Many fans and media members alike feel that the Knicks have no chance of beating the Heat in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
Not only are the Knicks the lower seed and down 2-0 in the series, but they might be without Amare Stoudemire for the next couple of games. Stoudemire suffered lacerations on his left hand after punching a glass casing that held a fire extinguisher following Game 2.
Initially, one would think that the Knicks would be worse without their starting power forward. Stoudemire carried New York for most of last season, and is averaging 17.5 points per game this year.
However, New York has actually had more success without Stoudemire. New York went 14-5 this season without Stoudemire on the court. The Knicks forward missed 19 games this year because of the loss of his brother and a back injury, and the team flourished in his absence.
According to ESPN's Tom Haberstroh, the Knicks are losing to their opponents on average by 1.3 points every 48 minutes with Stoudemire on the court. With their starting forward on the bench, New York is beating their opponents by an average of 7.4 points every 48 minutes.
Stoudemire has not been the same player since the Knicks traded for Carmelo Anthony before last year's deadline. Before the All-Star break, Stoudemire averaged 26.1 points and 8.6 rebounds per game last season. After the All-Star break, his scoring average went down to 23.5, and his rebounding and blocks also suffered.
This year, Stoudemire hasn't come close to his production from a season ago. That's to be expected with Anthony taking a lot of shots, but there's no question that Stoudemire wasn't nearly as productive as he was before Anthony joined the Knicks.
New York has thrived this year with Stoudemire out and Anthony as the focal point of the offense. Anthony was named the NBA's Player of the Month for April, when he played some of the best ball of his career, and the Knicks started winning consistently. Most of that happened with Stoudemire on the bench.
Stoudemire is also a liability on the defensive end. Anthony has shown improvement since head coach Mike Woodson took over, while Stoudemire remains one of the worst defenders in the league.
Many have wondered whether or not Anthony and Stoudemire would work well together. Both players are at their best with the ball in their hands, and have always been the leading scorers on their respective teams.The results have been less than stellar so far. In 100 games since trading for Anthony, the Knicks are an even 50-50.
The Knicks spent a few years at the bottom of the East so they could make moves that would help them become title contenders. A .500 record isn't getting it done.
Even if the Knicks are better without Stoudemire, it may not make a difference. The Heat have probably the two best players in the league, and are the favorites to win the NBA Title.
But if New York makes this an interesting series with Stoudemire on the bench, expect there to be plenty of controversy in the Big Apple.