Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
Can the Knicks, given the chance, make things a little less easy on Miami?
Steve Aschburner: Any concerns I have about Miami and its road to a third straight Finals come from the Heat themselves (primarily Dwyane Wade‘s health). I still think Indiana is the second-best team in the East and it’s looking as if Miami only will have to get by one of the potential opportunists — the Pacers or the Knicks — rather than both. So for me, no, nothing has changed. We’re in south Florida in June.
Fran Blinebury: Never thought the Heat were going to summon up the ghost of Moses Malone and go Fo’, fo’, fo’ through the East bracket. The Knicks can put up a fight because they’ve got an offensive star in Carmelo that can stand toe-to-toe with LeBron, a shot-blocking, rim protector in Tyson Chandler and the x-factor in J.R. Smith. If the Knicks are making 3-pointers, as in the early season games, Miami will be pushed, but I think still prevail.
Jeff Caplan: Heck, last week I thought the Pacers had a chance to make things interesting. The Knicks? Hard for me to count out Tyson Chandler and Jason Kidd after witnessing the entire Dallas Mavericks’ 2010-11 championship season front and center, and Carmelo Anthony is simply unconscious these days. I’ll say this: If Dwyane Wade is not right if these two teams meet, I give the Knickerbockers a puncher’s chance.
Scott Howard-Cooper: This doesn’t change my thinking. Maybe on my previous stance that Indiana is the second-best team in the Eastern Conference — not yet, though — but the Heat are still clearly the team to beat on that side of the bracket. I don’t know about “easy,” but the favorite without question. Maybe someone takes a couple games off them, if that rates as easy. Maybe the Pacers beat the Heat on the boards bad enough to make things interesting.
John Schuhmann: Since it’s only been seven days since you asked us the Knicks/Pacers question, I still give Indiana the edge in the conference semis, keeping the Knicks from seeing the Heat in the playoffs. I’ll take the great defensive team over the great offensive team. Either way, Miami doesn’t have much (other than health) to worry about until they face the Spurs in The Finals.
Sekou Smith: They didn’t need the late surge. They scored two very important wins over the Heat before they kicked off the win streak. There are only a few teams in the Eastern Conference capable of truly challenging the Heat anyway. The Knicks are one of them, along with Chicago and Boston. The Knicks rolled early this season, disappeared for a while (due to injuries, players coming back from injuries, the natural grind of the season, etc.) and now appear poised to make some serious noise in the playoffs. But whatever run they make will likely come to a stop in Miami, where they’ll have to be at the very best to do anything other than fall in six or seven games. I’m still not sold on them or anyone else in the East knocking off the reigning champs in a best-of-seven series