Friday, May 11, 2012

Rangers Offense Struggles In Playoffs

All season long the New York Rangers have played a defense first system, and it worked, getting the Rangers a top seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Now their lack of goal scoring has put them in their second consecutive seven game series.

The Rangers have scored 13 goals this series, and have not scored 4 goals in a game since Game 1 against the Ottawa Senators. The Rangers have scored 3 goals twice this series. It was obvious that this was going to be a low scoring series, but with all the one goal games, the pressure is constantly being put on goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

Lundqvist is an All-World goaltender, but the pressure cannot be put squarely on his shoulders night after night. The Rangers have struggled to get a two-goal lead on the Caps this series. Except for Game 1, the Rangers have never lead by more than one goal.

Game 7 Saturday night looks to be no different from the other six games this series. It will be a tight defensive battle where one bounce could determine the outcome of the game.

The Rangers need to re-focus after their poor outing in Game 6 that saw them get beat in every aspect of the game by the Caps. Pucks to the net, players to the net, and relentless forecheck is what is needed for the Rangers to win Saturday night. This all begins with the Rangers level of intensity. The Caps have been taking the Rangers style and throwing it back in their face, and also with more firepower on offense.

Braden Holtby has been nothing short of stellar this series going 3-0 after losing a game. That also means that the Rangers found a way to beat Holtby in the other three games, The Rangers must get bodies in front of the net and distract Holtby, and not let the Caps block 25-30 shots a game.

And one more thing, shut down Ovechkin, the Caps go when he goes.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

New York Knicks vs. Miami Heat Series Roundup

NBA Playoffs Series Review: 
Miami Heat beat New York Knicks 4-1

The Knicks came into the playoffs riding a hot streak, but were unable to continue their great play against a better Miami Heat team.  Injuries were a concern heading into the post-season for the Knicks and it got worse throughout the series.  The Knicks were unable to build any continuity in this series, starting a different lineup basically every game with a different Knick going down every game or another player being deemed unable to play for the series.  Even with all those problems and knowing what they were up against, the players never gave up; even if at times the execution, aggressiveness and intensity were not at levels they needed to be at.
 Injuries doomed the Knicks from the beginning.  Heading into the playoffs, players like Jared Jeffries and Baron Davis were already nursing nagging injuries.  They gave everything they could, but in the end it was not enough.  It was also not the end of the injuries for the Knicks.  Tyson Chandler developed the stomach flu before Game 1, greatly impacting his performance throughout the series. Game 1 we saw promising rookie Iman Shumpert tear his ACL and lateral meniscus; he is looking at an 8 month rehab.  Game 4 Baron Davis suffered a horrific knee injury, tearing his ACL and MLC in addition to partially tearing his patella.  His career is potentially over, facing a 12 month rehab. Let’s also not forget Amar’e Stoudemire hitting his hand on a fire extinguisher case resulting in a laceration on his left hand that required 15 stitches.  He missed Game 3 because of the injury and is lucky to only miss that as doctors told Stoudemire that he was a millimeter away from hitting a nerve, which would have ended his basketball career on the spot.  These injuries and constant changing of the team was just too much for the Knicks to overcome.
 The Heat just seemed more prepared than the Knicks.  Right from the start of the series, it was evident that the Heat and their coaching staff had made the necessary adjustments.  They changed their defensive approach against the Knicks, specifically, Carmelo Anthony.  The Heat decided to front Anthony, making it difficult for the Knick guards to get Anthony the ball in good spots on the court.  If Anthony did end up with the ball, he was far away from the basket and then faced double and triple teams, forcing him into tough situations.  Mike Woodson and the Knicks were able to figure it out for spurts, but were unable to overcome the Heat as they just seemed to be one step ahead of the Knicks the whole series. 

