Originally posted on Knicks Journal  |  Last updated 4/29/12

With the likes of LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Amar'e Stoudemire all looking to reignite a blazing hot Knicks-Heat playoffs rivalry, one would think the series would come down to each respective team's offensive firepower.

But in game one of the first round matchup, that assumption wouldn't have been more wrong. The contest came down to nothing but defense; the Heat's intense ball pressure, and the Knicks' lack there of.

With Tyson Chandler, the Knicks' defensive heart and soul, plagued by the flu yesterday, New York struggled to remain on steady footing defensively. The big man usually sets the tone, and because he was unable to make an impact, such a team effort appeared non-existent.

What's more, Carmelo Anthony was simply lit up by LeBron James. James came out with a vengeance, playing like the M.V.P. many expect him to be, leading his team with 32 points in just under 32 minutes. In addition, James and his teammates simply looked like they were prepared for Anthony defensively (something the Knicks' couldn't say about themselves against James).

The Heat pressured the ball, effectively trapping Anthony at the top of the key throughout much of the game. As a result, Anthony was left to force up shots, unable to penetrate to the basket. He finished with a miniscule 11 points on just 3 for 15 shooting from the field.

The rest of Anthony's teammates didn't fare too much better against the Heat. By doing a nice job defending the post, Miami made sure Amar'e Stoudemire was unable to get into a groove offensively. Aside from a ferocious slam in the game's early minutes, STAT failed to be effective, scoring just 9 points.

By trapping the Knicks, the Heat threw off much of their offensive game, not allowing their opponent to spread the floor. In doing so, Miami neutralized players like Steve Novak. If New York's offense becomes bunched up, the sharpshooting Novak is often not left open to knock down shots from long range.

With so many potent offensive options shut down, like Anthony, Stoudemire, and Novak, the Knicks' game plan becomes letting J.R. Smith run the floor, throwing up whatever shot he can in hopes that the majority fall. Though he did lead the team with 17 points, Smith was unable to pace New York's offense on his own. The team clearly needs more than just a good day from him.

As if losing game one in such ugly fashion wasn't enough for the Knicks, there was also the injury seen around the world. In a peculiar offensive sequence, Iman Shumpert suffered a non-contact injury to his left knee.

The rookie fell to the ground in agony, clutching his knee in more pain than fans are used to seeing such athletes in. After what was a chilling sight for just about any New York fan (for all the wrong reasons), the Knicks announced Shumpert had torn his ACL and meniscus in the left knee, effectively shutting him down for the rest of the playoffs. His recovery time is expected to be 6-8 months, also causing him to miss Summer League this coming July.

Shumpert was looked at as a key contributor for the Knicks all season long, and thus was also expected to defend Dwyane Wade all series. As much as the loss hurts, you can't cry over spilt milk. New York will have to continue making adjustments in hopes that they can contain the "Big Three."

Though their 100-67 loss in game one was ugly, there's a long series still ahead for the Knicks. They have time to buckle down and put forth a different kind of effort. It'll be interesting to see if they do.
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