- Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer
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WHERE AMARE CAN EXCEL: Pick-and-roll opportunities, if they present themselves. Amare Stoudemire hasn't played as the primary screener for the Knicks for much of the season. That job has belonged to Tyson Chandler. But, according to observers, the Heat pick-and-roll defense is vulnerable to screeners who can knock down a shot. Stoudemire can be a threat to do just that.
So if Mike Woodson can get Stoudemire some opportunities on the screen and roll, his ability to knock down a perimeter shot (which has come and gone this season) can be a distinct weapon.
"You can definitely have a lot of success against Miami's pick-and-roll defense with the right personnel," one veteran scout said. "The pop (shot for the screener) is open at times. I think that could definitely be an advantage for Amare if they want to use him that way."
Stoudemire also showed late in the regular season that he's regained some of the explosiveness that he played with last year. If he can bring that with him into the postseason, he becomes a different player.
WHERE AMARE MAY STRUGGLE: The same place Stoudemire has struggled all season: on the defensive end.
It should be noted: according to an analysis by Sports Illustrated's Zach Lowe, Stoudemire has guarded Chris Bosh on just one of his 48 shot attempts in the Heat's half-court offense. (Chandler has taken contested most of his attempts in the half-court). But committing Chandler to Bosh may take the Knicks big man too far from the rim. So Woodson may ask Stoudemire to guard Bosh.
If he does, history shows Bosh will take advantage. Bosh has averaged 21 points per 36 minutes when Stoudemire's on the floor over the past two seasons. These numbers don't show specific instances when Stoudemire's guarded Bosh, but the implication is there.
If Amare is matched up against Bosh, he'll need to focus on keeping the Heat power forward off the glass, which hasn't exactly been a strength for the Knicks' $100 million man.
One potential advantage for Stoudemire? Bosh is the Heat's third option, so maybe that limits the damage he can do against New York.
"Amare needs to pick up his defense, which has been atrocious this year," one scout says. "He's got to pick up the intensity and take a little more pride in it."
ADVANTAGE: Heat. Stoudemire's defense (or lack thereof) and the threat Bosh beating Stoudemire on the boards gives Miami an edge.
Thanks to NBA.com for statistics.
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