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NBA Playoffs: Knicks compete early, but Heat roll late to take 3-0 series lead

May 3, 2012, 11:10 PM EDT

Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James AP

The Heat took command of their first round playoff series with the Knicks, winning Game 3 in New York 87-70 to take a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Matt Moore and I discussed.

Matt Moore: Ugly, ugly, grotesque basketball Thursday and it looked like the Knicks could do the improbable without Amar’e Stoudemire, relying on Landry Fields and Mike Bibby. Don’t know how that plan failed.

LeBron just shut it down in the fourth. And for once, it was the other team! Just closed them out since he had so much energy. Wade’s third quarter, James’ fourth quarter, and maybe biggest, Mike Miller couldn’t hit, Shane Battier couldn’t hit, but Mario Chalmers could and did. If the Heat find one shooter a game to do that, they’re pretty much unstoppable. The Knicks did everything you can do and it still wasn’t nearly enough.

Brett Pollakoff: You always like to talk about whether or not a way a team wins (or is winning) is sustainable. Well, when the Knicks were leading in the second quarter by 11 at 40-29, what was the plan to get there? Let Miami start off the game up 9, then watch the Heat get bored and start jacking ill-advised three-pointers while you attack the paint to get easy looks, and finally, make sure the Heat go without a field goal for a stretch lasting almost 12 minutes?!

Yeah, definitely not sustainable.

Also, it didn’t hurt that LeBron played less than five minutes in the third due to foul trouble, which allowed him to play all of the fourth and score 17 (!) in the final period to finish things off.

So, two things: First, this was NOT a good game, and was nothing like the tough games in the 90s, right? Low-scoring and close does not equal interesting or exciting hard-nosed playoff basketball.

And second, how easily does the Heat win Game 4, having taken the (admittedly shorthanded and depleted) Knicks’ best shot?

MM: Horrible, awful game. The worst game I’ve seen since Game 7 of the 2010 Finals. Just terrible play, a lack of focus, bad shooting, needless fouls, a mishmash of movement. Sluggish and bad. I think it was like the 90’s, but only because I don’t overromanticize  bad basketball at any level.

I think the Knicks probably win Game 4. The Heat have no reason to let the Knicks win, should be able to coast, just have to not have a complete letdown. So naturally, they’ll let up. Also, two days in New York, with that crew of magazine-interview’in’, fashion-show-appearin’, mega-party-goin’ jokesters? No way the Heat come in fresh. Gentleman’s Sweep for the Heat. Let them win one, you know, to be polite. Melo is LeBron’s friend, after all.

How big was James though, in just choking the life out of New York down the stretch?

BP: I think the Heat got the excessive partying out of their system before this one, especially as evidenced by that first-half scoring drought. Besides, even if they hit the NYC club scene hard before Game 4, are the Knicks really able to do anything about it? Carmelo Anthony was 7-for-23, J.R. Smith was 5-for-18, and Steve Novak only attempted one three-pointer all night. As currently constructed, they simply don’t have the offensive weapons to hang with Miami for 48 minutes, and they certainly don’t have a point guard who can create easy, wide-open looks for the rest of the team.

(Seriously, Baron Davis is still out of breath after that and-1 drive in the first half, and might not recover until the offseason.)

LeBron coming out and scoring 11 straight Miami points to start the fourth was huge. Wade’s run in the third was equally important. A team like New York can’t stop these guys for an entire game, and the way the rest of the top teams in the conference are seeing players go down, Miami is going to have a much easier path to the Finals than expected.

Since the Knicks appear to be done, what do they need to improve upon before next season to actually win a game in the playoffs? In addition to not having their starting, $100 million power forward rip up his hand punching inanimate objects, of course.

MM: I’m not sure there’s much the Knicks can do. They’re flawed at their core. Melo and Amar’e doesn’t work. It was a bad plan conceptually from the start, and they’ve wed themselves to the player it’s harder to find a star to fit around. I’m sure James Dolan will spend some money trying though.

