I was prepared not to write this. I was prepared to hit ‘Move to Trash’ on my first post as a writer for The Knicks Wall. Fortunately for us, the New York Knicks are now 2-0 versus the Miami Heat after another 20-point blowout, this time at American Airlines Arena. What makes this win even sweeter is the fact that Carmelo Anthony was absent, nursing a laceration on his non-shooting hand from a nasty tumble into the bench from the Knicks’ last-second win against the Bobcats.
You might ask yourself, “So what if the Knicks beat the Heat again?” or say “It’s early in the regular season. The Playoffs are what matter,” or defend the terrible shooting nights of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. My response to all of those queries? Get used to it. The Knicks are the consumate Heat-Checkers, and ostensibly will stay that way unless Mario Chalmers or Udonis Haslem develop superpowers overnight and turn the Heat into a Big 4. Even then, I’m not so sure they’d have an easy time with the New York Knickerbockers.
Heat-Checkers? How? Well, I’m glad you asked, kiddo! Let’s take a time machine back to June 2011, when I graduated college and was knee-deep in a wager with a friend over the fate of that year’s NBA Finals. The Miami Heat were the heavy favorites over a Dallas Mavericks team that had just played its collective heart out against an upstart Oklahoma City Thunder. We all know what happened. I ended up winning $500 and a steak dinner because Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry, Tyson Chandler and company thoroughly dismantled the Heat with a combination of stifling defense, accurate passing, clutch shooting and the resolve that can only come through the experience of weathered veterans. Sound familiar?
Mike Woodson and Glen Grunwald are no fools. They saw that the way to beat the Heat isn’t to play their game of superstar ball. You can’t out-superstar the two best players at their positions, and that other guy. No, the Knicks took a page out of Mark Cuban’s book, going for a brilliant team-oriented, surgical attack that preys upon the biggest weaknesses of the Heat: depth and efficiency. After signing the defensive lynchpin of the Mavericks 2011 title run in Tyson Chandler last year, the Knicks sneakily picked up Jason Kidd, the engine behind it. What better way to beat the Heat than acquire the two players most instrumental in the Heat’s last big defeat?
The Knicks are stout defensively with Chandler and move the ball smartly with Jason Kidd, leading to a lethally efficient team. They are in the bottom of the league in points allowed and average the least turnovers in the league, which is a direct result of Chandler and Kidd’s basketball smarts on both sides of the ball. Add to that, the Knicks can go 13 deep. That’s right; THIRTEEN. And that’s not even counting Iman Shumpert and Amar’e Stoudemire. When those two come back, barring any acts of God or fire extinguisher incidents, the Knicks will easily be the deepest roster in the league. For a Heat team so heavily reliant on their top three players, the New York Knickerbockers are ether.
If I wasn’t watching the sidelines so closely, I’d swear Mavericks General Manager, Donnie Nelson, was on the bench next to Mike Woodson. Taking a page out of Dallas’ book is the smartest move the Knicks have made in well over a decade. After losing the LeBron sweepstakes, fizzling out in Melo’s first two seasons, cutting the cord on Linsanity and watching another superteam develop in Los Angeles, the Knicks took the best recourse: build a complete team that can put the pressure on the Heat’s laughable bench of has-beens and castoffs. Let’s put it this way: when Joel Anthony, Shane Battier and Mike Miller are important players in your rotation, the Heat make it easy to plan for them. LeBron, Wade and Bosh will find ways to run wild, but the Knicks know it’s about who has the best team, not the best players.
From the oldest rookie in NBA history, to journeymen like Ronnie Brewer and Steve Novak, to consumate scorers like STAT, Melo, and JR Smith, to gritty veterans on the bench, the Knicks are doing it the right way thus far into the season. I’d be a liar if I said I believed the team would come together so quickly, but the 2011 Mavericks’ blueprint is eerily obvious. This Knicks team has matchup nightmares, defensive prowess, offensive efficiency and the kamikaze mentality necessary to vanquish the giants of the NBA. It’s no accident that both wins were 20-point blowouts. The Knicks were built for these kinds of games, which is even more apparent after a Melo-less victory. You best believe that the Miami Heat have March 3rd and April 2nd marked off on their calendars, because no one likes falling short on a heat check.