Miami At New York, Game 3, 7:00 p.m. EDT
Amare Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert are sidelined. Jeremy Lin isn’t back yet.
So where are the New York Knicks supposed to find enough offense to compete with the Miami Heat, and avoid setting a new NBA record for postseason futility?
“I don’t know. We’ve got to figure that out,” Carmelo Anthony said Wednesday. “Some way, somehow, everybody has to do it.”
The Knicks haven’t been able to solve the Heat no matter who plays, dropping the first two games in this first-round series and all three during the regular season.
And if they are hoping to get an advantage from playing at home, well, they can probably forget that. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade thrive at Madison Square Garden and will be extra fired up Thursday night to try and move the Heat within one victory of the second round.
“It’s going to add a lot. We understand the intensity is going to raise even more,” James said. “I’ve had an opportunity to play a lot of games in that building, but none quite as big as these. This is the Mecca of basketball and it comes with a little more incentive. There’s a lot of history in this building. But we understand what we’re there for.”
The Heat won Game 1 by 33 points and were never seriously challenged in the fourth quarter of a 104-94 victory on Monday, sending New York to its record-tying 12th straight postseason loss. The frustration got to Stoudemire, who punched the case around a fire extinguisher after the game and cut his hand on some glass.
He had a muscle repaired by a surgeon Tuesday and met with his teammates Wednesday, where interim coach Mike Woodson said he was “very apologetic.” With his hand wrapped, Stoudemire said there was a “great chance” he could play in Game 4 on Sunday, though the Knicks are listing him as doubtful.
And Stoudemire believes the Knicks can hang in there until he is back.
“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.”
Stoudemire missed 13 games down the stretch with a bulging disk in his back, and the Knicks won nine of them, so there is the theory they’re better without him. Anthony moved to the power forward spot and dominated slower defenders on his way to averaging nearly 30 points in April and winning the Eastern Conference player of the month award.
But one of the losses was to the Heat on April 15 in Miami’s lone trip to Madison Square Garden. Anthony scored 42 points but was on fumes in the fourth quarter, unable to get much of a rest because the offense stalled when he went out. He then managed only two baskets in the fourth quarter while defended by James, and the Heat pulled away for a 93-85 win.
Anthony said he’s prepared to play as long as interim coach Mike Woodson needs him, but knows that one man is not going to beat the Heat.
“They make it tough out there on the basketball court,” Anthony said. “Beating one guy, I’ve got to see two more guys.”
Like all teams that fall behind 2-0, the Knicks have tried to say that Miami has simply won its two home games, and now it’s their turn. But James and Wade treat MSG like it’s their home court – as the Knicks once hoped it would be.
James averages 29.9 points there, second behind Kobe Bryant among active players. Wade is fourth with 27.3, according to STATS, LLC.
Neither was interested in coming to New York as a free agent in 2010, but they love to visit.
“It’s no secret that besides the AmericanAirlines Arena, it’s is my favorite place to play,” Wade said. “I look forward to how this team is going to respond in a very hostile environment with the lights as bright as they can be.”
Shumpert tore a knee ligament in Game 1 and had surgery Wednesday, but Lin played in a full-court, 3-on-3 scrimmage Wednesday and still hopes to return during the series. If Stoudemire can make it back, too, the Knicks could be close to full strength.
But unless they get some unexpected contributions Thursday from a still undetermined starting lineup, it may be too late.
“Nobody never said it was going to be easy,” Anthony said. “Guys that haven’t been playing need to step up and get ready for the challenge that’s out there facing us tomorrow, and we’re going to need everybody.”