GAME 2 EASTERN CONFERENCE ROUND 1: Knicks @ Heat 7:00 PM
Where to Watch: MSG
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
New York: Murphy’s Law certainly seemed applicable to Saturday’s game for the Knicks. Tyson Chandler battled flu-like symptoms and was nowhere near himself, Iman Shumpert suffered a torn ACL and lateral meniscus tear, Baron Davis dealt with back issues, and Mike Bibby tweaked his ankle. Chandler, Davis, and Bibby should be ready for Game 2 but Shumpert is out for approximately 6-8 months, which is a big loss for New York. Shumpert is a versatile guard with some of the best on-ball defensive skills in the entire league. As the playoffs move along, the Knicks had to focus on Game 2 at Sunday’s practice without Shumpert on the floor. Chandler was unable to attend Sunday’s practice and stayed at the team hotel to rest. Davis is listed as a gametime decision but the point guard told reporters he will play on Monday night. The squad will hold a shootaround session prior to the Game 2 contest in which interim head coach Mike Woodson will most likely have a better idea of his starting lineup.
Miami: The Heat waltzed out of American Airlines Arena unscathed after the big home victory on Saturday night. Miami also used the time on Sunday to practice on its home floor and prepare for Game 2.
Last Time Out
Game 1 – Miami 100 New York 67: The Heat exploded on a 22-2 run while outscoring the Knicks 30-13 in the second quarter to take a commanding 54-31 lead at halftime. 16 New York turnovers in the first 24 minutes of the contest plagued the team in its attempt to steal a game in a hostile environment. LeBron James scored 23 of his game-high 32 points in the first half to help secure a dominant 100-67 win at home. Carmelo Anthony was held to 11 points and Amar’e Stoudemire posted nine in the defeat.
The Numbers Game
The Knicks have shown some incredible resiliency under interim head coach Mike Woodson. New York is 6-0 following a loss and the team has won by an average margin of 11.2 points per game with Woodson at the helm.
Match-up to Watch
Carmelo Anthony vs. LeBron James
Miami implemented a different defensive strategy in Game 1 against Anthony. James was the primary defender on the Knicks All-Star and he fronted Anthony in the post position. The Heat’s frontline defenders quickly rotated from the back side to negate any lob passes over the top and forced difficult entry attempts into Anthony for isolation situations. The Knicks will search for alternative spots on the floor for Anthony to operate on Monday night. One would expect the league’s Player of the Month to find a scoring solution and work his way to the free throw line for some easy buckets. On the opposite side, James was spectacular in his relentless attack in the paint and efficient shooting on the perimeter. Collectively, New York will have to close driving lanes on James and turn him into a deep jump shooter in Game 2.
What to Look For
Free throw shooting was a major factor in Saturday’s loss for the Knicks. Miami reached the charity stripe 33 times and James was 11-of-14 in the win. Anthony and Stoudemire were the only New York players to attempt free throws as they finished 10-of-11 at the line. On the surface, the game was a blowout in terms of the final score but the Knicks only trailed by three points with 4:54 remaining in the first half. Despite all the struggles from Anthony and Stoudemire, the team was in striking distance at the stage of the contest. Obviously, Anthony and Stoudemire need to find their offensive rhythm to counter the explosive capabilities of James and Dwyane Wade.