Perkins: It’s looking like Heat vs. Knicks in East finals

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heat small logoknicks small logoMIAMI – There’s nothing more we need to see from the LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat.

We’ve seen everything we need to see until the playoffs. James and Wade have earned their rest; the Heat have answered the questions.

The New York Knicks (47-26), on the other hand, despite being the NBA’s hottest team with their nine-game winning streak, still have many unanswered questions. But solutions seem to be emerging, and they could be leading us to a Heat-Knicks matchup in the Eastern Conference finals.

Forward Carmelo Anthony is doing his part to make that happen.

Anthony was absolutely incredible Tuesday night, tying a career-best with 50 points in the Knicks’ 102-90 victory over the Heat at AmericanAirlines Arena.

“I felt it today,” Anthony said. “Regardless of who suited up, we wanted to win this basketball game.”

Melo has his New York Knicks charging toward a possible playoff matchup with the Miami Heat.

Melo has his New York Knicks charging toward a possible playoff matchup with the Miami Heat.

Melo was unstoppable, hitting seven 3-pointers while going 18-for-26 from the field. I can’t recall a layup or dunk.

Melo’s performance is the reason the Knicks are on their longest winning streak since 1993-94, when they won 15 consecutive games. Melo’s performance is the reason the Knicks ended the Heat’s 17-game home winning streak. And Melo’s performance is the reason the Knicks are 17 games over .500 for first time since 1996-97 season.

But the Knicks, as well as they’re playing, still have some proving to do:

–Are they good enough to maintain the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs?

–Are they good enough to win a second-round playoff series?

–And the biggest question of all, are the Knicks good enough to beat the Heat (58-16) in a best-of-seven series?

New York, which seems destined for its first 50-win season and first division title since 1994, entered Tuesday’s game with good health and bad intentions.

Anthony, who hit his first seven shots en route to a 27-point first half, set the tone for New York, which saw center Tyson Chandler (neck) return after a 10-game absence.

Anthony’s prowess showed why the Knicks are such a threat in a series. He can carry a team.

And while he was burying 3-pointers from everywhere on the court, the Knicks clamped down defensively and stalled the Heat’s halfcourt offense.

Granted, Heat point guard Mario Chalmers (ankle) sat out along with Wade (ankle) and James (hamstring), so everything should be kept in proper perspective.

But the Knicks, who trailed, 58-50 at halftime, did what they had to do. Guard J.R. Smith delivered the knockout punch with a 3-pointer to give New York a 99-88 lead with 1:47 remaining.

It was an incredibly efficient fourth quarter (the Knicks outscored the Heat, 24-14), the type that makes you think New York could do some damage against anyone in the East aside from Miami.

“They took it to another level and we weren’t able to get to that level in the fourth quarter,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

The Knicks can’t beat the Heat in a series. We know that. They’re simply not good enough.

But winning 50 games, getting the Atlantic Division title and winning a second-round playoff series would qualify as a wildly successful season for New York.

The Knicks can get hot. The nine-game winning streak is showing that. Individual players can get hot, too. Smith showed that last week with his three consecutive 30-point games. Melo has showed it all season.

The ability to get hot is a tremendous help in the playoffs, where back-to-back victories can sometimes swing a series.

Lately the Knicks have resembled the team that started 18-5 rather than the injury-slowed team that went 20-21 in between the hot start and the current hot finish.

Looking at this current version of the Knicks you’d have to think given reasonable health they could probably beat Chicago, Indiana, Brooklyn or Atlanta in a second-round series.

The Knicks are old, but they’re still deep and talented. If frontcourt players such as Amare Stoudemire, Chandler, and Kurt Thomas can get healthy and stay healthy there’s a chance the Knicks could create some excitement.

Among Melo, Smith, Chandler, Stoudemire, Iman Shumpert, Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd, Steve Novak, Pablo Prigioni, Kenyon Martin, Chris Copeland and Thomas the Knicks appear solid.

New York isn’t good enough to beat the Heat. But I’m again starting to think the Knicks are good enough to win a second-round series and likely face Miami in the Eastern Conference finals.

Chris Perkins is a veteran Miami-based sports journalist who covers the Heat for SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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  1. As a Knicks fan I simply would love nothing more then to see them beat Miami in a playoff series and bring home the NBA Finals Trophy after that. But being 3-1 vs Miami in the regular season means little unless we forget that in 2010 the Bulls were 4-0 vs the Heat in the regular season until the Heat starting flashing traps on Rose all over the court and the Bulls didnt have enough secondary offense to pull off a series win. Coincidentally lack of a consistent secondary scorer is what those 2010 Bulls and these Knicks share in common. Granted Melo is a different type of scorer then Rose but lets give the Heat credit. Theyre a tremendously talented teams with the best player in the league and two players in Wade and Bosh that would be #1 options on 20+ teams. Battier is a very good defender as well. I do give my Knicks a chance and Id love nothing more but dont base it on regular season success vs Miami. That has proven to be a fallacy.

  2. I’m so sick of the excuse Miami didn’t have their two most talented players last night. When the Knicks beat the Heat by 20 earlier this season without Stat and Melo what did the have to say then? Fact is Knicks should have won all four games against the Heat this season ( they outscored them by 46 points) and are 5-1 against the two alleged best teams in league this season with a very impressive 3-0 record. The Knicks will be OK. #knickstape

  3. Knicks will be the underdog and its gonna be a fight no matter what. But if Chandler can get healthy, Melo does what Melo does and JR play the way he’s been playin’ recently. With a little luck Knicks can beat The Heat. Believe Knicks fans!!! http://tinyurl.com/GoingtotheKnicksGame

  4. Yeah… the team that beat the season series with the Heat 3-1 can’t beat the Heat in the Finals.

    Will they? Don’t know… that’s why you play the games, as they say. They’ll certainly be the underdog if such a matchup came to be.

    But simply on the question of *could they*? Yeah, they definitely *could*

    I don’t get this website’s coverage of the Knicks sometimes. The Heat are Perkins beat – so he gets a pass for this biased commentary. But if it’s not an Knicks article like this one, then it’s something similar from the guy who gets paid by SNY to cover the Nets.

    Smh….

  5. Jermaine says:

    Carmelo Anthony has the worst playoff winning percentage of all time. Lets see him do something in the playoffs before penciling the Knicks in the East finals even after that impressive 12 point victory over a Lebron and Wade less Heat.

  6. Awww look who's scared. says:

    This article is written by a biased NY hater from Florida. Knicks are good enough to beat the incredibly incomplete team known as the Miami Heat. Don’t cry when it happens. ;)

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