BP: I agree that Melo and Amar’e doesn’t work, but that doesn’t mean it can’t work. Sure, it would require a complete re-design of the offense from the top down, but the Knicks have a lot of money invested in those two, and I don’t see them being able to (or even wanting to) cut ties with either of them over the summer.

What’s clear, though, is that when the Knicks have everyone back healthy, they’ll need a creative, offensively-minded coach to make all of the pieces fit. Someone like Mike D’Antoni might be just the person to … Oh. Right.

  1. Mr. Wright 212 - May 3, 2012 at 11:15 PM

    The Knicks were fine until the sequence where Joel Anthony did to JR Smith EXACTLY what Chandler did to James (and got a flagrant two). Anthony gets NOTHING.

    The game changer was that embarrassing screw-up by the refs in waving off Novak’s 3 and the and one for Chandler on the FLOP by Battier that was actually called a blocking foul on him (surprised — the one time the refs actually call the Heat for a foul, it NEGATES a momentum-changing 3 ball SMH).

    The Knicks were right there before that. After that, I don’t think there was a solid possession the rest of the game; and only 6 or 7 points. Momentum is something — especially when the REFS SWING IT WITH OBVIOUSLY BLATANT ONE-SIDED OFFICIATING.

    But you can’t place blame on officiating for 19% shooting for an entire quarter. Just that those two calls killed every bit of momentum the Knicks had during the 4th quarter.

  2. 1972wasalongtimeago - May 3, 2012 at 11:34 PM


    • iknowzeroaboutsports - May 4, 2012 at 9:23 AM

      The Bobcats could beat the Knicks in a seven game series.

      • 1972wasalongtimeago - May 4, 2012 at 10:01 AM

        It isn’t about the Knicks. The Knicks are nothing. Are we playing the Knicks? They are only the first four. Nothing else.

      • iknowzeroaboutsports - May 4, 2012 at 11:21 AM

        Whose “we”? Are you suiting up?

      • 1972wasalongtimeago - May 4, 2012 at 11:28 AM

        Yes. My actual identity is Juwon Howard.

  3. martbear - May 3, 2012 at 11:38 PM

    I have no dog in this fight, but it looked to me like the whole game poor Carmelo was having to fight for his life on offense just to catch the ball inside the free throw line. Battier and LeBron were pulling, poking, prodding, and downright mauling him all night. On defense, he was tired and ineffective, especially in the crucial 4th quarter. At one point, after spending 15 seconds with Battier on one end (that if it had taken place in a bar, would’ve been broken up by the cops) he was called for a foul for simply bumping LeBron without the ball. As the teams reset for the next play the camera cut to ‘Melo asking a ref “How is that any different from what just happened down there?”

    I don’t think New York had a chance in this series, but I’ve been severely disappointed with the refereeing thus far. Miami’s “excellent” defense seems to me simply the product of being allowed to hammer their opponent to prevent posting up. Disappointing.

    • datkiidjc - May 4, 2012 at 12:22 AM

      cry a lil more ?? dont tell me your a knicks fan

      • martbear - May 4, 2012 at 12:48 AM

        Nope, Lakers. Don’t care about either of these teams, just watching cause it’s playoff basketball.
        I think the Heat are a better team and should win, I just feel the series hasn’t been called fairly. But by all means write off my opinion as crying, god knows no one really gives a shit.

    • diabloryno - May 4, 2012 at 8:27 AM

      So they were calling bad fouls on ‘Melo, but LeBron (5 fouls) and Wade (I believe, 4 fouls) were just playing bad defense and fouling? You might not have a dog in this fight but you are clearly biased. They called a tight game which lead to players getting in foul trouble.

      The ref sure didn’t have a say in Carmelo going 7-23 from the floor and J.R. Smith going 5-18.

    • 808raiderinparadise - May 4, 2012 at 4:20 PM

      K, a few simple things about the NBA.

