Halftime Report: Heat 53, Knicks 53
No Carmelo Anthony, not a problem. The Knicks still made it a game, thanks to back-to-back shots by Steve Novak and then one by Raymond Felton towards the end of the second quarter. But they need more overall scoring beyond their starting point guard.
Here are several main observations at the half:
1. Raymond Felton made sure to pick it up without Anthony. Felton knew that more would fall on him and Tyson Chandler in the pick-and-roll, and the point guard shifted into high gear. He went hard off every screen and attacked the paint without hesitation, even muscling his way in the air for an offensive rebound. He also took a page out of Melo's game and scored in isolation, including breaking Udonis Haslem's ankles on a ridiculous crossover move, which led to a right-handed layup high off the glass. At halftime, Felton had a team-high 16 points. No other Knick was in double figures.
2. The Knicks appeared more in sync in their halfcourt offensive sets. They made sure to start with their pick-and-roll almost every time, and then quickly rotate the ball if nothing was there. Mike Woodson has stressed to his team to not hold the ball too long. Their strong penetration off pick-and-rolls and perimeter rotations allowed them to get open shots. LeBron James knew coming in how tough the Knicks' P&R would be.
The Heat went with more isolations through James (18 points), which the Knicks could've done if Anthony was playing. But Woodson knew he had to rely even more on all five guys on the court to score points, and they were able to capitalize as a team. And that included on the defensive end. The Heat seemed to be playing more of a go-with-the-flow style. In fact, before the game, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said, "We're not playing our best basketball right now."
3. The Knicks' lack of an interior presence defensively. The Heat smartly positioned Chris Bosh along the perimeter in their halfcourt offensive sets to move Chandler away from protecting the basket. That allowed Haslem (10 points) to get two quick inside buckets. Overall, the Knicks didn't have enough down low, and hopefully one day soon Marcus Camby will help. But after the first half tonight, the Heat got too many easy points in the paint.
4. Jason Kidd's clever playmaking. We all know how good Kidd has been from downtown. His 51.1 3-point percentage actually leads the NBA. Well, because he's been knocking them down, he's been able to utilize his head fake effectively to create penetration for himself, thus turning him into, at times, a true shooting guard who can attack. Tonight, that extra dribbling to the basket, getting his defender behind him, enabled the Knicks to find some open shots.
5. Rasheed Wallace's post-ups. Without Anthony, the Knicks needed a main inside offensive presence. And Sheed stepped up, scoring four points on the block and three at the charity stripe in only eight minutes off the bench.
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