May 3, 2012; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) drives against Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) during the first half of game three in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE

New York Knicks vs. Miami Heat: Game 4 Preview

It’s come down to do or die; the Knicks teeter on the brink of extinction by humiliating sweep. Today at 3:30, the Knicks will likely play their last game of the season at Madison Square Garden.

Probably no onethought the Knicks would win the series or give the Miami Heat too much of a scare, but no one could have predicted how disastrous the series would go. From Game 1, Tyson Chandler coming down with the flu, Iman Shumpert tearing his ACL, to Game 2 when Amar’e cut his hand, to the whole series relying entirely too much on Carmelo Anthony and a beat-up, lackluster supporting cast.

Right now, nearly any team would look dull compared to the Miami Heat. Even at their worst (the first three quarters of Game 3), the Heat have been better than the Knicks, and it’s been a charge led by their superstars. During the Knicks’ best stretches of games, the Heat have never let their heads down; they kept attacking. When LeBron James was summoned to the bench with four fouls in the 3rd quarter of Game 3, the Knicks failed to capitalize, and actually lost the quarter. Enter the 4th quarter, enter James. He promptly scored eight straight points to balloon a two-point lead to a ten-point lead for the Heat.

The Knicks have shown a tendency to hang their heads. They looked defeated, exhausted, betrayed by their own bodies and the bodies of teammates. Even following a vicious J.R. Smith dunk, even with a raucous crowd behind them, roaring at every good play, booing the Heat and chanting “a*****e” at LeBron James, the Knicks couldn’t muster enough to be the Heat.

Some of this has been through Carmelo Anthony’s poor play. As Howard Beck at the New York Times pointed out, Anthony is shooting 34% from the field, has twice as many turnovers as he does assists, but is still using 30% of the Knicks’ field goals. The Heat have defended Anthony wonderfully, making every one of his catches hard  every one of his shot attempts harder. But Anthony continues to wait on the wing and battle for position calling the ball, stagnating the offense.

Some blame the coach for not drawing up creative enough plays to get Anthony open. Some blame the surrounding teammates – Steve Novak has been unable to get good looks as the Heat wisely stick to him; Landry Fields has been almost routinely off-the-mark; J.R. Smith has been unable to provide the second scoring punch needed. Some will blame Anthony saying this is what he wanted when he demanded a trade to New York.

So has gone the Knicks 2011-12 season.

Either way, the time for internal reflection will likely come soon.

Tags: Carmelo Anthony J.R. Smith Landry Fields LeBron James Miami Heat Mike Woodson New York Knicks Steve Novak

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