3 things to watch in Heat-Knicks tonight
Can the point guards get the offense in a rhythm?: A huge part of the reason Linsanity took off the way it did was because Jeremy Lin actually got the Knicks to start winning. The recipe for wins was simple - it's not like Lin was Magic Johnson out there, he just was able to penetrate and move the ball. He simply got the offense to flow, and that allowed the Knicks' plethora of scoring options to get in rhythm and find open spaces.
Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd have now joined the squad in New York, and their number one priority will be to make sure the ball moves within the offense, and that there is less isolation and standing around. If they can do that, the Knicks will be able to unleash the firepower that they possess, rather than have it standing around, waiting to get the ball and try to create something.
As a Knicks fan, I find point guard play to be the most important factor coming into the season.
Who will replace Amar'e?: After undergoing knee surgery, $100 million forward Amar'e Stoudemire is set to miss 6-8 weeks. Given his injury, you can expect him to be on the latter side of that timetable. So who is going to step up in Stat's absence? Well, the Knicks have some of the most experienced and least experienced options to step in.
Unfortunately, we are unlikely to see how Marcus Camby fits into the equation tonight, as he is not yet in game shape due to a preseason calf injury. We will, however, see 18 year veteran Kurt Thomas. How much does he have left in the tank? Can he contribute with spot up mid-range jumpers, rebounding, and defense?
If not, the Knicks will turn heavily to undrafted rookie Chris Copeland. A stand out scorer in camp, Copeland is a nice story as a former D-League player and journeyman in Europe. He'll likely get his chance to play significant minutes with Amar'e sidelined, and he can earn more if he shows improvement in defense and rebounding, two areas head coach Mike Woodson said he needs to work on.
Carmelo Anthony is also likely to play a lot of power forward tonight, in which case the masterful three-point shooting Steve Novak will be asked to play more at small forward. Carmelo at power forward will also result in more minutes to new Knicks Ronnie Brewer and James White.
Can anyone guard D-Wade and LeBron?: One of the things that crippled the Knicks against the Heat in the playoffs last year was that Landry Fields couldn't come close to containing Dwyane Wade or LeBron James. Lockdown defender Iman Shumpert got hurt in the first game of the series, and isn't expected to return until January, so the Knicks need to find perimeter defense somewhere.
They addressed their defensive concerns on the perimeter by signing 6'7'' shooting guard Ronnie Brewer. Brewer will be asked to do a lot defensively, and will likely be the primary player to defend LeBron James. The Knicks also signed athletic freak James White, who they hope could spell some of the starters by providing quality defense on Wade or LeBron.
They don't need to completely shut down either of the Heat's stars, but containing them is essential to getting the victory.
Anything else?: Nope. I'm not too concerned with Carmelo, who was the league's 6th leading scorer in one of his worst seasons as a pro. I'm also not worried about the center position, where the Knicks have the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Tyson Chandler, who also led the NBA in field goal percentage last year.