Commentary

Heat have already made Knicks toast

Forget about any notions of a competitive series -- these Knicks are cooked

Updated: April 30, 2012, 11:30 AM ET
By Stephen A. Smith | ESPNNewYork.com

MIAMI -- It's over, folks!

For so long we thought such an ominous sentiment about the New York Knicks was reserved strictly for their purported championship aspirations. Little did we know it would be so relevant to their very first game in these 2012 playoffs.

But here we are in the aftermath of Game 1, a 100-67 abomination that featured such a flagrant level of dominance by the Miami Heat that such an epitaph seems not only appropriate, but necessary.

After LeBron James made sure we were all witnesses to his unquestionable superiority, outscoring all five Knicks starters, New York's only chance of winning this series is if Carmelo Anthony goes berserk and averages about 40 points per game the rest of the way.

Like I said … it's over.

There is nothing else that can be surmised, with James nonchalantly prancing his way to a game-high 32 points, when Melo's response was an horrific 3-for-15 shooting display and the rest of the Knicks were reduced to spectators in a display that was humiliatingly showcased at their expense.

The thoughts of these New York Knicks legitimately competing with the Heat in this series; of winning it; even of extending it to a sixth or seventh game.

Gone!

LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony
Steve Mitchell/US PresswireLeBron reduced Melo and the Knicks to spectators.

At this juncture, any sensible Knicks fan would be happy with just one victory, and even that much seems highly unlikely at this point.

Game 4 is next Sunday, by the way.

"We're going to compete, I can promise you that," coach Mike Woodson said after the Knicks' 100-67 destruction at the hands of the Heat on Saturday. "We're not here to lay down for anybody."

Perhaps Woodson would be more believable had the Knicks' highly competitive coach not felt that way coming into Game 1 of this best-of-seven Eastern Conference first-round series. But we know better. We know what we heard. We know what we saw. And, perhaps more distressingly, we know these New York Knicks.

We know they committed 24 turnovers. We know they surrendered a 32-2 run between the second and third quarters, getting run out of American Airlines Arena like an intruder running from the police.

We know the Knicks trailed by as many as 37 points, and that the way LeBron looked in comparison to Carmelo was even more one-sided than that.

"We were in tune with everything they were running," James deadpanned after the game.

So kind of him to share the obvious.

The Heat vacillated between fronting Anthony on the block and swarming him, to just simply harassing him with James. At no time did James shrink from the challenge of defending Anthony. Most of the time he appeared to relish it. Alarmingly, not only did Anthony fail to rise to the challenge, but no one jumped into the fray to help him out, which is another reason the Knicks will be lucky to win a game in this series.

Amare Stoudemire, the Knicks' resident $100 million man, registered two field goals in 32 minutes of play, with no field goals after the first quarter. Tyson Chandler, clearly drained from the flu, was not himself, committing seven turnovers in the first half.

There is also no Knicks point guard capable of penetrating into the teeth of Miami's defense. That essentially means every Knicks shot gets contested for those incapable of creating their own.

So, essentially, Steve Novak wasn't a factor and won't be. The same can be said for Jared Jeffries. No one ever knows what day of the month Landry Fields will show up in pivotal games and, no matter how explosive J.R. Smith is, the more he's forced to create the more he'll dribble instead of pass, which will disrupt the flow of New York's offense.

That should be enough of an explanation as to why the Knicks were outscored 30-13 in the second quarter, committing 12 turnovers in those 12 minutes alone. Or why James was able to outscore the Knicks' entire starting five by himself (32-30).

It doesn't quite explain the ineptitude of the officiating, which gave Miami 33 free throws (to 11 for the Knicks), but the New Yorkers would have a much better argument had they looked even halfway decent.

"We knew coming into this series that defense was going to dictate everything," Dwyane Wade (19 points) explained afterward. "You don't want to get into a shootout with them. That's playing their game, not ours. We weren't going to do that and we're not going to do that because it isn't necessary. When you've enjoyed as much success as we have, you do what you do. Force others to follow."

It's something we all know the Knicks can't do.

Because rookie Iman Shumpert, arguably the game's best on-ball backcourt defender, is now out for the next six to eight months with a torn ACL and lateral meniscus, the Knicks are officially devoid of any significant options to rely upon. Just the same old ones.

Anthony. Anthony. And more Anthony. And maybe a little reprieve from Stoudemire and J.R. Smith. That is what we have here.

"I've got to do a lot of things better," Anthony said. "The shots weren't falling, I turned the ball over. I have to make some major adjustments on Monday."

He's not alone.

But it may be hopeless!

Stephen A. Smith | email

ESPNNewYork.com columnist
Stephen A. Smith is a featured columnist for ESPNNewYork.com, a co-host on First Take" and a regular on "SportsCenter."

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