Tuesday’s game against the Batman- and Robin-less Miami Heat was supposed to be a cakewalk for the surging Knickerbockers.
Instead, it took 50 points from Carmelo Anthony and a full-team scheme to handle the undermanned squad. The contest was nip and tuck until late in the fourth quarter, despite the fact that Erik Spoelstra basically conceded the loss before tip-off.
This game was a tale of two cities. With LBJ, Wade and Mario Chalmers nursing “injuries” – and Miami in the Eastern Conference driver’s seat – continuing a 17-game home winning streak was Miami’s only motivation.
The Heat are playing with house money. The Knicks are just getting their house in order.
With the playoffs looming, the Knicks are healthier and riding a nine-game winning streak. Beating Miami was crucial to building on some serious momentum.
If anything, NY basketball is getting the spark and optimism back that it had when the Knicks started the season 18-5 . Early on, there was championship talk and MVP chatter for ’Melo. The Knicks were playing crazy D, then injuries set in and things went bonkers. Just as the season seemed lost, JR Smith emerged, pre-2000 Kenyon Martin fell out of a tree, and ’Melo’s knees took a Viagra pill.
The inner-city barbershop-chop is turning positive. The NY playgrounds are percolating again. Beating the World Champions is a resumé-booster. The Knicks have done it 75 percent of the time the teams played this season, which is proof that the franchise is back in the NBA rat race, and ’Melo is at the top of his game.
Even in the absence of James and Wade, Anthony’s not going to apologize for eclipsing the 40-point mark for the fourth time in 25 career games against the Heat; or for reminding Shane Battier who his daddy is. The Knicks have 46 wins with 10 games to go. As they march towards their first 50-win season in 12 years, milestones are being reached. The Knicks’ first Atlantic Division title since the ’93-’94 season is in the bag. Who knows what’s next?
The Knicks did a good job antagonizing Miami this season, but beating them in the playoffs is another story. A genie, a lamp and three wishes would do the trick, but that’s not an option in Mike Woodson’s game plan. If analyzed accurately, Tuesday’s game should only dampen the Knicks Kush-induced championship dreams.
Using a patch-work starting lineup, Miami matched the Knicks with Tyson Chandler, shot-for-shot. Mike Miller got busy (18 points). So did Norris Cole (14 points). Was that Rashard Lewis playing ill D?
Big Three? Shoot, Miami has that plus a solid 10, which should lead to its second title.
For Knicks fans, to reach the conference finals and really give Miami some dawg-work would be a Grammy-Award-winning season. Knicks deserters are moving back North and have recently removed the paper bags from their domes. Now they can at least rock their Knicks gear proudly, fist-beat their chest with the Jesus piece swinging wildly, and say, “We back.”