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Heat have a plan for Jeremy Lin… and it’s not who you think

Feb 23, 2012, 11:31 AM EDT

New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin and Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony looks on against the Atlanta Hawks in the second quarter of their NBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden in New York Reuters

Jeremy Lin vs. Joel Anthony.

That is the matchup that will determine the highly anticipated showdown between the Miami Heat and New York Knicks Thursday night in South Beach.

Not LeBron James or Dwyane Wade — although they will both get their say — but rather Joel Anthony.

Let me explain. (Tom Haberstroh at ESPN pointed the matchup out first.)

The Heat have been on a tear — seven straight wins all by a dozen points or more — because of their aggressive defense. The Knicks offense is predicated on points in transition and a heavy dose of pick-and-roll. Lin thrives in this system because he has crafty skills at getting to the rim and when he turns the corner off the pick he tends to slow down just a little then make good decisions.

Miami’s defensive plan is to blow that up. Not just against the Knicks, but every night. The Heat don’t have the best defense in the league (seventh in points per possession surrendered) but they have the most aggressive. They come at you, pressure you, try to force turnovers so they can get out and run (James and Wade are unstoppable in the open court). They can do that better than any other team because they are loaded with long, strong athletes.

They are not changing that for the Knicks, as Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told ESPN’s Heat Index.

“We’re going to try to bring our game to them, not necessarily to react and adapt to their pick-and-roll game,” Spoelstra said. “We’ll continue to play to our identity and to our style, which is to be disruptive.”

That’s where Joel Anthony comes in. Most of the pick-and-rolls the Knicks ran last night were with Tyson Chandler setting the pick. That’s Anthony’s man, and he is going to show out hard and pressure Lin. They are going to trap him and try to force Lin to make decisions under that pressure. Lin is going to have LeBron or Wade on him at many points, two of the league’s most aggressive defenders. Lin has already had some turnover issues, the Heat want more of those — then to turn those into highlight dunks going the other way.

Lin has handled all the pressure thrown at him so far very well. But this is different. The Heat are not Defensive Pressure 101, this is a graduate level course. Maybe doctorate level.

When teams pressure and trap they leave shooters open — Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and the rest of the Knicks have to knock down outside shots. They have to take the lanes they get to the rim and not miss when LeBron or Wade rotate over fast looking for the block. Steve Novak could have another big game.

The Heat are not unbeatable, but the calm decision making of Lin is going to be put to the test like never before. It doesn’t help that the Knicks played last night and traveled while the Heat had the night off at home and are rested.

Just another hurdle for Lin and the Knicks. But if you don’t think they stand a chance to clear it, you haven’t been watching the last two weeks.

  1. mgscott - Feb 23, 2012 at 11:33 AM

    Watch out for those Cavaliers

  2. dysraw1 - Feb 23, 2012 at 11:53 AM

    yes they do pressure and trap a lot, so that makes tonight protect the ball night. I am more concern about what we allow on defense, thats where ricky-D lacks planning

  3. reupjosh - Feb 23, 2012 at 11:54 AM

    Wait, what… Wade and Lebron are good in the open court? Haven’t heard that one before. Thanks for clearing that up.

  4. shockexchange - Feb 23, 2012 at 12:31 PM

    Chris Palmer of ESPN is reporting that some Heat players are saying privately that they won’t allow Lin to score over 10 points. If you want something broadcasted, tell ESPN to keep it a secret. This should be interesting.

    • md23rewlz - Feb 23, 2012 at 9:36 PM

      Good call by some Heat players.

  5. southbeachtalent - Feb 23, 2012 at 1:00 PM

    I literally can not wait for this game.

    • 1972wasalongtimeago - Feb 23, 2012 at 2:18 PM

      I’m not going to be able to get home until 8pm tonight ( I do have a life outside making wise-cracks on PBT and PFT). Got my Tivo set. Please, nobody call me, text me, tweet me, talk to me, email me, look at me, until at least 10:00.

