It’s funny what a difference a few days can make. Late last Thursday night the Knicks were rolling. They just completed the regular season with 18 wins in their last 24 games. Carmelo Anthony was playing the best basketball of his short Knicks career, even when teamed with Amar’e Stoudemire. New York looked like a dangerous team capable of giving the Heat a series and finally bringing meaningful playoff basketball back to the Big Apple.Less then a week later the situation couldn’t be anymore different.
The Knicks have been manhandled in the first two games of their 1st round series with the Heat. Stoudemire embarrassed himself and the organization when he took out his frustration on a fire extinguisher and subsequently cut his left hand (why the right-hander would punch with his left hand is beyond me). STAT will likely not play in Game 3 and may have ended his season because he couldn’t control his anger.
The only way this situation can be salvaged is with competitive performances in the remaining games of the series and at least one win to break their 12 game playoff losing streak. Anything less means that Year Two of the new look Knicks will have failed to move the needle forward towards being a viable championship contender.
Things are a heck of a lot better in South Beach. With Derrick Rose out for the year with a torn ACL, Miami’s road to the Finals couldn’t be any easier. After they dispose of the Knicks, they should have no problem beating an inexperienced Pacers team (Orlando has no chance of upending Indiana). That would leave Atlanta, Boston or Chicago, who will beat the 76ers even without Rose, as the Heat’s Eastern Conference Finals opponent. Out of that threesome, the Celtics are the only team that can give the Heat a series. Given Boston’s age and the wear and tear they would have experienced through the first two rounds, Miami would still survive that series without having to endure a 7th game. Like or not folks, the Big 2 and a Half will be playing well into June for a second year in a row.
It’s easy to write off the Grizzlies after their shocking 4th quarter collapse on Sunday night but there is more going for Memphis then what you see on the surface. First of all, it was only Game 1. If the collapse had happened in Game 5 of a series tied at two apiece the chances of the Grizzlies bouncing back would be remote. Since the collapse happened early in the series Memphis has a chance to right the ship pretty quickly. Wins in Games 2 and 3 would erase “the collapse” and put the series in a completely different perspective.
Also, the Grizzlies are facing the Clippers, not the Lakers, Mavericks or Spurs. This is not a team or organization that has done well seizing opportunity in their history. Until they prove that they can win a playoff series or two and exceed expectations they don’t deserve to get the benefit of the doubt. Though things look bleak right now, I still believe that Memphis will survive this series.
Though facing the defending champions isn’t an ideal 1st round opponent, the Thunder’s series against the Mavericks will end up serving them well throughout the rest of the playoffs. Assuming Oklahoma City survives Dallas, they may have to face the Lakers, Spurs and Heat in order to bring home a championship. Playing close, intense games early in the playoffs is good experience for a young squad that will likely have the toughest road to the Finals of any team in the postseason.
I love how the NBA jammed 66 regular season games into four months yet they have no problem taking their sweet time completing the playoffs. Is it really necessary to play games three days apart when back-to-back’s and four games in five nights were a common occurrence during the regular season? The playoffs should be a round shorter as is. There is no need to make it worse by taking two weeks to play a series when it can be completed in 10 days.
A Staff Writer for RotoExperts, Tamer Chamma is a two time top 50 Finalist in the WFAN Fantasy Phenom contest as well as a weekly guest on the SiriusXM "RotoExperts" morning show. Tamer is also a fill-in co-host for the show. You may contact Tamer @ firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @RotoExperts_TC