Another thing that stood out was the play of Steve Novak.  He became a folk hero in New York, knocking down 3 pointer after 3 pointer after being inserted into the rotation.  But his disappearing act in the playoffs was alarming.  Novak managed to only get off nine shots in the five game series.  A lot of this can be credited to the Heat’s stifling defense but it is still worth noting that he got up 17 shots in three regular season games against the Heat.  This was a disappointment for the Knicks, as the Heat were one of the worst teams in the NBA at defending the 3 point shot.  It was an area the Knicks should have thrived in, but instead they floundered; another example of the Heat coaching staff preparing their team better than Mike Woodson and his Knicks staff.  The front office will have a difficult decision to make with Novak this off-season.
The bench had been a strong point for the Knicks all season but did not have the impact in the series as hoped.  Novak, as mentioned earlier, was neutralized by a swarming Heat defense.  J.R. Smith was a gamer, but struggled mightily from the field.  Smith shot 24-76 from the field, good for 31.6% and an even more disappointing 5-28 from 3 point range, good for 17.9%.  One positive for Smith though was, outside of Carmelo Anthony, he was the only player on the Knicks who was able to get his own shot.  They did not fall as often as you’d hope, but he was aggressive and never backed down from tough match-ups with Lebron James and Dwayne Wade.  Smith has said in the past that he will test the free agent market this season, but as a Knicks fan I really hope he is back.  Sure he is immature at times, but he brings it every game and with a little guidance would become an outstanding player.

The defense was not up to the level it needed to be for the Knicks to pull off an upset.  Injuries really set the Knicks back from the beginning of the series.  Jared Jeffries was limited throughout because of a sore knee he was unable to overcome from the regular season.  Jeffries anchored the defense on the 2nd unit and without him they struggled to keep the Heat at bay.  Losing Iman Shumpert in Game 1 was a huge blow as well. Shumpert is quickly becoming one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA, defending the opposing teams’ best players on a nightly basis.  Tyson Chandler being under the weather was the biggest blow.  Since coming over as a free agent this past off-season, Chandler has changed the culture around New York.  He turned the Knicks from a laughing stock on defense the past few seasons into a top 5 defensive team this season.  Without him manning the middle and setting the tone from the beginning of the series, the Knicks were doomed.
In the playoffs the stars are supposed to shine their brightest.  For the Knicks they had the unfortunate draw of having to face three of them in Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh.  Those three outshined the Knicks star duo of Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire.  Outside of a spirited Game 4 performance in which Anthony and Stoudemire combined for 61 points and 16 rebounds, the rest of the series was pretty much lackluster.  Stoudemire struggled with foul trouble and inconsistency, finally blowing up after Game 2 when he suffered the laceration on his hand.  Anthony had 3 big scoring outputs, but they were not the more efficient outings, taking a high number of shots to reach those totals. Anthony was unable to carry the Knicks against a superior Heat squad alone.
 So ends the roller coaster Knicks season.  This season was like a roller coaster that was really hyped up, but ended up falling short of expectations.  There were low points and high points throughout the season.  I am happy as a Knicks fan that they were able to overcome so many distractions throughout the season to make the playoffs, just hoped for a better performance.  The Knicks did end their 13 game playoff losing streak which is something to build off of for next year.

New York Knicks vs. Miami Heat Game 5 Post Game Recap

Final Score: New York Knicks 94 Miami Heat 106

The roller coaster ride of a season has officially come to an end for the Knicks after losing Game 5 in Miami to the Heat 106-94. It was not the best of ways to end the season, as the Knicks trailed by as many as 19 and did not seem to have the intensity and energy of a team that had their backs up against the wall facing elimination. Even when the game was close, it had the feeling of a blow out. Even with that, they did not at any point look like they were giving up, which was a positive. The Knicks became the 103rd out of 103 teams to go down 3-0 and lose the series.

-2 Superstars not better than 3

The Knicks big players Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire were unable to have a repeat performance of Game 4, falling short against the Big 3 that
Miami employs in Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh.

Stoudemire struggled tonight, not having the same impact he had on Game 4. He was in foul trouble throughout the game, picking up his fifth foul with
6:41 remaining in the 3rd quarter and sixth and final foul with 4:48 remaining in the game. He finished with 14 points on 4-7 shooting, adding only four rebounds.

Stoudemire was unable to get into a rhythm in part because of the foul trouble but also because of the defensive strategy the Heat employed. Unlike in Game 4, the Heat forced Stoudemire to dribble and move more in Game 5, making it hard for Stoudemire to gain control and score. They were not allowing Stoudemire to take jump shots, instead forcing him to use his injured hand more than he had wanted.

Anthony started the game slow, but finished with a flurry, not going down without a fight. He played right to the final buzzer, giving the Knicks everything he had. Anthony finished with 35 points on 15-31 shooting, adding eight rebounds. He did everything he could to keep the Knicks in this game, but in the end it was not enough as no one stepped up enough around him.

After a rough start to the series, Anthony responded pretty well in the last few games. He did not provide the Knicks with the series win like fans and teammates had hoped for, but they did end the 13 game playoff losing streak; something to build off of for next season.