      If you maintain blanket defense and hold contact with your man, they let you a play a bit … if you play off your man and play terrible defense (like MELO) then when you come up to make contact players are trained to absorb it with a back-step, flop, bend back, anything to sell it to the reffs.

      Simple & basic rules of defense, thats why you don’t see great defenders fouling out …. but the lazy defenders that play off, then come up to reach in our bump with contact get the whistle.

      The HEAT played great defense yesterday, swallowing up space on the ball and forcing the wings to come to the back top of the 3 point line just to make a pass …. if you watched the shot-clock it drained on the knicks before they could even get 2 passes in.

      You have no arguement, you should be crying about MELO being hearltess, he simply plays the game, he doesn’t do anything outside of shoot that helps himself or the team. He cried his way out of Denver to be in NYC and play @ MSG and Knicks fans deserve a warrior not a mild all-star.

  4. iknowzeroaboutsports - May 3, 2012 at 11:46 PM


  5. mungman69 - May 4, 2012 at 1:33 AM

    It’s over

  6. rosesacl - May 4, 2012 at 2:04 AM

    oh the agony!!! savor this moment Miami Heat fans because you won’t be able to experience this again for another full year.

  7. cmbailey7384 - May 4, 2012 at 3:11 AM

    Really? No ones going to say it? Alright, here goes: if Jeremy Lin was healthy, the Knicks would be up 3-0 on the Heat right now, they need Linsanity!!

    Kidding, kidding, don’t down vote me to oblivion

    • heat256 - May 4, 2012 at 9:35 AM

      Willis Reed, at his age, would probably be an upgrqade to what the Knicks are rolling out right now. They have no fight in them. They have the “happy to be here” look. And you will lose and lose bad if that’s your motivation.

    • heat256 - May 4, 2012 at 9:35 AM

      Willis Reed, at his age, would probably be an upgrade to what the Knicks are rolling out right now. They have no fight in them. They have the “happy to be here” look. And you will lose and lose bad if that’s your motivation.

    • heat256 - May 4, 2012 at 9:35 AM

      Sorry for the double post

  8. clevelandschronic2 - May 4, 2012 at 3:39 AM

    How can this be?? No way Ny would lose they have melo chandler and stoudemire(for gm1) Ny never loses at anything. I guess overpaying and trading the team for melo and then amnesty bbbbbbbbillups for chandler cant buy you a title. No playoff wins since like 98 and you struggled to get the 7th seed lmao Ny is a joke and it will only continue while u have jello( new name for melo cuz hes as soft as jello) enjoy being bottom feeders cuz 7th seed is as good as its gonna get!!!!

    • cassmoney - May 4, 2012 at 4:53 AM

      I am pretty sure their last win was in the 200 playoffs. Not a Knicks fan at all, but I’d atleast know my facts before trying to make a point.

      • cassmoney - May 4, 2012 at 4:54 AM

        Sorry, 2001.

    • jimeejohnson - May 4, 2012 at 11:06 AM

      NY football GIANTS!

  9. marlin1894 - May 4, 2012 at 6:59 AM

    I can’t believe I read that whole conversation. I want my two minutes back.

  10. nokoolaidcowboy - May 4, 2012 at 6:59 AM

    Carmelo Bartholomew Horatio Anthony cannot carry the Knicks. The “Lin” Knicks were younger guns on the court. The ball passed around so much the opposition did not know where the shots were coming from. But this Knicks team HAS to get the ball to Anthony and then clear out for isolation.

    Anthony can shoot, and if he were more humble he would be the first to admit they need to go back to more ball distribution. Why not? He’ll get his shots regardless.

    Also, what is up with the rims this year? It must get wider from stadium to stadium, the height of the rim changing and they level them by sight. Because these guys cannot hit free throws. Free throws! Sheesh, Coach Woodson should be embarrassed with the horrible preparedness at the free throw line and their stamina.

    With all that said, The Heat are were they are because they are getting it done. No way the Knicks are winning 4 in a row and they know it. These guys are ready for the off season. Win 1 and they prolong the inevitable.

