The New York Knicks were in an interesting predicament late last week as the NBA regular season was heading toward the finish line: They had the chance to choose their playoff opponent.
Heading into the final two games of the regular season with identical records with the Philadelphia 76ers, the Knicks could have fallen down to the 8th spot and face the Chicago Bulls, a team that, despite being the top seed, was largely considered an inferior team to second-seeded Miami Heat.
Dropping games towards the end of the season–a mostly meaningless stretch for teams that have clinched the playoffs–to choose your opponent isn’t unprecedented. The Memphis Grizzlies blatantly tanked their final few games last season to fall down to 8th seed so they could draw the San Antonio Spurs, a team the Grizzlies were confident they could beat. And they were right.
There was a tacit agreement among many New York media and fans that losing the final two games and avoiding the Miami Heat wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
But give these Knicks credit, they claimed they didn’t care who they faced–because, one might assume, they believe they can beat either the Bulls or the Heat–and backed it up by playing hard during the final two nights of the regular season, coming from behind to beat the Clippers and blowing out the Bobcats.
They wanted the Miami Heat. Carmelo Anthony, after all, believes himself to be LeBron James’ equal (and some delusional New York media seemed to think so heading into the series too).
Well, Anthony is wrong. He isn’t in the same class with LeBron as a player, and his Knicks are not in the same class with the Heat.
This writer attended last night’s game 3 at Madison Square Garden, and heading into the 4th quarter, LeBron had played, arguably, his worst playoff game ever–7 turnovers, 4 fouls, bunch of miscues, looking out of sync. Dwyane Wade, Miami’s other star, wasn’t playing well either…and the Heat were still leading going into the 4th quarter.
LeBron picked it up in the 4th, opening the final period with 8 straight points, essentially ending the game. In the end, despite playing a poor game by his standards, he still finished with 32 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists.
This Knicks team is broken. Anthony is a one dimensional star who’s a full tier below the true elite players of the game (guys like LeBron, Kobe, Dirk, Chris Paul, etc), Amare Stoudemire has become the most overpaid guy, with the worst contract, in the league. Those two guys have never gelled on the court over the past year.
Mainstream media are still reporting on the progress of Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin’s injury. Huh? It doesn’t matter at this point. The Knicks have now lost 13 straight playoff game–a record–and Sunday’s game 4 will likely make 14th straight. The next time those guys suit up, it’ll be next season.
If the Knicks had a do-over, they’d probably prefer to face the Bulls now, especially with Derrick Rose out.
Not that these Knicks would have beaten the Bulls–even without Rose–in a series though. But hey, we would have ended the record-setting, humiliating playoff losing streak.
It’s been a wild season, and we could always reminisce about the giddy joyride of the Linsanity era, and, well, this JR Smith dunk from last night.