-Punchless Bench

The Knicks bench was basically nonexistent tonight. The Knicks bench was outscored by the Heat bench 22-16, something that can not happen if the Knicks wanted to come away with a win.

J.R. Smith struggled mightily tonight from the field, shooting 3-15 for 12 points.  He did not add anything else to the Knicks tonight as he had in the other games in the series, not grabbing a rebound or handing out another assist.  Outside of the point column, Smith put up zeroes across the board.

No one else on the Knicks bench got very many minutes, as Mike Woodson rode the starters heavily.  The other bench players outside of Smith did not really get a chance to make an impact, as Steve Novak, Toney Douglas, Josh Harrellson and Jared Jeffries combined for only about 28 minutes played.  The bench was one of the strengths for the Knicks heading into the playoffs, but was pretty much neutralized by the Heat throughout the series. 

-Defense and Closing out Quarters

The Knicks held the Heat to a low shooting percentage, holding the Heat to 43.6% shooting for the game, but struggled at defending the 3 point line.  The Heat shot 9-19 from the 3 point line, good for 47.4%.  They also allowed the Heat to take 34 free throws, and the Heat knocked them down, hitting 29 of the 34 attempts.
 The closing out of quarters and halves has been a problem for the Knicks all season long, and it reared its ugly head again in Game 5.  With the Knicks closing the gap to three with 2:42 to go, the Knicks crumbled heading into the half.  They were outscored 11-3 the rest of the way, leading to an 11 point Heat lead at the half which was insurmountable for the Knicks this time around.

-Shining Star

Mike Bibby showed up for the Knicks tonight, giving them everything they could ask for a more.  He scored eight quick points in the 1st quarter, knocking down his first two 3 point attempts and another jumper in the corner.  In total, Bibby ended the game with 10 points, six rebounds and five assists.  The Knicks could not have asked for a better performance from Bibby.

Tonight was the end of the Knicks season and the future for the team is murky at best.  This off-season holds a lot of question marks for the future of the staff and roster.  Who will the head coach be? Will the front office be able to resign players like Jeremy Lin, Steve Novak and J.R. Smith? It will be an interesting off-season for the Knicks and their fans.

It was a roller coaster season and I hope you all enjoyed the ride like I did.  Keep checking back throughout the off-season for stories regarding free agency, the NBA Draft and everything else New York Knicks. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

New York Knicks vs. Miami Heat Game 5 Pre-Game News and Notes

Wednesday May 9 7:00 P.M. ET
New York Knicks vs. Miami Heat
Game 5 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals 3-1 Heat Series Lead
The Knicks were able to stave off elimination once Sunday afternoon, and look to do the same tonight in Miami against the Heat. The Knicks will need their big players to step up tonight as the team is again ravaged by injuries. Again facing elimination, the Knicks will need to come out with a lot of energy and intensity to match a Heat team looking to end their season.

-Injury Updates

Baron Davis is facing a 12 month rehabilitation after MRI's on his knee came back worse than expected. Davis suffered tears of his ACL and MCL in addition to a partial tear of his patella tendon. It is a devastating injury for anyone to have, but even worse for someone the age of Davis.

The injury means yet another change will be made to the starting lineup, with Mike Bibby getting the call. He played great in relief of Davis Sunday afternoon in a thrilling Knicks victory and hopes to replicate that performance tonight. Bibby cannot play 40 minutes, so look for Toney Douglas to possible see some playing time, along with J.R. Smith and Carmelo Anthony at times taking over ball handling duties.

Amar'e Stoudemire will also be in the starting lineup again. He suffered no setbacks after Sunday's game, but will still be limited because of the huge wrap he will have to wear on his hand to protect his stitches.

There was a lot of whispers that Jeremy Lin would be back in time to play this series, but that is no longer looking likely. Lin says his knee does not feel more than 85% strong, so he is not willing to push it. He is more than likely out for the remainder of the series. This is a smart move on Lin's part and by the team, as the future outlook of Lin is much more important that a game or two this series against Miami.

-Bench Needs To Produce

The Knicks will need a spark from their bench tonight if they want to compete. The Knicks bench is much more potent than the Heat bench with J.R. Smith and Steve Novak. They will need big performances from those two on the offensive side of the ball to keep this series alive.

Another person to keep an eye on off the bench if Josh Harrellson. He provides energy and toughness to a second unit that is lacking because of all the injuries. One area Harrellson helps a lot is on the defensive end of the court and the glass. With Jared Jeffries still nursing an injured knee, he has not been able to have the impact the Knicks had hoped for on the series. Harrellson is capable of providing that impact and more if given the opportunity.

