Tonight at 8PM on TNT, the New York Knicks will visit the Miami Heat for an epic clash, acting as a preview of perhaps the Eastern Conference Finals. OH, WAIT. The Heat locked up their place as the number one seed and will not play James, Wade, or Chalmers.
This will be the second game in a row that this has been done, previously against the Spurs,a game which they won. While some will say that they are doing this to add validity to their “revenge” sitting of players against the Spurs (who much early in the season sat all of their stars against the heat), personally, I think they are making a controversy out of nothing and are doing it to fill up airtime.
The Heat have earned the right to do whatever they want: they have the best record as well as as clinching the 1 seed in the east. Playing their players, especially after the Bulls previously had fouled Lebron hard, would be a unnecessary risk. A team’s and coach’s goal in the regular season is to get into the best position possible heading into the playoffs. Mission accomplished. Any team that has something to play for, from their playoff lives to playoff seeding to player development needs to play their players in order to move forward as an organization.
Moving on to the Knicks, this could serve as a game where they could work on a few things. For instance, Melo should work on getting to the post and getting to the line. This will enable him to get a better feel for his shot (he has been more of a volume scorer as of late, hovering around a FG% of 50).
Playing J.R. Smith, Melo, Felton, and Pirigioni (not all at the same time) with Martin will also be important to do. In the past game, there were numerous opportunities for alley-oops from to Kenyon Martin, but passes were too high, too wide, or too low. Extra time on the court can only lead to an increase in chemistry.
Finally, while this is obvious:REST PLAYERS. Jason Kidd, unless the score is that close, should not play over 15 minutes. Chandler, unless he is 100% or desperately needed, should not play. Reduced minutes should go to Melo, Felton (experienced injuries early in the year), and Martin (35 year-old who just returned).
This is of course in a perfect world, but because the Knicks are the Knicks, the game will be interesting. I personally do not expect this to be a blow out, but I do anticipate a Knicks win.