The NBA’s regular season is long, games in December don’t matter, etc. These adages are true, but sometimes we run into early-season games that make us scratch our heads, laugh out loud, or a combination. With a final score of 112-92, The New York Knicks’ 20-point ousting of the Miami Heat falls into that last category. PG Raymond Felton led the way with 27 points and seven assists while LeBron paced the Heat with 31 points, 10 boards and nine dimes.
Make no mistake: the Knicks are a good team, one that should finish the season as the East’s number two seed. But take Carmelo Anthony out of that starting lineup, and this should’ve been a laugher, pitting the Heat’s formidable starting lineup against one that includes such world-beaters as Kurt Thomas and Ronnie Brewer. Why, exactly, did this happen?
1. Dwyane Wade needs to step up. When this team is clicking on all cylinders – specifically, when Wade is penetrating and creating shots for others, rather than falling in love with his jump shot – it just can’t be beat. But losing to the Washington bleeping Wizards and the Knicks sans Carmelo back-to-back isn’t a good look, no matter where we are in the season. Without Wade doing his thing and giving LeBron some support, Miami’s insane offensive potential plummets.
2. Mike Woodson is coaching his ass off. From a talent perspective, the Knicks seem like a team with one true star, and several outstanding role players. Thanks to smart, precise ball movement, though, the team’s deadly three-point shooters found open looks all night against Miami, even without a star like Carmelo who demands attention on the floor. Their final long range numbers? An insane 18-44. Woodson played to his team’s greatest (and, until Anthony gets back, only) offensive strength, and his team walked away with a 20-point victory.
Read as far into this game as you’d like. It’s only December and nobody’s saying the Miami won’t be the number one seed in the East. But this is a team with some problems to iron out before they get there, just as New York currently deserves as much respect as any team in the league. And let’s be honest: it’s always fun to kick the Heat when they’re down.