In some ways, he was right. On Monday night, the Knicks actually competed with the Heat and kept Game 2 close, but in the end, they would lose, 104-94. The Knicks now trail the Heat 0-2 in their best-of-seven series and are faced with a must-win Game 3 on Thursday night.
To make matters worse for the Knicks, they are expected to be without Stoudemire for Game 3, and perhaps the rest of the series. After the game, Stoudemire was seen leaving the American Airlines Arena with his arm in a sling. After the loss, as he made his way from the court back to the Knicks’ lockeroom, Stoudemire reportedly punched through the glass of a fire extinguisher case and suffered a lacerated hand. He was stitched up but is not expected to be available for Game 3. According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, he may have an X-Ray.
In the game, the Knicks desperately missed Iman Shumpert’s perimeter defense and Tyson Chandler is still battling the flu.
In the end, they were unable to keep the Heat out of the paint. And in the end, Dwyane Wade’s 25 points paced the Heat to the 10 point victory. On Thursday night, the Heat will attempt to put the Knicks in an 0-3 hole, so the season will all come down to this: Win Game 3.
As a franchise, the Knicks have now lost 12 consecutive playoff games. And together, Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony are still looking for their first playoff win since joining forces in New York.
Dwyane Wade led the way for the Heat, hitting eight of his first ten shots and ending the game with 25 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists. LeBron James contributed 19 points, 6 rebounds, and 8 assists.
For the Knicks, Carmelo Anthony responded to his 11 point performance in Game 1 by scoring 30 points—including 15 in the first quarter. But after shooting 9-18 in the first half, Anthony managed to go just 3-8 in the second. He grabbed 9 rebounds but managed only a single assist.
Stoudemire (18 points, 7 rebounds) attempted just five shots through the first 42 minutes of the game and wasn’t much of a factor. Many believe that was the source of his frustration. With Chandler limited by the flu, the Heat consistently attacked the basket and scored in the paint en route to shooting 52 percent from the field.
Chandler converted a dunk with 1:37 remaining in the third quarter to cut the Heat lead to four, 68-72. From there, however, the Heat forced the Knicks into contested looks on the perimeter while attacking the basket and hitting 9-21 from behind the arc. The Knicks entered the fourth quarter trailing by 11 points and would never get closer than nine.
In the fourth, the Heat led by as 15 and the Knicks couldn’t muster the kind of comeback that Chris Paul’s Clippers made on Sunday night.
What I Kinda Liked:
- Tyson Chandler, though still battling the flu, gave the Knicks what he could. He dropped in 13 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. Although he didn’t seem to be his normal self, he was clearly better than Game 1 and was attentive and springy on the defensive end. The Knicks can only hope that he’s close to 100 percent by Thursday’s Game 3.
- Baron Davis (12 points, 6 assists) played 22 minutes in the second half and converted some difficult jumpers.
- The Knicks managed to outrebound the Heat, 40-33, and turned the ball over just 13 times after coughing it up 24 times in Game 1. If those trends continue, they should give themselves a chance to win Game 3, especially since the series shifts back to New York.
What I Didn’t Like:
- Carmelo Anthony can’t beat the Heat by himself. He managed just 1 assist and took 26 shots. Most of the passes he made were around the perimeter, and he rarely gave the ball to a teammate who was in scoring position. “Iso-Melo” will not be an effective long-term plan for beating the Heat.
- Landry Fields continues to struggle and was minus-15 in 18 mostly forgettable minutes.
- Amar’e Stoudemire was rather uninvolved on the offensive end. He didn’t receive a pick and roll pass from Anthony until 7:30 was remaining in the fourth quarter, and he’s far too important to the Knicks’ success to not have been featured earlier.
- The Knicks’ offense was stagnant and featured far too many dribble-pull up possessions. They’ll need movement and passing to open shooters to extend this series.
NBA playoff series are decided in Games 3 and 4, not Games 1 and 2. Anthony will have a one-on-one advantage over almost every small forward in the NBA not named LeBron James. It’s just unfortunate for the Knicks that their path to the second round will have to go through Miami.
In Game 3, Anthony will have to do a better job of creating opportunities for his teammates, especially if Stoudemire is out. There’s no way that the Knicks will be able to patch the gaping hole on the perimeter that Shumpert’s injury has created, so their best bet might be to try to speed up the pace a bit, attack the Heat’s defense early, and create more spot up opportunities for Steve Novak and J.R. Smith. The three pointers tend to fall a bit more frequently in Madison Square Garden.
There’s a lot at stake in Game 3. In addition to attempting to avoid the the insurmountable 0-3 hole, the Knicks will look to avoid the dubious distinction of losing the most consecutive NBA Playoff games in history (13). With Stoudemire expected to be out, all eyes will be on Anthony. Let’s see how he responds.