  6. canehouse - Feb 23, 2012 at 1:25 PM

    Linderal’s glass slipper will get knocked off way before midnight tonight! The HEAT are GEEKED this one… as am I!!! Will be a fun evening at the Triple A tonight. Don’t believe for a nano-second that any HEAT players would be declaring anything like that about shutting Lin down. ESPN is full of “look at me” journalist, bloggers, etc. The HEAT players are true professionals!

  7. 1972wasalongtimeago - Feb 23, 2012 at 2:15 PM

    If you want to beat the Heat, you have to go Balls-Crazy from 3. That’s it. Shoot a ton of three’s and hope you shoot 45% or better.

    • dysraw1 - Feb 23, 2012 at 2:44 PM

      that did not work last time when the knicks took 43 3s I wanted dick dantone to lose his job that night

      • 1972wasalongtimeago - Feb 23, 2012 at 3:52 PM

        Knicks went 18-43 from 3. That’s 41%. They make 2 or 3 more of those baskets, their score increases, and the points I’m sure Miami got off those misses come off the boards. NYK win that game.

        I don’t know crap about any of the 29 other teams in the NBA. I actually had to google how many teams there are in the NBA before I made that comment. I only know about one team. And I know how that team can be beaten. Make a boat-load of 3s (and hope the Heat take and miss a boat-load of 3s). Miss too many, and you’re going to get rolled over. But make them (48% or more), and you can win.

    • cantonbound13 - Feb 23, 2012 at 3:38 PM

      Dallas beat them by playing a team offense & defense. The Heat are not a great team. They don’t have a title do they?

      • southbeachtalent - Feb 23, 2012 at 4:41 PM

        Niether do the Bulls or OKC and they’re pretty decent wouldn’t you say?

      • md23rewlz - Feb 23, 2012 at 7:11 PM

        From a Mavs fan, so no Miami homerism here: If the Heat–a team that lost in the NBA Finals last year and is more put together this time around–aren’t a great team, what does that make the Knicks? A horrible team? I dislike the Knicks and all of the absurd hype that’s come to them so much that I am going to be rooting for Miami tonight. And I never thought I’d root for Miami after James signed with them.

      • cantonbound13 - Feb 29, 2012 at 7:11 AM

        Sorry you hate the Knicks, it’s unfortunate because they’re going to be good for a while.

  8. trickybastard - Feb 23, 2012 at 2:17 PM

    Kurt how about you post something about the rest of the players in the NBA. Lazy journalism

  9. shieldsisland37 - Feb 23, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    Good vs Evil

  10. dysraw1 - Feb 23, 2012 at 2:53 PM

    heres the deal on a good night with the stars in alignment just right we match up pretty well against the super team in playoff game they would be the scared ones, but its the regular season when the super team is most dominate you almost have to be perfect to beat them. lets hope the stars are aligned.

    • 1972wasalongtimeago - Feb 23, 2012 at 3:42 PM

      You’re referring to the Knicks as the Super Team, right?

  11. marcusfitzhugh - Feb 23, 2012 at 4:23 PM

    Guard Lin with LeBron? Isn’t there a slight problem with that? If the Heat have LeBron on Lin, then who’s checking Melo? A PG? Lets not forget, Melo is the guy who holds the NBA record for the most points scored in a single quarter. Melo has lit up at least two teams for 50, is that really the matchup Miami wants? How is a PG supposed to check him? If the answer is to put the PF on Melo, then exactly who is guarding Amare? The center? Which leaves who on Chandler? D’Antoni’s style is to spread the floor. In Phoenix, mismatches were painful.

    • southbeachtalent - Feb 23, 2012 at 4:40 PM

      Chalmers will be on Lin. LeBron would be overkill. Regardless as you stated, Melo has to be held in check. Lets not make Lin Derrick Rose yet….

  12. granadafan - Feb 23, 2012 at 4:29 PM

    The Heat will put Joel Anthony on Lin like a glove, but he won’t be asked to expend any energy on pesky things like scoring. It may work, but that will leave another Knick open especially if the Heat try to double team Lin. The Knicks need to be smart about moving the ball around quickly so the double teams will be ineffective. Rapid ball movement can lead to what Lin does best, driving to the hoop with his athleticism and quickness. If they can’t then it’ll be a Heat victory. Not a Heat fan, but this team really plays unselfish, especially on defense.

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