-Bibby Turns Back the Clock

Mike Bibby will be making the start tonight and for the foreseeable future for the Knicks after the Knicks have lost Jeremy Lin, Iman Shumpert and Baron Davis all to injury. He will shoulder the point guard duties tonight for the most part. The veteran presence that Bibby brings to the court is a good addition to the Knicks. He will fill the void left by Davis while also being able to still control the offense. The only extended minutes Bibby has received was in Game 4 over the weekend and he stepped up huge for the Knicks, knocking down clutch shots in the 4th quarter. The Knicks have to hop for much of the same tonight if they want to get the series back to New York for Game 6.

-Stars Stepping Up

Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire combined for a monster game Sunday afternoon, and the Knicks will need more of the same tonight. They should go to their offensive juggernauts early and often and try to get them going right from the start.

Anthony carried this team to the playoffs without a consistent sidekick throughout the month of April. The Knicks will count of him to set the tone for the offense as they run everything through him. If Mike Woodson and his staff are able to tweak their game plans by getting Anthony into better positions to score for himself and set up his teammates it would greatly help the team.

Stoudemire gave a spirited effort on Sunday afternoon, showing a lot of heart playing through the self-inflicted injury on his left hand. He was aggressive on the boards and gave great effort on the defensive end even though he was limited. The Knicks will need another game like that from Stoudemire to help take pressure off Anthony on the offensive end and Tyson Chandler on the defensive end and on the glass. Stoudemire has become the x-factor for this team; if he plays well tonight, the Knicks have no reason to think they will not be playing Friday night back at the Garden.

Game 6 is on Henrik Lundqvist

The New York Rangers grabbed a 3-2 series lead on the Washington Capitals Monday night with a remarkable comeback victory that ended with an overtime goal by Marc Staal.

The Rangers have the series lead even though their All-Star goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist, has not played up to his potential. Lundqvist has made some tremendous saves this series, like his glove save robbing Alexander Ovechkin's redirection, but he has also let in a few soft goals, and some fluke goals.
In Game 2 Lundqvist misplayed a dump in off the boards and the puck went off of Ryan McDonagh and in. The Rangers lost the game 3-2.

In Game 4 Alexander Ovechkin ripped a shot from the high slot. Lundqvist had the shot go off of his glove and fall into the net behind him. Later that game, in the third period, Mike Green took a shot from the point that slipped through Lundqvist's legs and into the net for the game winner. Lundqvist was not screened on either of these shots,but he could not stop them. The Rangers lost the game 3-2.

All season Henrik Lundqvist has bailed the Rangers out of games with great performances highlighted with great saves. Unfortunately, Lundqvist has also been prone to soft goals that he should have stopped. In the playoffs, there is no room for soft goals.

If the Rangers are going to take this series from the Capitals, Lundqvist is going to have to be a stonewall in net. The Capitals are going to come out with desperation right away, and will be throwing as many pucks as they can at Lundqvist. It will be up to Lundqvist to keep his focus, make the saves, and give his team a chance to win.

The Rangers and Caps play tonight at 7:30 pm at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Richards Ties it Late, Staal Wins it in OT
It was another wild night for the New York Rangers and their fans, but the Rangers sent their fans home with and overtime victory.

The New York Rangers were trailing the Washington Capitals 2-1 last night with 28 seconds left on the clock. Joel Ward took a four minute double minor penalty when his stick hit Carl Hagelin in the face and cut him. The Rangers had one last chance to tie the game with a six on four advantage.

Off the face-off the Rangers controlled the puck and it cycled around to Michael Del Zotto at the point and he shot the puck at Ryan Callahan looking for a deflection. After two whacks at the puck by Callahan, Brad Richards chips the puck by Braden Holtby and John Carlson into the net, and sent the Garden crowd into a frenzy with 6.6 seconds left in regulation

The second half of Joel Ward's double minor carried over into overtime, and Marc Staal finished the Ranger comeback less than two minutes into extra time. John Mitchell won the face-off back to Staal, and Staal ripped a shot that looked to deflect off of a Capital trying to block the shot, and passed the glove of Holtby.

Anton Stralman scored his third goal of the playoffs in the first to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead. Brooks Laich answered for the Capitals in the second period when a pass from Alexander Ovechkin found Laich in the slot, and Laich buried the shot.

Early in the third period, John Carlson gave the Caps the lead when he blasted a shot from the point off Henrik Lundqvist's glove and into the net.

