This should be a fun one, with 3 of the most explosive scorers in the league in Carmelo Anthony, Lebron James and Dwyane Wade. Get your popcorn ready because if Melo and the Knicks get hot, this one could get interesting.
MY PREDICTION: Heat in 7
Heat Key Players: (Opponent EFF Rating)
1. Lebron James – (20.6) – Lebron is no doubt the lead dog in Miami this season and should be the player to own throughout the playoffs this season. The Knicks also possess an alarming number of poor defenders on the wing that bodes well for James in this series. I suspect he will draw a lot of Carmelo Anthony, which doesn’t scare me at all.
Projections: 40-48 FPPG 40-45 MPG
2. Dwyane Wade – (20.6) – Wade gets a bit tougher matchup as he draws the Knicks one tough perimeter defender in Iman Shumpert. Wade doesn’t seem to have a major injury problem heading into the series, but has been bothered by lots of minor ones this season as usual. Wade is a large step down from James in my opinion during this series, but more because of the great matchup James has than anything else.
Projections: 32-38 FPPG 35-40 MPG
3. Chris Bosh – (19.5) – We haven’t seen much of Bosh as he has been nursing some leg injuries and resting as the Heat closed the regular season. Bosh probably draws a lot of Tyson Chandler in this series, which was not great for him in last year’s finals. Look for him to be a solid third option, but he won’t be taking over many games in this series as we saw him do in last year’s playoffs.
Projections: 22-28 FPPG 35-40 MPG
4. Mario Chalmers – (17.6) – Chalmers is going to see a lot of Baron Davis and Mike Bibby in front of him this series and if he can pry the ball away from the Big 3 enough, he should have himself a solid series. Look for him to pick up his minutes while Norris Cole sees less time in big games.
Projections: 12-18 FPPG 28-34 MPG
Heat Sleepers: Love: Udonis Haslem
Knicks Key Players: (Opponent EFF Rating)
1. Carmelo Anthony (18.7) – Melo has switched back to his natural small forward position with the return of Amare and that matches him up with Lebron James for much of this series. His biggest benefit could be keeping Lebron on the perimeter off the ball taking one of the best help defenders in the NBA out of the equation. However, Melo isn’t going to be thrilled about doing that and will likely try to do too much against a superior defender.
Projections: 32-38 FPPG 38-44 MPG
2. JR Smith (17.4) – Smith has really been a blessing the Knicks this season and has fit into their new isolation heavy offense perfectly. The playoffs usually lead to more isolation plays, so that plays right into his hand. He has a BIG disparity between his home and away stats, so try to use him for as many home games as possible.
Projections: 22-27 FPPG 28-34 MPG
3. Tyson Chandler (2o.9) – Miami does struggle to defend a bit inside and we aren’t really sure who will be the Heat other starting big man when this series opens. Even when we do, we won’t know who will end up playing the most. I would imagine that Bosh and Haslem spend the most time in the game giving Chandler a big advantage on the boards.
Projections: 20-23 FPPG 34-38 MPG
4. Amare Stoudemire (21.2) – Amare is the real wildcard in this series. If he is healthy and can play anything at all like the Amare of old, he brings a whole new element to the Knicks squad on offense. If the Heat play small a lot it can only help him, so hope to see a lot of Haslem out their for the Heat.
Projections: 18-28 FPPG 31-36 MPG
Knicks Sleepers: Love: Baron Davis, Iman Shumpert Like: Steve Novak