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Miami edges New York with execution; can the Knicks sustain going one-on-one?

Apr 15, 2012, 4:53 PM EDT

LeBron James Carmelo Anthony Getty Images

It was a battle of very successful, very flawed approaches, when you think about it.

The Miami Heat edged the New York Knicks with a closing round flurry Sunday, 93-85. The Heat looked like the much better team in the first and fourth quarters, New York the more complete and hungrier squad in the 2nd and 3rd. What we learned inside those two subsets revealed a pair of elements about both teams.

  • Both the Heat and the Knicks are extremely talented and when they are doing what they do best, can simply overwhelm the other team with talent.
  • Both the Heat and the Knicks suffer from a lack of cohesive effort. Mentally for the Heat, and approach for the Knicks.

The Heat had the same issues they’ve had for the past two years. After transforming into a flying death machine for the first quarter, getting out and running and creating havoc with superior physical ability, once the Knicks adjusted and started forcing containment, the Heat ran into complex coverage and started forcing it. You know the drill. Turnovers, off-balance jumpers, trying to out-talent the opponent with tough shots instead of using their talent to create easy ones.

So how did Miami win? Because New York’s approach is valiant, and impressive, and not at all sustainable. The Knicks relied on isolation plays from Carmelo Anthony consistently, and after 43 minutes, and when faced with varying coverages from Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, Anthony simply couldn’t seal the deal. Working your tail off on defense is what puts the Knicks in position to win, and great players hitting big shots is an indelible part of the NBA. But relying on it so much for 48 minutes is just not a sustainable approach. Synergy Sports indicates that Anthony went ISO 19 times against Miami. The Heat by comparison as a team went ISO 23 times, including 14 for LeBron James. That’s a lot of one-on-one play.

And in the end, the Heat made the plays. They shut down Anthony, who only had two field goals in the fourth. James and Wade each had two in the final five minutes. Combine that with some questionable decision making, and the Heat were able to finish off the Knicks.

Now, Anthony carried them with that same play for much of the game. Anthony was a monster, and it’s amazingly impressive that he can produce at that level given how hard it is to go one-on-five. But it’s not sustainable. There’s definitely a time and place for giving Anthony, arguably the best one-on-one player in the league right now, the ball and letting him do work. But after that many minutes and that many shots, defended by two of the best players in the league, it just didn’t work out.

The Knicks may have proved Sunday they can hang with Miami, scare them, force the issue, especially if Jeremy Lin and Amar’e Stoudemire return. But can they win? Maybe some. But overall?

The war looks a lot different than the individual battles. For the Heat, they get a road win against a playoff opponent who plays tough defense, by getting clutch scoring from their two stars. Both teams did what they do, and though from here it doesn’t look good enough to win a title, for the Heat it’s a good sign. For the Knicks, it’ll be a coin flip as long as this is their approach.

  1. clifford84 - Apr 15, 2012 at 5:33 PM

    Well, it’s not like this is the Knicks’ intended offensive strategy. They’re missing their starting PG and PF. If they had Lin to run the offense and Amar’e as a secondary scorer, it’d be a pretty different offensive team.

  2. cakemixa - Apr 15, 2012 at 5:49 PM

    Carmelo makes Kobe look like a selfless distributor.

    • progress2011 - Apr 15, 2012 at 10:53 PM

      cake…your comment really suggests, you know nothing about the players or the game of bball.

      kobe has taken 1298 shots and Melo has taken 892 shots

      kobe has jacked-up 406 more shots than Melo ! That’s krazy.

      They are very different players. No body jacks-up more shots than the ” ball hawk…aka kobe “

      • Justin - Apr 15, 2012 at 11:44 PM

        Well if you are just gonna throw away the fact that Kobe has played more games than Melo and use stats that don’t include tonight’s games might as well just throw out the fact Kobe averages 4.6 assists against Melo’s 3.5.

      • progress2011 - Apr 16, 2012 at 6:10 AM

        O.K. Justin ( As of 16 Apr 2012 )

        Melo is a Forward – at this position, players are not expected to be distributors. Therefore assists will generally be lower than a guard/ kobe, who is expected to distribute the ball.

        However, averaging 4.6 assists as a guard (which kobe is) is far below top tier guards, that play the position correctly. Rose is averaging 7.9 assists per game. Conversely Rondo is at 11.6 assists per game.

        kobe has played 56 games and Melo has played 50 games.

        kobe has still taken 1298 shots and Melo has taken 919 shots = difference of 379 shots

        OR 63 shots per game difference, over 6 games !!!!

        So, again I conclude, your comments as well as cakes comments, suggest you know nothing about players or the game.

      • pbanach01 - Apr 16, 2012 at 12:40 PM

        Agreed…Kobe has played 6 or 7 more games then Melo. Kobe still has 379 more shots. Do the math. Kobe just is allowed to take more without criticism because of the two giants he has on the front court that get tons of boards.

