Heat-Knicks Game 5 Preview: Heat look to send Knicks packing
Previewing Game 5 of an Eastern Conference first round playoff series between the Miami Heat and New York Knicks.
|Heat forward LeBron James looks to send Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks home for the summer. (Getty Images)|
Previewing Game 5 between the Miami Heat and the New York Knicks.
1. Where We're At: The Knicks avoided a sweep in dramatic fashion during Game 4 on Sunday, getting a much-needed monster night -- 41 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal -- from Carmelo Anthony and a surprising 20/10 from Amar'e Stoudemire, back after missing Game 3 with a badly lacerated hand. New York's win simply delayed the seemingly inevitable as Miami has three more chances (two at home) to move on to the next round. The Heat have dominated the series throughout and they sloppily gave up a double-digit lead in Game 4. It would be a surprise if they didn't come out looking to restore order with guns blazing on Wednesday.
2. The Big Number: 21. The Heat managed just 87 points in Game 4, with 66 coming from the Big 3 of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. The Heat's other six players who saw the court combined for just 21 points on 24 shots, and the Knicks won the bench scoring battle, 20-9, despite suffering through a night that saw J.R. Smith shoot 3-for-15. Miami's had one of the most efficient offenses throughout the season and put up 100+ points in both Games 1 and 2 against a solid Knicks defensive unit. They just need one person not named James, Wade or Bosh to show up in Game 5 and they should be good to go.
3. Key Adjustment: The Knicks will have to find a way to cope without three key members of their backcourt. Baron Davis joined Jeremy Lin and Iman Shumpert in the "Knicks guard lost to knee injuries" group when his right knee exploded during a transition opportunity. The available options are not great. Veteran Mike Bibby stepped in to play 23 minutes in Game 4 but he's barely an NBA player at this point. Reserve guard Toney Douglas has yet to see some time during the postseason and has barely played since interim coach Mike Woodson took over in March. The other options involve using either J.R. Smith or Carmelo Anthony as the primary ball-handler for stretches. Expect Miami's defense to be extra-aggressive on the perimeter.
4. The Big Story: LeBron James stood and watched during the final play of Game 4, as a Dwyane Wade desperation three rimmed off. It was a curious call by Heat coach Erik Spoelstra; the ball clearly should have been in James' hands as he had keyed a late run and is Miami's best play-maker. James said all the right things afterwards, as you would expect, and he's been sensational throughout the series, averaging 27.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 2.3 steals in 37.5 minutes per game. He's had a few days to hear the questions about why the ball wasn't in his hands. Will he respond in MVP form?
5. The Facts: Tipoff 7:00 p.m. EST. Heat lead 3-1. Everyone is good to go for Miami. New York will be without Baron Davis (knee), Jeremy Lin (knee) and Iman Shumpert (knee).
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