Wait until next year. That is a slogan that Chicago Cubs fans have had to live by for over 100 years. Knicks fans will be singing those words this year. The Miami Heat rolled in to Madison Square Garden, played their worst half of basketball of the season in Thursday’s 1st half, and beat down New York anyway, 87-70. Chris Bosh almost missed the game due to the birth of his baby, LeBron James sat out almost the entire 3rd quarter due to foul trouble, and at one point Miami trailed by double-digits. But again, it didn’t matter because the Knicks, at least this year, are not in the same league as the Heat.
During the game there were glimpses of hope for New York. They went on a 9-0 run to end the 1st quarter. That run continued in to the 2nd until they a Miami free throw made it 14-1. This game had runs by both teams, but in the end it was about defense. The Knicks held the Heat to under 43% from the floor. That would be a good number except that Miami’s defense was better. New York shot 32% from the field. The two leading scorers for the Knicks, Melo and J.R. Smith, combined to go 12-41 from the floor. The Heat’s defense also shut down 3pt hero Steve Novak, who didn’t hit a single basket and only had two attempts all night. For all of the talk about New York being better without Amare Stoudemire, their offense could have used him tonight.
Miami’s offense was far from great, but they don’t have to be against a lower quality opponent like the Knicks. As TNT Analyst Reggie Miller pointed out, Coach Eric Spoelstra has a luxury that most coaches don’t have. When LeBron has to leave the game for an extended period of time, he can have Dwyane Wade carry the load, and vice-versa. Both of these guys were great in the 2nd half, but actually the most efficient player for Miami was Mario Chalmers, who scored 19 points while going 5-8 from beyond the arc. Rio also managed to grab 7 rebounds on Thursday night. Thats a big number for a point guard who really doesn’t play point most of the time. Wade and James handle the ball most of the time, and I think you’ll see that continue throughout the playoffs.
The Heat will go for the sweep on Sunday afternoon, and barring a 50-point miracle from Carmelo Anthony, they will get it. For Miami, they just need balance and efficiency from their superstars and they will go to the NBA Finals. Winning the Finals will require a better effort from all of the alleged “Big 3″, but the play of the team as a whole has looked better during the early stages of the playoffs. And of course, while the national spotlight will be on Bron for the duration, the key to the NBA Championship lies in the play of his teammates.
About the Author
Written by Sean Eckhardt
Univ of Alabama alumni. Born and raised outside Chicago, IL. Currently live in Florida. Some of my favorite teams include the Chicago Cubs, Minnesota Vikings, Miami Heat, and the Florida Panthers. My interests outside of sports include music, outdoor activities, and anything with a motor(cars, bikes, boats, etc...).