at Miami 106, New York 94 (Miami wins 4-1)
Offensive Ratings: Miami 122.7, New York 111.0
In Game Five, as the entirety of this series since a Game One blowout, the Miami Heat did just enough to dispatch of the New York Knicks. On the TNT broadcast, Reggie Miller warned the Heat (sort of) about the danger of playing with less than full intensity during the postseason, but to the extent a crippled New York team ever had the ability to make Miami play, that possibility was undercut by J.R. Smith's dreadful shooting. Smith shot 3-of-15 in the game and 31.5 percent for the series. The Knicks needed more from Smith, given he took twice as many shots as any player on the team not named Carmelo Anthony.
Despite poor efforts in Games One and Three, Anthony ended up having a solid series. In New York's final game of the season, he carried over his accurate shooting from Sunday's lone Knicks win. The difference was Miami kept Anthony off the free throw line, keeping him from padding his scoring total with easy points. Still, Anthony kept New York in the game with his production. When Melo plays like this, the question is less about whether he's good enough to lead the Knicks and more a matter of if they can build a complete team around him.
We saw that kind of unit late in the regular season, largely without Amar'e Stoudemire. New York relied on defense, Anthony's ability to create shots and a number of capable spot-up shooters to win games. Come this series, however, the Heat was able to focus on taking away the three-point line--a major adjustment from the regular season, when Miami struggled defending the three. They completely erased the dangerous Steve Novak, who did not get off a shot in 12 minutes Wednesday night and took just seven threes in 94 minutes during the series (making four). Only one Knick ended up making more than five three-pointers in the series: Mike Bibby, of all people, who ended up 7-of-17 after knocking down a pair of triples in Game Five.
For New York to survive, the team needed a second scorer to emerge. Amar'e Stoudemire filled that role in Games Two and Four, but whether it was because of his hand or a million other factors, he was quiet Wednesday. Stoudemire attempted just seven shots, scoring 14 points, and the Knicks were outscored by 12 points with him on the floor.
For all that discussion of the New York offense, the Knicks scored at a winnable rate in Game Five--much better, in fact, than in Game Four. But their defense was unable to get enough stops against a Heat team that got out in transition for 20 points and kept possessions alive with 13 offensive rebounds. LeBron James was his usual MVP self, scoring 29 points on 23 shooting possessions thanks to 15 free throw attempts and added seven assists. And the Miami bench chipped in a combined five three-pointers in nine tries.
Even at something less than peak effectiveness, the Heat was awfully good Wednesday and throughout this gentleman's sweep.
Kevin Pelton is an author of Basketball Prospectus.
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