Since about half way through the second quarter of the New York Knicks/Miami Heat first round series, it has been a punchline. A Knicks team bogged down in injuries and incompetence mercifully waiting to have their season ended amid questions about Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, the future of the point guard position, Mike Woodson and just about every other component of the organization.
Those questions aren’t going anywhere and will likely be revisited this Thursday morning when the heavily favored Heat should be preparing for their second round opponent. However, yesterday the Knicks and their fans were finally given a long overdue playoff moment to enjoy. The record breaking 13 game losing streak came to an end and for one afternoon, the Knicks big three of Anthony, Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler was superior to the Dream Team’s big three of LeBrom James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.The Eastern Conference is weak. By the time next season comes around it will be the Heat and everybody else. Derrick Rose won’t be back until the middle of next season and Luol Deng will be recovering from wrist surgery, casting doubts over the Bulls. Boston will be yet another year older. Who knows what will happen in Orlando. Indiana, Atlanta and Philadelphia will likely remain good but certainly nowhere near great.
The general core of this Knicks roster isn’t going anywhere. When the dust settles, the line of thinking will revolve around Mike Woodson having a full off-season and training camp to implement his system, while Jeremy Lin, Chandler, Stoudemire and Anthony will have the needed time to perfect their chemistry. Outside of Miami, who will have a better top four in the East than the Knicks next season?
That is the glass half full logical, which will rightly be met with skepticism. There is no sustained evidence to show that this collection of players can function together and that they can survive with such erratic two guard and bench play. As of now, the evidence points to a Anthony led team being unable to win a championship.
Yet, for one day there was hope. There was hope that LeBron and Wade won’t reign supreme without breaking a sweat the next five years. There was the sight of Anthony being good enough to carry a team in the playoffs. There was Stoudemire throwing up a double-double and playing defense. There was Chandler stomping around the paint like a Defensive Player of the Year should.It gave us a day to enjoy the Knicks and three more days to humor ourselves with the what if of Miami having to come back to MSG for Game 6, where there would be one of the most epic crowds in recent MSG history.
I wouldn’t bank on Jeremy Lin playing and if he does, it isn’t going to be for more than 10-12 minutes. There is no miracle coming off the bench at this point, it is just Anthony, Stoudemire, Chandler and whatever everybody else can muster up.