Miami's Mike Miller played against the Knicks for five games during the first round of the playoffs, and he believes they'll be a threat looking ahead. The sharpshooter just has a few suggestions for them, now that he knows what it takes to win a championship after two seasons with his Heat teammates.
"I think the more and more they play together, like I told people when they first put the team together and they started progressing in the right direction, just because you put a collective group of talented players together, it doesn't guarantee you victories, it doesn't guarantee you anything," Miller said Tuesday on ESPN New York 98.7 FM's "Stephen A. Smith & Ryan Ruocco" show. "It's sacrifice, it's playing together, it's understanding whose team it is and understanding what parts need to be clicking for them to be good. Once they figure it out, they'll have a real good chance."
No question it's Carmelo Anthony's team, but the Knicks need to figure out what their overall identity is, something Heat coach Erik Spoelstra kept stressing to his guys all season. The two biggest parts to that are defined individual roles on offense and a collective approach on defense. Mike Woodson has the D down; the next step is figuring out lineups and creative offensive schemes. The Knicks will enter next season with a lot of stability -- the same coach and likely many of the same players -- so Year 2 has little room for excuses.
The Heat spent much of their first season together coasting on isolation plays from LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, both not sure whose team it really was. But this past season, while D-Wade handed the reins to The King, they played together better within the flow of the offense. That new-found chemistry enabled them to play off each other without stopping the ball as much, which allowed role players to put themselves in better position to score. Can that happen with Anthony and Amare Stoudemire primarily, while the others adjust?
More consistency, less confusion and more contributions led to the Heat being more competitiveness this past season. That model of play piqued at just right the time during the Finals -- and it's something the Knicks' core needs to learn in its second season together.
You can follow Jared Zwerling on Twitter.