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Friday, April 27, 2012
Matchup: Knicks bench vs. Heat bench

By Ian Begley

Melo vs. LeBron | Chandler vs. Anthony | Amare vs. Bosh | Bench vs. Bench

Davis vs. Chalmers | Shumpert vs. Wade

WHERE THE KNICKS CAN EXCEL: If the Knicks hope to compete in this series, they will need to create an advantage off the bench. And based on regular-season numbers, they should be able to accomplish that. New York averaged 30 points per game off the bench, a solid total. And slightly better than Miami's second unit (26 points per game).

The Knicks should be able to take advantage of the Heat's focus on stopping the dribble-drive. If New York's slashers in the second unit (Landry Fields, J.R. Smith) can get to the paint, this could create open looks on the perimeter, where Smith and Steve Novak can be deadly. Fields seemed to find his stroke late in the season, which would be an added bonus for the Knicks' bench.

“With Smith and Novak that can definitely be an advantage,” a scout says, “They need to exploit that as best they can.”

WHERE THE KNICKS MAY STRUGGLE: The health of Jared Jeffries' knee is questionable at best. Mike Woodson has said that he doesn't expect to have Jeffries for more than 15 minutes in the post season. This creates a big void on defense in the second unit.

And it's unclear who can fill the void for New York. Dan Gadzuric didn't look ready to step in during his brief appearances in the regular season. And rookie Josh Harrellson has seemed to fall out of favor with Woodson, so the Knicks will need to get creative in an attempt to fill the hole created by Jeffries' injury.

ADVANTAGE: Knicks. If Novak and Smith can knock down shots, it will change the complexion of the series.

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