The Rangers turned a Game 5 loss at home into a series chaniging victory, and a devastating loss for the Washington Capitals.

The Rangers will look to finishoff the Caps, and end this series in Washington, D.C on Wednesday night.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Another Must Win Game for Rangers

The New York Rangers and Washington Capitals are tied 2-2 in this Eastern Conference Semifinal. The Caps took Game 4 3-2 on a late power play goal by Mike Green.

The Rangers return home tonight for Game 5 in what has turned into a must win game for the Rangers, much like their previous series with the Ottawa Senators.

The Rangers need a fast start offensively in Game 5. They came out flat in the first period of Game 4 and went down 1-0 after one period. They played come from behind hockey the entire game and ended up losing late in the third. The first goal is pivotal in this series. The team that has scored first has won every game so far this series.

Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards have both been the players they were expected to be this series, and Artem Anisimov has been a surprise with two goals.In this tight defensive series, these players will have to take advantage of the few chances they get.

The Rangers will expect their fans to as loud as the previous games, and give the Rangers a real home ice advantage. The Rangers do not want to go back to Washington down 3-2 in the series. They have shown they can come back from a 3-2 deficit, but being up 3-2 in the series is a much better position to be in.

Miami Heat vs. New York Knicks Game 4 Post Game Recap

Final Score: Miami Heat 87 New York Knicks 89

The Knicks live to fight on for another day after pulling off a thrilling victory this afternoon at the Garden over the Miami Heat.  They also ended their losing streak at 13 for consecutive playoff losses, winning for the first time since April 29th 2001.  The Knicks avoided getting swept for the second consecutive post-season with the win tonight as well.

-Amar’e Finally Shows

Amar’e Stoudemire, who missed Game 3 because of the laceration on his left hand, returned to the lineup tonight and finally played like the STAT Knick fans became accustomed to seeing last season.  He showed a lot of heart and guts in playing tonight, not wanting to give up on his teammates and fans after hurting himself after Game 2.

Stoudemire finished with a double-double, going for 20 points and 10 rebounds.  Stoudemire got off to a blazing start, scoring six points and grabbing two rebounds in the first quarter before foul trouble forced him to the bench.  Stoudemire faced foul trouble throughout the first half, but was still able to provide a dominant performance despite that and the huge wrap on his hand.

Stoudemire had an eight-layer wrap administered to his hand before the game so he could play tonight.  Stoudemire, who has been inconsistent with his effort on the defensive end and on the glass, could have easily coasted and use the left hand as an excuse as to why he didn’t play well.  But that is the last thing on Stoudemire’s mind.  He is a competitor and a fighter, and gave a very spirited and effort filled performance this afternoon.
 Stoudemire is well aware what he did was not smart, quieted some critics after this afternoon.  He was determined to return to the court for Game 4, owing it to himself and his teammates and fans to give it a go.  He not only gave it a go, but put on his best performance in a game the Knicks really needed him in.  Tonight, Stoudemire played more like the Power Forward he is labeled as.

-Melo Lights up the Garden

After putting forth a lackluster performance in Game 3, Carmelo Anthony came out determined to end the Knicks playoff woes.  That is exactly what he did with the help of Amar’e Stoudemire.

Anthony put on a show for the fans in attendance, scoring 41 points on 15-29 shooting, adding six rebounds and a team high four assists.  Anthony was not letting the Knicks lose tonight, knocking down clutch shot after clutch shot in the 4th quarter to keep the Knicks in the game.  The stat that sticks out the most to me is that Anthony only had one turnover in Game 4, cutting that number down from five in Game 3.

The ball movement tonight with Anthony was also much better.  Anthony found teammates on a number of occasions who stepped up when needed.  It was a pleasure to finally see Anthony co-exist with Stoudemire on the court, as the two combined for a dominating 61 points, 16 rebounds and five assists.  The two also combined for +20 in the game, something that hadn’t happened all post-season and rarely happened in the regular season.

When Knicks management added Anthony into the fold last season, these are the types of games they expected every night.  Better late than never I say, as for at least one afternoon the dynamic offensive duo had the Garden rocking.

-Defensive Effort

The Knicks made a concerted effort tonight on the defensive end.  This helped them stay in the game as their offense outside of Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire sputtered for most of the afternoon.  The Knicks can keep up with the Heat when they put forth a defensive effort like they gave in Game 4. 

Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh combined for 66 points, but the Knicks made them work for their scores as they shot a combined 22-49, good for 45%.  They forced the threesome into 11 turnovers as well.

The Heat’s Big 3 are going to get theirs, but the key for the Knicks was shutting down the role players that surround them.  The Knicks held the Heat to 3-19, 15.8%, shooting from the 3 point line and held the bench to a combined nine points. 

The Knicks held the Heat to 41.1% shooting overall, which was the key to this victory, as the Knicks didn’t fair much better on the offensive end, shooting only 42.7% for the game.

-Injury Bug Hits Again

As if the Knicks haven’t suffered enough injuries this season, especially to the backcourt, the injury bug wasn’t done going through the Knicks.  After already being without Jeremy Lin and losing Iman Shumpert in Game 1, you can now add Baron Davis to the injured list.
 Davis suffered a horrific knee injury in the 3rd quarter, dislocating his knee cap.  Watching Davis lay there in pain was sickening, as the injury was visibly nauseating.  The reactions of players and fans alike told you everything you needed to know about the injury.  A stretcher was asked for right away, as Davis could not get off the court without one.  Our wishes and prayers go out to Baron Davis for a speedy recovery on such a devastating injury. 

With the injury, Mike Bibby was forced into extended action and he did as well as anyone could have ask him.  This was quite possibly the best performance Bibby has put on as a Knicks given the circumstances and everything going on.  Bibby knocked down huge 3 point shots, and helped on the boards grabbing five rebounds.  If not for such a great performance by Bibby in relief duty, the outcome of this game could have easily been worse for the Knicks. 

Game 5 between the Knicks and Heat will be Wednesday, May 9th back in Miami at 7:00 P.M. ET.  The Knicks will look to avoid elimination again, and could help be on the way in the form of Jeremy Lin?  He would be a welcomed addition with the loss of Baron Davis. “It was a great feeing.  To win here in the Garden – the fans are tremendous,” said Carmelo Anthony.  Hopefully he and the rest of the Knicks have a chance to do it again and can pull out a win Wednesday night.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Miami Heat vs. New York Knicks Game 4 Pre-Game News and Notes

Sunday, May 06, 2012 3:30 P.M. ET
Miami Heat vs. New York Knicks
Game 4 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals 3-0 Heat Series Lead
It’s do or die time for the Knicks.  Facing elimination, it will be interesting to see how the Knicks come out tonight.  The Knicks are looking to end a number of records including consecutive losses in the playoffs and playoff games scoring under 100 points.  It will not be an easy task to overcome, but the team should come out with a lot of energy and intensity with this possibly being the last home game of the season.

-Rotation Changes

The Knicks will be starting their fourth different lineup in as many games.  With so many injuries, the inconsistent rotation has led to problems for the Knicks on both offense and defense.  They have not been able to put together a full game yet in this series, part of the reason they are down 3-0.

Steve Novak got the call in Game 3 to start, but Mike Woodson will probably look somewhere else in Game 4.  J.R. Smith is being given heavy consideration by Woodson.  He would add more offensive firepower to a Knicks team that has been lacking scoring throughout the series.  Moving him into the starting lineup would leave a huge hole in the second unit.

In my opinion, the best option would be starting Josh Harrellson.  He would give the Knicks a bigger edge on the boards and offers great defensive effort.  In his limited minutes in Game 3, Harrellson was very active, creating second opportunities and providing a spark that the Knicks desperately needed.
**UPDATE Amar’e Stoudemire is active and starting this afternoon for the Knicks.

-Get Novak Involved

The Knicks have to make it a point to get Steve Novak more involved in the game plan.  Novak was outstanding shooting the ball all season, something the Knicks need to take advantage of.

The Heat are one of the worst teams at guarding the 3 point shot and the Knicks have yet to take advantage of that in the series.  They are in a deep hole right now, but they need to start somewhere if they want to mount a comeback. Getting Novak going from deep would be a good start.

-Get Carmelo Anthony Going

If the Knicks have any shot of winning this afternoon and attempting a comeback in the series, they will need to get Carmelo Anthony going.  Anthony has not been very efficient in the series so far because of the outstanding defensive game plan the Heat have put forth in stopping him.

The Knicks need an offensive explosion from Anthony, but it has to be an efficient one.  Anthony scored 22 points in Game 3, but he needed 23 shots to get there.  The low efficiency cannot all be blamed on Anthony as the Heat have done a great job containing him.  It is up to Mike Woodson and his staff to get Anthony in better positions to score for himself and create for his teammates.