WHAT IT MEANS: While Carmelo Anthony got it going in Game 2 (30 points), there was too much of the Heat's Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh Monday night, as they combined for 65 points.
The Knicks, down 0-2 in the series, now face a must-win situation in New York on Thursday. By losing tonight, they Knicks have lost each of their last 12 playoff games, tying the all-time record (the Grizzlies lost 12 straight from 2004 to '06).
TURNING POINT: After allowing Wade to steal the first-half spotlight (Flash had 19 at that point), James decided to bask in the South Beach sunlight himself in the third quarter. He scored eight points in the period, including four straight points on driving layups to put the Heat up 67-56 with 6:01 remaining. The Knicks called a timeout to try to regain their composure, but they never could.
THE GOOD: 1. Tyson Chandler came alive. After battling the flu and hardly showing up in Game 1, the center wasn't in a daze Monday night. He didn't fumble passes and was a step faster and more aggressive on offense and defense, finishing inside and jumping higher to tap back offensive misses to his teammates (one of his trademark things). Thanks to Chandler, the Knicks were a beast on the boards, especially on the offensive end. While Chandler had six, his backup, Jared Jeffries, had three. That allowed them to capitalize on more second-chance opportunities than the Heat.
2. Anthony found his groove. After finishing with 11 points on 3-for-15 shooting in Game 1, Melo immediately caught fire in the first quarter, scoring 14 of the Knicks' first 24 points. Mike Woodson said after Game 1 that the ball was on one side of the court too much, and Melo getting caught up in defensive traps didn't help. There was not enough swing passing to utilize the entire half-court. Woodson made the smart adjustment by still running the offense through Melo, but this time more at the top of the key, so he could have more room to create off the dribble. It also allowed for better spacing and more ball movement.
3. As a carryover from Anthony's play, the Knicks ran more pick-and-rolls to balance out both sides of the half-court and to get more looks inside. Baron Davis and his occasional backup, J.R. Smith, made plays off the pick-and-roll. While Davis had six assists, Smith had five, which created a little more of an offensive attack besides Melo.
BOLD PLAY OF THE GAME: With 10:41 remaining in the second quarter, Jeffries missed a layup and Chandler threw down a two-hand putback dunk. After struggling to make it through Game 1, the play was a positive sign for things to come from the center. His rediscovered energy, inside scoring and paint protection helped prevent the Knicks from self-destructing in the second quarter like they did in Game 1 (they were outscored 30-13). At the half, the Knicks were only down six, 53-47.
THE BAD: 1. Limited free throws, once again. The Knicks have a tendency to over-shoot from the outside, partially due to Anthony. While the Heat went to the foul line 27 times, the Knicks only attempted 19 free throws (most coming too late in the game). The Knicks simply cannot succumb to the Heat's defensive pressure. In the series so far, the Heat have been clearly controlling the tempo on both ends of the court.
2. Why does Landry Fields get extended burn with the first unit? When Anthony gets double-teamed and Davis or Smith get room off the pick-and-roll, they are wasting passes to Fields, who's mostly stationed at the 3-point line. He's usually hesitant and then passes it back out. Smith and Steve Novak need to be in the game more to capitalize on the Knicks' ball movement. They are rapid-fire shooters.
3. Injuries, injuries and more injuries. The Knicks picked the worst time of the season to be banged up. In addition to missing Iman Shumpert's defense tonight on Wade (he had 25 points), Davis and Jeffries just can't play extended minutes. Fortunately, Chandler played more like himself in Game 2.
WHAT'S NEXT: The series shifts to New York on Thursday for a pivotal Game 3 at 7 p.m. ET.
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