The Knicks Are Built to Win an NBA Title Like the Champion Mavericks Were
After tonight, the Knicks are 6-0 for the first time since the 1993-94 season in which they made it to the NBA Finals and lost in seven games to Hakeem Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets.
But this time, maybe they’ll go all the way.
When you take a closer look at these 2012-13 Knicks, you’ll see that they are remarkably similar to the 2010-11 Dallas Mavericks that defeated the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.
See if you agree:
Jason Kidd = Jason Kidd
Carmelo Anthony = Dirk Nowitzki
J.R. Smith = Jason Terry
Amar’e Stoudemire = more ball-demanding version of Shawn Marion
Tyson Chandler = Tyson Chandler
Steve Novak = Peja Stojakovic
Raymond Felton = Jose Juan Barea
Ronnie Brewer = Corey Brewer
Iman Shumpert = more productive version of DeShawn Stevenson
The model is simple. Surround a scoring machine, who has an elite mid-range game but also can shoot from downtown, with three-point shooters and a center in Tyson Chandler who doesn’t demand the ball on offense, but is effective at stopping it from going into the net on defense.
This offense that the Mavericks had and the Knicks have adopted is incredibly hard to guard because defenses basically have to choose between letting ‘Melo go one-on-one or doubling him and giving an open look to a high-percentage three-point shooter.
Now, the comparison between these Knicks and the champion Mavericks may not be perfect, but what made those Mavericks special was their team chemistry, and it all started with Dirk. Everyone on that team understood that he was the go-to guy and when he wanted the ball, he got it.
So far, that understanding appears to exist in the New York locker room, especially since ‘Melo is currently one of the top scorers in the NBA. But when Amar’e comes back, it is unclear if that acknowledgement will be maintained.
If the Knicks are going to be a legitimate contender in the East, Stoudemire will likely have to adopt the role that Shawn Marion played for the Mavericks and give Carmelo the freedom to be the true leader of the team. Whether he can accept that will heavily impact whether this team is championship-caliber.
Unfortunately, for Knicks fans, the answer right now seems to be that Stoudemire probably won’t acknowledge that Carmelo needs to be the sole leader of the team when he returns from injury. Last year Amar’e didn’t recognize ‘Melo as the team’s only go-to guy, and ‘Melo deferred to him at times when they were on the floor.
If that trend continues, then the Knicks' offensive production will be significantly hindered. Carmelo just isn’t as aggressive when he’s playing with Amar’e because he feels like he needs to get him more involved in the offense, and that makes the Knicks easier to defend.
When Amar’e goes one-on-one from outside the key, he isn’t as much of a scoring threat compared to Anthony, so defenders can lock down on New York’s three-point shooters. Meanwhile, Anthony is relegated to being just another shooter in those situations, which is a waste of his overall skills.
If Stoudemire were to come off the bench and spend less time on the court with Carmelo then that would probably help the team, but the best way to make this issue go away is for ‘Melo, Stoudemire or Mike Woodson to call a meeting between the three of them and speak up.
Of course, even if the Knicks were able to sort out an arrangement that kept both stars and Woodson happy, they would likely have to beat the Heat in the playoffs to win a championship, and Miami now possesses the team chemistry it didn’t have when it played the Mavericks in 2011.
But that’s what makes sports so unpredictable and so fun to watch. You never know what’s going to happen.
The Mavericks shocked everyone in the 2011 playoffs when they not only beat the two-time defending champion Lakers, but swept them in the second round.
They were lucky they ran into the Miami Heat when they weren’t as stable as they currently are, but if the Mavericks were able to beat the Lakers and then the Heat in 2011, then it is not implausible that the Knicks can surprise everyone this year and take home the title.
Their chances might not be great because they would probably have to beat the favorites, the Heat, and then perhaps the Lakers in the Finals, but they are using the same formula that the Mavericks utilized in 2011.
It worked then…the question is if it will work now.
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