The New York Knicks will be in desperation mode against the Miami Heat on Thursday in Game 3 of their first-round series matchup of the NBA playoffs.
Don't be surprised to see an increase in infamous Carmelo Anthony isolation plays in Game 3 now that Stoudemire is out. (Reuters/Andrew Innerarity)
The Heat have convincingly gone up 2-0 thanks to all-around team basketball, the underlying force being one LeBron James, who is averaging 25.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 6.0 assists. He has been the generator that has energized the team to shoot 50 percent from the field while holding the Knicks to just 43 percent.
What may be even scarier is that both James and teammate Dwayne Wade tend to light it up when they play at Madison Square Garden, so what should be home court advantage for the Knicks really doesn't seem that way. Among all active players, James has the highest regular-season scoring average at the Garden at 29.9 while Wade has the second-highest regular-season scoring average with 27.3.
This is the Mecca of basketball and it comes with a little more incentive, said James about the Garden. There's a lot of history in this building. But we understand what we're there for.
What they're there for is to hand the Knicks their 13th straight playoff loss, which would break the all-time record of 12 held by the Memphis Grizzlies from 2004 to 2006. And they will have somewhat of an advantage with Amare Stoudemire out for Game 3 from a hand injury suffered when he punched the glass casing to a fire extinguisher after the Knicks' 104-94 loss in Game 2.
Ironically enough, some theorize that the Knicks are actually better when Stoudemire doesn't play, giving Carmelo Anthony more freedom. During the regular season, New York was 22-25 with Stoudemire on the floor and 14-5 without him.
However, the Knicks might need all hands on deck at this point to get back into the series, despite the potential Anthony has to score. Unfortunately for them, their defensive specialist Iman Shumpert is out after tearing his ACL in Game 1. Jeremy Lin remains out after surgery for a torn meniscus and it is unclear when exactly he'll return.
Nevertheless, Stoudemire remained confident in his team to make the series interesting.
We've been faced with adversity all year, he said. I went out. Carmelo went out, Jeremy went out, Jared Jeffries went out, so we've been dealing with adversity all year. It's been a heck of a year for us, but I do feel like we have the players that are so professional, so focused on the game, that we have a chance to win Game 3.
Game 3 between the Heat and Knicks will begin at 7:00 p.m. ET at Madison Square Garden on TNT. A live stream can be watched here.
PREDICTION: Lin has been out. Shumpert is out. And, Stoudemire will be out, albeit for just this one game. However, each brings their own important facets to the game that the Knicks need to have a chance to beat the Heat. Ball movement, tenacious defense and pick-and-roll offense will be sorely missed on the part of New York. Miami takes Game 3 110-93.