Matthew FalkenburyWhen Carmelo Anthony, was ruled out for the game last night against the Heat with his lacerated left middle finger injury, most of us believed the Knicks were in trouble.
The man that has been the best player on the Knicks night in and night out was not going to play against the Miami Heat, and that’s not ideal. The Heat which were unbeaten at home and looking to avenge not only a bad loss to the Wizards but a 18 point loss to the Knicks on November 2nd went from 7 point favorites to 9 point favorites on that news alone.
Charles Barkley, the biggest Knicks Basher of them all, didn’t exactly help keep viewers on TNT when he proclaimed the Knicks had no shot to win the game before the tip off. Typical Barkley, but yet, in the back of our minds, you had to worry just a little he could be right.
But, in a situation where the cliche “That’s why they play the game” can be used, we can gladly say, he was wrong. The Heat fans (who wouldn’t know Alonzo Mourning or Tim Hardaway if they stood in front of them with name tags), that thought they got a break when Melo was ruled out, were wrong too. Everybody on the outside, looking in, was wrong about the New York Knicks. Not just last night, but really for the whole season and it’s great to see them prove those people wrong every single game.
Last night the Knicks sent a message to the Miami Heat that they are not only capable of beating Miami, but to beat them like a drum, in their own building. No Melo, No Amar’e and No Shumpert? No problem for the Knicks.
In an article on CBSSports.com from Ken Berger, even Chris Bosh knew the Knicks were going to be good, even going as far to say he had to convince some of us of that fact.
“I was telling people the Knicks were going to be good,” Chris Bosh said. “Even New York Knicks fans didn’t believe me. I felt that they were going to be a very good team and were going to challenge us. I was thinking about them all summer because I know they were thinking about us. … The rivalry is back.”
Hey, give Bosh credit, when Barkley is finally gone at TNT, maybe they can hire him to be an analyst, because he clearly knows his stuff.
This rivalry is truly on it’s way back because the Knicks are now starting to turn the tables on Miami and making people believers again. When you go on the road against the defending champs without your two best players and best perimeter defender and beat them by 20, that’s impressive.
What’s more impressive is how they did it. It wasn’t just one player having a monster game or the Heat not being able to shoot the ball well. It was a team effort all the way through. Heck, even James White looked like a real player in the limited time that he had on the floor.
Give head coach Mike Woodson a lot of credit for this performance and really for everything you have seen so far this season. He has pushed all the right buttons, made the right moves with how he sets his lineups, defensive rotations and is a brilliant play caller after a time out.
The Knicks are rolling and seem to be having a lot of fun with it as well, which they should. They are a tight knit, motivated group every night and have the depth, talent and know how to make this season a special one.
Sure there are questions left to be answered, most specifically about how Amar’e fits with the team and how the older players will hold up as the season progresses. But for now, those questions are more or less, hovering over the team rather than looming as some sort of bad karma heading their way.
The fact is at the end of the day, the Miami Heat and the rest of the NBA got a chance to see on National Television that the Knicks don’t back down and don’t let losing their best player get in the way of winning.
At the end of the game, Lebron James while speaking with reporters summed up what the Knicks did last night in one simple phrase.
“They kicked our ass,” he said.
For the Heat and the rest of the NBA, that message from the Knicks was sent loud and clear, and to think, it’s only the beginning.