- Last Updated: 8:53 AM, May 3, 2012
- Posted: 3:11 AM, May 3, 2012
The perfect thunderstorm crushed the Knicks last weekend in rainy South Beach, starting with Tyson Chandler’s flu, continuing with Iman Shumpert blowing out his knee and climaxing with Amar’e Stoudemire’s bloody battle with a glass-enclosed fire extinguisher.
The Knicks try to part the storm clouds tonight at the Garden for Game 3 without three of their five regular starters and without much hope against league juggernaut, the Miami Dream Team.
The Knicks trail the Heat in the first-round series 2-0, and a loss tonight will put them in the record books for most consecutive playoff losses at 13 and set the stage for a Miami sweep.
No Stoudemire, no Shumpert, no Jeremy Lin and no positive spin. This feels like doomsday.
“It’s a big challenge but we’ve been facing challenges all year,’’ Carmelo Anthony said after yesterday’s practice. “We all got to do it. I’m not going to do it myself. We just got to believe we can go out there and win the game.
“They did what they had to do on their court. Now it’s our turn.”
The Garden will rock but perhaps not with the same frenzy had the Knicks not become a sudden catastrophe with two surgeries and no wins.
Everything had to go perfectly for the Knicks to upset the Heat, and instead everything has gone wrong. The Knicks are on track to be swept for the third straight playoff series after losing in four to the Nets in 2004 and Celtics in 2011. Things look so bleak, Knicks owner James Dolan may want to write a blues song about it for his band.
“I’m not one for excuses,’’ coach Mike Woodson said. “This team hasn’t been together that long. Tyson’s first season. A short season. There are a lot of things at stake. Expectations have been high all year and it’ll always be that way if I’m the coach. My thing is, yeah we got a legitimate shot. We still control our own destiny. I know the [record] is dangling out there, but I’m thinking about [getting] Game 3 under our belts and see if we can force the action.’’
It has been all sunshine for the defending Eastern Conference champions. Heat president Pat Riley even had the good fortune of arriving in town just as his favorite musician, Bruce Springsteen, was playing in Newark.
In the new alignment, center Tyson Chandler is the only player who will start in his natural position. Woodson said Anthony will move to the power forward, where Stoudemire normally plays — a switch Woodson is comfortable with. With Lin out, Baron Davis will be at the point. The Knicks take a significant step back defensively with Landry Fields starting at shooting guard in place of Shumpert, who had knee surgery yesterday. Woodson said he hasn’t decided whether to start J.R. Smith or Steve Novak at small forward, Anthony’s normal position.
“I really look forward to the way my teammates respond being in the Garden, coming back home, our backs against the wall,” Chandler said.
Anthony played 43 minutes in Game 2. He may be asked to go close to 48 tonight, even though he looked spent in the final six minutes Monday.
“As far as rest, there’s no time to rest right now,’’ Anthony said. “We got to go. Regardless what we have, what I have. I just got to go out and play.’’
Novak, the quintessential sixth-man 3-point ace, said he’s on board with starting.
“I’d be ready and be excited,’’ Novak said. “We have to throw different looks at them the way their defense is. We have to spread the floor and keep it open and allow Melo to work. And I wouldn’t be shocked if that happened. I’ll be ready.’’
LeBron James historically has torched the Garden but makes his playoff debut here tonight.
“They’re very good with Amar’e in the lineup and they’re very good without him,” James said. “They would love to have him. He’s a big part of their team.’’
Woodson is 11-1 at the Garden — the only loss coming to the Heat. The Knicks missed Stoudemire desperately in that defeat and likely will be too thin tonight.
“Bottom line is he’s got to miss the game and I got to push on,’’ Woodson said. “I can’t sit here and worry about what’s happened. It’s done. I got to get these guys that’s in uniform ready to play to win a ball game. I need a big punch from Melo and J.R. and everyone who plays minutes. Whatever minutes you get, it’s got to be significant minutes, great minutes to help us win.’’
If not, the perfect storm will continue swallowing the Knicks.