HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — If form holds and the Heat and the Knicks meet up in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, Heat star Dwyane Wade can’t wait.
You know Knicks fans and Heat fans alike will be licking their chops at the prospect of their respective “Big 3s” having the chance to match wits in the postseason.
“It would be great for the game of basketball if Miami and New York play,” Wade told Newsday. “The story lines, the history, the players. There can be a lot talked about. It really brings a lot of excitement to the first round of the playoffs. Both teams would love it.”
But beyond those with a clear rooting interest, the series holds all sorts of interesting subplots that could make for entertaining fare beyond those intimately involved.
The teams have a lot in common. Each boasts a pair of players among the top 15 in the league. Each lacks size. And each is composed of new players who are struggling to understand their roles and trying to jell.
OK, maybe it would be more accurate to say the Knicks have two of the league’s top 15 players in Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire and Miami has two of the top three in [LeBron] James and Dwyane Wade. But that only lends some David-and-Goliath excitement to the matchup.
Except for Kobe Bryant, no one is a better closer than Wade. He’s the only one of the four to have won an NBA title and generally is a force at the end of games. James is the best all-around player in the league.
So why should Miami fear the Knicks? Well, the No. 1 reason is that the Knicks beat them at home this season.
OK, the Knicks’ 91-86 victory in Miami remains inexplicable on many levels, most notably on the level that the Knicks, who had been together for less than a week, were a better team on defense. But the win does bring up some questions about the Heat’s ability to execute down the stretch. It also gives the Knicks a feeling that anything is possible heading into the series.
It’s hard to imagine a first-round matchup with more story lines: the LeBron Drama, the Melo drama, a court full of superstars, the revival of one of the fiercest NBA rivalries, flashbacks of Jeff Van Gundy riding Alonzo Mourning‘s leg . . . the list goes on and on.
Yes it does.
And Barker didn’t even mention the Pat Riley connection, which might be the most intriguing aspect of all!
This could very well be the most entertaining of all the first round series, if it happens.