Friday, April 27, 2012

New York Knicks vs. Miami Heat Position Match-Ups: Shooting Guard

This is the second installment in a series of posts breaking down the match-ups between the Knicks and Heat position by position.  The second match-up we will take a look at the shooting guard position.

Match-up: Iman Shumpert vs. Dwayne Wade

This will be quite a match-up to watch throughout the series.  Shumpert and Wade are both super athletic and are fun players to watch for a number of reasons.  It will be fun watching them go back and forth.

Shumpert will excel in this match-up in one-on-one defense.  Mike Woodson has been quoted as saying that Shumpert “changes the game from a defensive standpoint.”  Shumpert led the Knicks with 1.7 steals per game, good for second among rookies and seventh in the NBA.  Shumpert is a great all-around defender, but is dominant in two areas specifically.

The first is on the perimeter.  Shumpert is harasses players on the perimeter thanks to a 6’5” 220 pound super athletic frame.  He has long arms and is always moving making it very difficult for whomever he is guarding on defense.  Shumpert causes players to speed up and become uncomfortable, rushing passes and disrupting their views with his long arms. 

Shumpert can potentially cause Wade to slow down the ball movement because of the visibility issues Shumpert will cause.  This will give the Knicks defense and advantage because they will be able to keep up their rotations and be in position to slow down the Heat.  This plays right into the other area in which Shumpert dominates, which is on help defense. 

With his size, Shumpert has the ability to drop down onto post players, which is valuable because the Knicks do a lot of switching on defense.  He then has the defensive instincts to quickly rotate back to his original player to finish off the full rotation.  Shumpert always has his head on a swivel while playing defense, giving him great instincts and never having a delayed response.  He has great awareness of what is going on around him and guarding Wade, a fellow Chicagoan should only fire up Shumpert even more, as if he didn’t have enough reason to come into the playoffs fired up and with intensity. 

The problem for Shumpert is that Wade is still Wade.  He is a top flight player in the NBA and will give Shumpert all he can handle.  Shumpert is a great defender, but Wade will get his at points in the game.  The Heat have two advantages with Wade over Shumpert.  The first is using the pick-and-roll game.  Wade is not a point guard, but he knows his way around the pick-and-roll game and is very crafty.  He can split the double team and explode to the rim, which will cause problems for the Knicks when Tyson Chandler is not in the middle. 

Second is Wade’s improved post-up game.  Wade and Shumpert are almost identical in size, but Wade is light years ahead of Shumpert basketball wise.  Wade can score from multiple spots on the floor making Shumpert’s assignment that much tougher.  In the post, Wade can cause problems for Shumpert with pump and ball fakes.  Shumpert has to stay on his feet or else he will get killed by Wade and the referees.  Shumpert has to be carefully about how he handles Wade because any close call is going to go his way.

The Heat again have the advantage here.  Even if he is less than 100%, Wade is still better than a majority of the NBA.  Wade is also a great defender in his own right and is ahead of Shumpert obviously on the offensive end.  This is also a position where the Heat have a distinct advantage in playoff experience.  Shumpert, being a rookie, obviously has no playoff experience compared to Wade who will be taking part in his eighth postseason.  Foul trouble will be something Shumpert needs to avoid as he will be responsible for guarding Wade for long stretches at time and will be needed to guard Lebron James at times also.   

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