    – Pragmatic Knicks Fan

  11. truthhurtstoo - May 4, 2012 at 7:29 AM

    knicks are losers. get ready for a sweep. you don’t belong

  12. sel056 - May 4, 2012 at 8:48 AM

    As a long suffering knicks fan, i have a few things to say.

    First of all, while you can accuse knicks fans of hopefulness and wild expectations to the point of delusion sometimes, miami fans generally seem to post malicious and cold spirited comments that serve nothing but to show how awful some of these fans are. Really. What are these comments? Yes you have a better team and better top three and have blown us away with your skill but seriously there is absolutely no respect i feel for your team. The manner in which that team was put together, the tattoo on your mans back, the stupid mouthguard, the disgusting and unnecessary flops he consistently performs while crying to the refs while up 20 points… I respect his skill. Not his character. And wat fans I have met, ever, honestly suck.

    Now that thats out of the way- what can the knicks do to become legit title contenders? Because that is the goal, always, for every team. And there are definitely management and executive mistakes that have really screwed with the team, to say it mildly.

    First off, coaching. Woody is great. I really love the guys coaching preplayoffs. Defensive. What a difference that makes. Now what the hell happened in the playoffs? No defense. But more importantly, not one discernible play other than “get melo the ball” can be seen anywhere throughout the game. No ball movement. No flow. Nothing asked of the role players. Cmon you give novak the ball only 6-7 times total throughout the series?? Please correct that number, i hope i exaggerated. More plays. More offensive plays. Seriously. No plays for amare? Inexcusable. The man runs on plays. And hits at a high clip when set up right. Cmon woody.

    Team structure. You have one great center in tyson chandler. He is not to be questioned, traded, or talked about here. Hes amazing. You have a superb power forward. And a great one. Why do you have two of them? Trade amare for a good sf. Probably cant happen, but trades like this are always done. Hes a great pf, but just dont fit no more. You need someone with offense + defense. Not allstar necessarily but good. Or at least give amare a good pg (lin is one) with PLAYS. Next up is JR. I actually like him. Handles the ball relatively well as a pg even, and all he needs is some education on shot selection. If you noticed, hes gotten better. The rest of the team should not be touched. Landry, shump, novak have all showed promise as great role players- but they need plays. Thats woody.

    Ok, now that thats

  13. wtfmeng - May 4, 2012 at 9:46 AM

    another pitiful first round exit for the Knicks…

  14. daniel10017 - May 4, 2012 at 10:27 AM

    The Knicks stink worse than rotten eggs and deadly farts.

  15. omniusprime - May 4, 2012 at 10:53 AM

    The Snickerbockers are the garbage team of the NBA playoffs. But what can one expect from a team with Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin? This is the reason why the Eastern Creampuff Conference is the laughing stock of the NBA. Only in the tough Western Conference do we have three championship caliber teams, the Lakers, Spurs and Thunder while only the Heat has a chance to reach the Finals in the East. Go Kobe!!! Go Lakers!!!!

  16. xyxyxx - May 4, 2012 at 11:03 AM

    Love all the knick bashing posts, must be playoff time cuz that’s when heat fans, if you want to call them that, decide to come out. Not gonna make excuses, heat are the better team but not the best team. Cannot wait to hear the crap coming out heat fans mouths when they don’t win the title, get the diapers ready

  17. canehouse - May 4, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    The faithful of Sadison Square Garden did their best last night… great environment… other than Spike Lee… how is it that he gets away with some of the classless garbage he does.

  18. canehouse - May 4, 2012 at 12:20 PM



  19. southbeachtalent - May 4, 2012 at 1:33 PM

    I guess those A-Hole chants didn’t work.. Unless if they were for Amare?

    NY just ooozes class.

    Get that broom ready…

    What is that now 4,023 days since the last Knicks play-off victory? Nice..

  20. dysraw1 - May 5, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    well ok lets say the heat have it they beat us hands down is that the worst that could happen, hell yeah

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