5-on-5 on 5: Knicks-Heat preview

May, 9, 2012
5/09/12
1:07
PM ET
ESPN New York's Jared Zwerling joined Knickerblogger's Jim Cavan and ESPN.com Heat Index's Tom Haberstroh, Michael Wallace and Brian Windhorst to give their takes on the biggest storylines heading into Game 5 of Knicks-Heat.

Click here to read the full preview.

Here are Zwerling's thoughts:

1. Fact or Fiction: The Knicks were smart to hold Jeremy Lin out.


Zwerling: Fact. First of all, Jeremy Lin hasn’t had ample court time to prepare for the Heat’s swarming pick-and-roll defense, which forced him into eight turnovers on Feb. 23. In addition, playoff games, in general, are a different beast. In recent scrimmages, Lin has moved a bit gingerly and hasn't played with full intensity, so there's no way he'd ready for that level of physicality. After a season with so many injuries, the Knicks would look stupid if Lin suffered a setback for a vain cause. They should invest in his health to make sure he's their long-term solution at point guard.

2. Fact or Fiction: Stoudemire's 20-and-10 was a bigger deal than Anthony's 41.


Zwerling: Fact. Just hear it from Carmelo Anthony: "It was big-time. I was surprised at what he was able to do, due to his hand. But for him to just come back and just prove to us and to prove to everybody that what he did was a mistake ... it was a minor setback, he came back, he bounced back and we respect that out of him." The Knicks had been struggling to find a significant second scorer in Games 1 through 3 to complement Anthony, and Amare Stoudemire provided that "punch," as Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said after the game.

3. Fact or Fiction: LeBron should be the primary defender on Anthony.


Zwerling: Fact. While Mike Woodson and Spoelstra have given Shane Battier credit for his defense on Anthony, the numbers don't lie. Anthony has been shooting 52.6 percent against Battier in the series, but only 29.3 percent against LeBron James. There aren't many players in the NBA who can match up physically and athletically with the Knicks' star, but James can, and he has made Anthony's catches and drives difficult. In Game 5, Anthony better hope his jump shot is on, like in Game 2. The emphasis on closing out the series should be enough motivation for James to guard Anthony down the stretch.

4. Fact or Fiction: James should be the ball-handler on the next do-or-die play.


Zwerling: Fiction. During the series, James and Dwyane Wade have both been effective in the all-important fourth quarter. James has been getting to the line (7-for-8), averaging 8.7 points in the period on 44.4 percent shooting, while Wade has been doing it from midrange, shooting 10-for-18 (55.6 percent). They're equally dangerous in a do-or-die situation because they demand double-teams and can get into the lane. And that's where they pose a big threat as passers because of their ability to find one of the Heat's potent 3-point shooters.

5. Fact or Fiction: Mike Bibby should be the primary PG over Smith/Anthony.


Zwerling: Fiction. But it doesn’t really matter. J.R. Smith and Anthony are going to be handling the ball the majority of the time. What Mike Bibby needs to be able to do is knock down the open 3-point shot off of Smith's and Anthony’s penetration, which he did in Game 4. Bibby hit two clutch long bombs at the end of the third quarter and the fourth to keep the Knicks ahead. At this point in his 14-year career, Bibby is really more of a glorified shooting guard because he’s not quick enough as a playmaker to put pressure on the Heat’s defense.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Carmelo Anthony
PTS AST STL MIN
27.4 3.1 1.2 38.7
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsT. Chandler 9.6
AssistsR. Felton 5.6
StealsI. Shumpert 1.2
BlocksA. Bargnani 1.2

NEW YORK CALENDAR