they ever want to be a championship team. Carmelo is a franchise player and a great foundation, but as we see with the Spurs and Heat, it takes a lot more than a superstar to play games in June.