Originally posted on Turn On The Jets  |  Last updated 4/28/12

After all the ups and downs of the roller coaster regular season for the New York Knicks, they finished with a respectable 36-30 regular season record. Unfortunately it was only good enough for the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference and has set them up with a match-up with the Miami Heat in round one, where they find themselves substantial underdogs. Can the Knicks shock the world and send the league’s most hated team packing home early?

The answer is probably not. The safe money in this series is the Heat in 5 or 6. I think the Knicks take it to 6 games but will ultimately fall short 4-2. How can they prove me wrong?

The Knicks must split with Miami in the first two games to create some type of pressure on the Heat when game 3 arrives at Madison Square Garden. Miami has no home court advantage. Their stands will be filled with fair weather fans, Knicks fans and white shirts covering empty chairs while people are arriving late and leaving early. Madison Square Garden is going to be a madhouse. The Knicks are a different team at home and should be able to at least split in games 3 and 4. The longer this series goes, the more pressure is on the Dream Team who is led by a player who isn’t known for his exploits in pressure situations.

Now is Carmelo Anthony’s moment. He has been playing as well as, if not better than any player in the NBA the past month. He needs to match LeBron James shot for shot and go beyond him in the 4th quarter. Yet even that won’t be enough for the Knicks, as they will need their supporting cast led by Amare Stoudemire to have enough firepower to match Dwayne Wade and to a lesser extent Chris Bosh.

Beyond that, it is on Tyson Chandler to dominate the paint with Miami running out a Ronny Turiaf and Joel Anthony combination at center. Iman Shumpert to D up Dwyane Wade like he did Derrick Rose a few weeks back and the JR Smith/Steve Novak combination to outscore Miami’s questionable bench.

Miami brings a defensive intensity matched by few, if any teams in the league and the Knicks have major issues at point guard and finding consistent secondary scoring options to Anthony. Can Stoudemire give them 18-22 points a night? Can JR Smith find any type of consistency? Will Iman Shumpert hit his open threes? These are the questions that will determine if this series will be a long one or a laugher.

The rest of my first round picks -

Chicago over Philadelphia in 5 – The Sixers have been a disaster the second half of the season. Chicago has been the East’s best team from start to finish and will use Evan Turner’s foolish words about wanting them in round one as fuel. The Sixers don’t have a single reliable scorer who can get them points in a big spot. That isn’t going to cut it against Chicago’s D.

Indiana over Orlando in 6 – The Magic have been a circus all year. Some think they rally around Dwight Howard quitting on them and make a bit of a “Ewing Theory” run. They might steal a game or two here but that’s it.

Boston over Atlanta in 6 – This will be a tighter series than many expect. The Hawks are confident against Boston and have athleticism that will be tough for them to deal with but in the end, the old heads are a safe bet.

San Antonio over Utah in 6 – Utah is feisty and will be tough to beat in their building yet Greg Popovich’s unbelievable coaching job will continue into the second round. The Spurs are too good to lose in the first round in back to back years.

Oklahoma City over Dallas in 7 – Awesome first round series. The champs will put up a hell of a fight but they simply aren’t on Oklahoma City’s level.

Memphis over Los Angeles Clippers in 6 – I love Memphis as a NBA Finals darkhorse.

Los Angeles Lakers over Denver  in 5 – Andrew Bynum has developed into arguably one of the ten best players in the NBA this year and will be too much for Denver to handle inside. The Nuggets also lack a big time scorer to go shot for shot with Kobe.

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