      • Justin - Apr 17, 2012 at 1:51 AM

        Progress2011

        I am not saying you are entirely wrong. I agree that Kobe takes too many shots. Problem is Melo is shooting at terrible percentage. I already think Kobe’s shooting percentage is terrible and low and behold Melo’s is even worse!

        The real problem is you jump on ESPN or Yahoo stats sheet and think you know everything about basketball. Yes lets try and look smart and compare a shooting guard’s assist numbers to a point guard. If you want to say a forward is not suppose to distribute then would it not be logical to say a SHOOTING guard is suppose to shoot. Did you also know that Kobe is actually in the top 5 when you compare him strictly to SG?

        If you want I can break down all positions on a basketball court and how a PG and SG differ.

    • pbanach01 - Apr 16, 2012 at 12:24 PM

      how by shooting 14-27 w 5 dimes? If he had two of the best big men in the league on his squad he would not have to do nearly as much on offense.

  3. gabe0988 - Apr 15, 2012 at 5:50 PM

    Lin cant play d and amare is over the hill with
    Production heat would win in five

  4. livingsacrifice86 - Apr 15, 2012 at 5:58 PM

    I agree with gabe, the Knicks were arguably at their worst with Lin and Amare in the lineup with Carmelo. What makes you think they’d be better with those guys sitting for a month and then trying to come back and make things work?

    • clifford84 - Apr 15, 2012 at 7:20 PM

      I’ll give you Amar’e: I don’t think they’ve quite figured out how to integrate him with Melo.

      But if you’ve watched the Knicks during the Woodson era, it’s pretty obvious that they could really, really use Lin. Baron Davis isn’t hacking it as a starting PG, and after him they’ve got no one.

      And Lin can play D (certainly as well as an injured Baron Davis).

      • saintlaron - Apr 15, 2012 at 8:17 PM

        Baron is the better defender. More versatile/experienced. Can match up with the guards. Lin can get you a couple steals though.

      • starks3 - Apr 16, 2012 at 12:06 AM

        Lin’s D was awefull, how many point guards shredded him rhondo, D. rose, D. Williams.

      • cullenand99 - Apr 16, 2012 at 3:44 PM

        @starks3 In Lin’s defense, those guys would shred most point guards in the league.

  5. pbanach01 - Apr 15, 2012 at 7:30 PM

    The knicks do struggle on offensive at points because of lack of chemistry, proper ball movement and a point guard. Not sure how anyone can say a bad word about Melo anymore though. He has proved everyone talking junk on all of these online forums wrong a few times over. Look at his stat line today and then get an idea of what your talking about. Regardless without a point guard or consistent penetration the Knicks will struggle to score against very good defensive teams. As a NY fan I would love to see them win in the first round this year but being realistic it probably wont happen.

    But the Knicks play real tough and they would have not kept this game that close 6 weeks ago. That is called progression and especially without a point guard it is a step in the right direction. There is still a piece or two missing but you have got to be excited about this team. Not afraid of anyone they just do not quite have the firepower to beat the east’s elite in a series right now. Either way everyone can continue to dog the Knicks but if you actually watch this team you see something special forming.

    They have instant offense off the bench (jr) a superstar and two dominant defensive players on the perimeter and down low. Without penetration and good passing from the guard position the Knicks will be stagnant at times but that will be addressed in the off season by resigning Lin and adding another point guard. Gotta love the way this ship is headed. It obviously sucks that realistically they will probably exit in the first round this year but once this team gets some more time together to build chemistry they will be a force to be reckoned with. Bright future for the Knickerbockers. Keep talking all of you but once you gain a little more basketball knowledge you will see a perennial playoff team forming in NY.

  6. lakerluver - Apr 15, 2012 at 8:13 PM

    Wow, they beat a broken down Knick team.

  7. jimeejohnson - Apr 15, 2012 at 8:40 PM

    The Knicks with Stoudemire and Lin were clobbered by Miami earlier this season. Say no more! Knicks, at least, are competitive. But they cannot beat upper echelon teams like the Celtics, Lakers, Mavericks, Spurs, Thunder, Heat, Bulls, in a 7 game series. At least the Knicks have a chance to win, again. Finally: you live by Carmelo, you die by Carmelo!

  8. blsessex - Apr 16, 2012 at 7:32 AM

    Why do people keep bringing up Lin? The guy cannot play defense. His game is to attack, attack, attack. Defense always wins over offense. Once you shut off his attack, he becomes useless.

    They had Baron Davis covering James several times throughout the game. Lin would NEVER be allowed to guard James. He is just not a defensive minded player.

  9. schaffershokai - Apr 16, 2012 at 9:06 AM

    Time for the Knicks to give it up and meet a woman like this: http://youtu.be/7NRRrnaz2uo

  10. dysraw1 - Apr 16, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    kinda stuck between a rock n hard place, i mean the majority of the game Melo’s scoring was in the flow of the game. but nobody else brought it. so now 4th qt we get a whole lot of forced action. the reason im not crazy about him getting the urge to carry the team is it takes the other guys out of game. so in my mind Melo has to turn up when needed and still keep his mates in the game. which is easier said than done

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