Miami Defense Stifles Knicks in Series Opener

by April 29, 2012

by Nick Wilke | @njwilke

The Miami Heat sure were “white hot” this Saturday night in Miami against the New York Knicks—they easily took Game 1 of the series with a 100-67 win.

Sure, the Heat’s 33-point blowout victory was impressive, but what was more impressive was that they limited the Knicks’ talented offense to just 67 points.

The Heat defense, which forced the Knicks into committing 27 turnovers, was as solid as it has ever been this season. Those turnovers led to 38 points for the Heat on the other end. The Heat especially keyed in on Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire; Anthony finished with just 11 points on 3-15 shooting, and Stoudemire scored nine points shooting 2-7 from the field.

“We turned the ball over and once we turn the ball over with that team that’s when they shine,” Stoudemire said postgame. “We gotta do a better job of taking care of the ball. Turnovers are very critical in this position.”

It wasn’t just one person who stopped Melo or Amar’e, it was total team defense from the Heat that limited the Knicks to 35.7 percent shooting from the field.

“Our game is an aggressive active game,” Heat coach Eric Spoelstra said about his team’s defensive mindset. “And when you don’t commit to that, you can get lit up.”

New York head coach Mike Woodson was impressed by the Heat’s defense, but he wasn’t at all impressed by the way his team played offensively.

“Our offense wasn’t run real well tonight,” Woodson said. “We played on one side of the floor too much tonight, and we hadn’t done that too much since I’ve taken over. … We were pretty good early when we got the ball moving from side to side and then we became so isolated with the basketball, and that’s something you can’t do against a pretty good defensive team like Miami.”

The Knicks were in the ball game up until midway through the second quarter when the score was 30-29. At that point it looked like the game was gonna turn into one of the Heat-Knicks rivalry games from ten years ago, but those thoughts were gone by halftime. The Heat closed out the second quarter on a 24-2 run going into half, and then the game was basically over.

“We wanted to do so well this first game and was playing so quickly and [we] kind of got out of rhythm and you’ve got to give them credit,” Woodson said. “Their defense was solid the whole game, but it’s just one game. We’ve gotta bounce back.”

After the game, Melo admitted that he didn’t play well and that the Heat’s defense frustrated him because of all the different looks. The Heat would front him if he tried to post up, and collapse on him if he tried to drive. Melo did have some open looks, but tonight his jump-shot wasn’t on point like usual.

“I gotta do a lot of things better,” Melo said. “Tonight my shot wasn’t falling, I turned the ball over. It’s just one of those days. I didn’t play well tonight.”

He is confident that his team will make the necessary adjustments in order to compete with the Heat in Game 2.

“We’re going to make adjustments,” Anthony said. “I’m not worried about that. I’m going to make adjustments and we’ll make adjustments. It’s a long series. It’s only game 2 Monday and we got whole day tomorrow to figure some things out and prepare for that game.”

The Knicks will be preparing to play without rookie guard Iman Shumpert, who tore his ACL and will be out for the remainder of the season. Tyson Chandler was being treated for the flu after the game. And Baron Davis had to leave Game 1 in the third quarter because his back tightened up, but after the game he said that he’ll be ready to play Monday.

Game 2 is set for 7 p.m. Monday night in Miami.