The NBA Playoffs are finally here and for the second consecutive season the Knicks will be taking part. The Knicks are going to start to rekindle their rivalry with the Miami Heat starting Saturday, April 28th at . Here are 10 things that should get you excited about the first-round match-up with the Heat as if it wasn’t exciting enough to watch your team in the playoffs.
10.) Lebron Comes to
When Lebron James became a free agent in the summer of 2010, he entertained the idea of joining the New York Knicks. We all know how it turned out in the end, with James joining his buddies in
to make a big three with
Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. This upset
many Knicks fans, many of who still hold a grudge to this day. Nothing would make Knick fans happier than
sending James and his buddies home with an early exit in the playoffs and yet
another season without a ring. South
9.) Which J.R. Smith Will Show Up?
Knick fans are starting to realize what Nugget and Hornet fans already knew in that Smith is the definition of a streak shooter. This has resulted in some games in which Smith has been unconscious at the Garden. The night that sticks in most fans minds is the game in which he knocked down seven 3 pointers in a half against the Celtics. On the other hand, there are times where Mike Woodson and Knick fans like are left shaking their heads in disbelief. Smith is a huge x-factor coming off the bench in this series and if he can provide for highlights than head-scratchers it would make an above average Knicks offense that much more potent.
8.) Can the Knicks Grab a Victory?
The Knicks are making their second consecutive trip to the playoffs, but this is only the third time in the last decade they are doing so. They have not won a playoff game, let alone a series, since Jeff Van Gundy was head coach in 2001. A terrible taste was left in the mouth of the Knicks players, staff and fans alike because of a sweep at the hands of the Boston Celtics. Can the Heat provide mouthwash for the Knicks this time around?
7.) Mike Woodson’s Future
Mike Woodson led the Knicks on a ferocious charge after being named interim head coach, going 18-6 to end the season. With the great job he did, Woodson has given himself a legitimate chance of being named the head coach on a full-time basis for next season. Woodson can boost his chances by having the Knicks put on a good performance this postseason. The way to get that done is by having the Knicks show the same defensive intensity they showed throughout the end of the regular season.
6.) Which Amar’e Will Show?
Amar’e Stoudemire had a tough regular season, but was able to end it with a high note against the Bobcats Thursday night, scoring 21 points and throwing down a monster dunk over Tyrus Thomas. Will Stoudemire be able to bring that aggressiveness into the playoff series against the Heat? With Stoudemire sidelined the Knicks were unable to find a consistent scorer behind Carmelo Anthony. Hopefully Stoudemire will fill that role like envisioned when the season started.
5.) Shooting Guard Match-Up, Shumpert vs. Wade
Iman Shumpert lived up to the hype that was surrounding him upon getting drafted as being a defensive stopper. Shumpert has wowed the crowd all season long with his aggressiveness and prowess on the defensive end, finishing seventh in the NBA in steals per game with 1.7. Those steals would more times than not end in a highlight play at the other end. Shumpert will have his hands full in the series against Dwayne Wade. Shumpert will not be able to stop Wade cold in his tracks, but can he at least slow him down some? This will be a fun match-up to watch.
4.) Carmelo Anthony on Fire
The Knicks were carried single-handedly by Anthony to finish the second half of the season once Jeremy Lin and Amar’e Stoudemire went down with injuries. Anthony put up dominant stats throughout the month of April, averaging 29.8 points per game and shooting 49.5% from the field and 46% from 3 point land. The Knicks will need the same effort from Anthony if they have any hope of making some noise against the Heat in the first round.
The defense chants have rang throughout the Garden for years. For the first time in what seems like forever, the Knicks are actually responding to them.
is the reason behind this turnaround. He
defends the paint as well as any big man in the NBA and set the tone for the
Knicks right when he walked through the doors for the first time. The Knicks were a laughing stock on defense
last season, and have made a complete 180 degree turn into a top five defense
this season. Will that play continue
throughout the playoffs?
2.) Bomb Squad
Steve Novak has come out of nowhere to become the most beloved player for the Knicks. Every time he enters the game the crowd gives a loud cheer, and whenever he touches the ball on the court the crowd gets into a feverish buzz. There is good reason for fans to react in such a way, as he shot an unheralded 47% from 3 point range this past season.
1.) Superstar Match-up
Carmelo Anthony and Lebron James have been going at it for years, dating all the way back to their high school days. They are now on the biggest stage of all to showcase their skills in the NBA playoffs. Anthony is playing arguably his best basketball of his career, and it could not have come at a better time for the Knicks. This adds even more intrigue to this match-up because you know Lebron James will come in prepared and ready to go. It is not time for Anthony to show why the Knicks traded all those players for him, and to show James what he is missing when you get a
New York home
crowd behind you.