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Heat 102 - Knicks 88: Five Things to Take Away

by Photo of Ross Bernhardt

The Heat blitzkrieg stopped the Knicks last night. Here are some observations.

Heat 102 - Knicks 88: Five Things to Take Away

After a close first half, the Miami Heat came out and annihilated the New York Knicks in the second half last night en route to a 102-88 win.  LeBron James had a near-triple double (20 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists, and 5 steals to boot), Chris Bosh had 25 and 10, and Mario Chalmers/Norris Cole suffocated Jeremy Lin on the perimeter.  Lin had his worst game since taking the reins for New York, going 1-11 for 8 points, 6 rebounds, just 3 assists, and 8 turnovers.  Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 19 points, but team hit a funk in the third quarter as Miami raced out to its lead.

Here are five things that I noticed last night:

1. Jeremy Lin is human.  We found out that Lin bleeds just like the rest of us when he gashed his chin against Washington a while ago.  Now we found out that just like every other player, Jeremy Lin is capable of bad games.  The Miami defense really stifled Lin and forced turnovers early and often.  Joel Anthony provided the best PnR defense against Lin I've seen to date and confused him with different shows and his ability to get back into the passing lanes.  Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole were in Lin's face whenever he had the ball, and Lin's bread and butter was really taken away from him.

What happens to Lin without the PnR?  He becomes human.  Options that are usually available to him were stripped, and Lin predictably forced the issue and seemed apprehensive all at once.  The constant pressure he was under all game definitely took its toll.  Late in the fourth after Wade almost stripped the ball from Lin, the Knicks had a brief 5-on-4 opportunity.  Both Steve Novak and Carmelo Anthony were open for stretches while Lin made his attack, but instead of passing to either he forced a shot that didn't fall.  

2. LeBron James is the MVP right now, and it isn't even close.  LeBron showed why he's the best player on the planet right now.  He was all over the court on both ends last night.  It would be one thing if he impacted the game in a few ways, but he does it all.  Rebound?  Check.  Lead the break?  Check.  Facilitate on offense?  Check.  Defend like a mad man and force turnovers?  Check.  Score at will when necessary?  Check.

LeBron doesn't look like he's slowing down at all this year.  He's on a mission after what happened last season, and last night was just another game to exercise his dominance over the rest of the league.

3. Chris Bosh's outside shooting was key.   Chris Bosh played an incredibly efficient game on the offensive end last night, shooting 11-17 from the field.  Per Hoop Data, Bosh torched the Knicks for 7-10 shooting between 10-23 feet (3-4 between 10-15, 4-6 between 16-23).  That's 14 points right there, and it coincidentally happens to be the same as the final deficit.

His ability to stretch the floor and knock down those open looks after drive-and-kicks really put New York's interior defenders in a pinch.  Guys like Tyson Chandler and Jared Jeffries help out a lot more inside, and Bosh was able to leak out to the perimeter and make the Knicks pay.

4. J.R. Smith will be fine for New York.  There were plenty of question marks surrounding Smith when New York signed him, but he is looking like a piece that will fit for New York more and more.  Aside from his offensive potential, he is a pretty good defender to boot.  He will be able to stretch the floor, he can get his own shot, and he can defend.  That's something the second unit is in desperate need of for New York.  With Smith in the fold with Landry Fields and Iman Shumpert, the Knicks are pretty deep at the two and all have the ability to play multiple positions if necessary.

5. There is a time and place for "Melo Ball" and last night was it.  After the loss, Jared Dubin made a lot of great points on Twitter about Carmelo's role in the offense (check out the rest of his dialogue last night for some excellent insight).  Basically, last night should have been the time to get Melo the ball to let him do his thing.  With all of the pressure Lin was under, just letting Melo operate could have changed the complexion of the game.

Lin couldn't get anything going with the PnR for much of the game.  Because his options were limited, he couldn't get the ball to players (including Carmelo) in positions where they could be successful.  When that part of the offense isn't working, that's when Melo (who was beginning to percolate at the end of the second quarter) should get the ball for isolations in heavier doses.  When you run one style consistently and it isn't working, you likely won't succeed.  The same is true when Melo isolations are too dominant over freer ball movement.  There has to be balance and versatility within any offense.  Melo can score in isolation, and against a team who was defending the hell out of the PnR, the Knicks could have sorely used that.

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