Knicks-Heat Game 2 Preview
MIAMI (AP) — When Jeremy Lin went down with a knee injury, Iman Shumpert stepped up for the New York Knicks.
Turnabout isn’t happening anytime soon.
Although Lin practiced Sunday, one day after the Miami Heat rolled past the Knicks by 33 points in Game 1 of the teams’ Eastern Conference first-round series, New York coach Mike Woodson said Lin — the guard who became an overnight sensation this season by putting up dazzling numbers in February — is not ready to return. And Lin agrees.
So without Lin and now without Shumpert, who will be lost for up to eight months after tearing a ligament in his left knee on Saturday, the Knicks will have to do some scrambling to get ready for Game 2 in Miami on Monday night.
“It’s a big blow,” Woodson said. “But again, that’s the whole beauty about having a pretty solid basketball team. Someone else has to step up now. He won’t be back this season. It’s what it is and we’ve got to keep it moving.”
The teams practiced simultaneously on Sunday, and the mood on each court couldn’t have been much different.
Downstairs on the main arena floor, the Knicks mocked Woodson for his lack of flexibility during post-workout stretching exercises, followed by Carmelo Anthony, Baron Davis, Amare Stoudemire and Steve Novak laughing it up more during a midcourt shooting contest. Upstairs, the Heat were saying they saw plenty of areas where they can improve.
“That’s part of the mental challenge that you face during the playoffs whether you win or lose, to stay the course and stay objective about it,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “At the end of the day, yes, we did some things well in that game. But it’s only one game and that’s it. We have to put it behind us now. Their game plan hasn’t changed. All they’re trying to do is get one on our court.”
And really, things can’t get much worse for the Knicks.
Heat star LeBron James scored 32 points on Saturday. The Knicks starters, combined, scored 30. Anthony shot 3 for 15 from the field — out of 591 games in his career, including playoffs, with at least that many attempts he’s shot worse only seven times, and four of those were in his rookie season.
“It’s just something that I have to figure out,” Anthony said.
The Heat said that even if they play as well defensively as they did in Game 1, Anthony will almost certainly be better on Monday.
“That’s what great players do. They make adjustments and come in for Game 2 and be better,” James said. “We understand that. We know that as a team that it starts with him. He’s the head of their snake. He wants to play well. He has to play better than he played yesterday. We know that. But we’ll be in tune with our game plan.”
James said he felt some lingering soreness in his neck on Sunday after a collision with Knicks center Tyson Chandler in Game 1. Chandler picked up two fouls a minute apart late in the half, both for illegal picks set against James — the second of them ruled a flagrant foul after the Heat forward was knocked down and grabbed the back of his head and left side of his neck in pain.
James will play Monday. Chandler might not, as he was left at the team hotel Sunday to deal with flulike symptoms for a third straight day.
“I’m worried,” said Knicks guard Baron Davis, who has injury concerns of his own. Davis has been dealing with a balky back all season, and Woodson indicated the veteran would be a game-time decision Monday. Davis said he’d be more of a breakfast-time decision, insisting that if he wakes up on Monday, he’ll play that night.
Saturday’s victory margin was the largest in a postseason opener since San Antonio defeated Sacramento 122-88 in Game 1 of the Western Conference playoffs in 2006. And it was the biggest win in any Game 1, regardless of round, since Orlando beat Atlanta 114-71 in the East semifinals two years ago.
“In the playoffs, each game is its own,” Heat guard Dwyane Wade said. “You feel good after the game, but the next day, in playoffs, you have to move on. You can never feel too good about anything. So we’ve got to come in with the same approach to the game, the same mindset.”
Still, either side would quickly point out that a Game 1 blowout doesn’t end a series.
It was only last year when the Heat went into Chicago and got hit with a 21-point loss in Game 1 of the East finals, before sweeping the remainder of the series. And in 2009, Woodson was coaching the Atlanta Hawks when they blew Miami out by 26 to open an East first-round series. The next two games were easy Miami wins, though Atlanta recovered to advance in seven.
“We’re smart enough to know that they’re a better team than that,” Heat forward Udonis Haslem said. “And we understand that they’re going to play a lot better (Monday) and it’s going to be a tough game.”
And Lin acknowledged Sunday that it’s tough to sit out — but added that there’s really no other option, even now that the Knicks are down another guard.
It’s been four weeks since Lin had surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee. At the time, the Knicks said he would likely need six weeks to recover.
“I think I’m going to evaluate it at the end of the week,” Lin said. “Hopefully I’ll feel good by then.”
Follow Tim Reynolds on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ByTimReynolds