NEW YORK, NY - MAY 03: Injured point guard Jeremy Lin #17 of the New York Knicks looks on from the bench against the Miami Heat in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May 3, 2012 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeremy Lin might have helped the New York Knicks be more competitive against the Miami Heat, but it's hard to see him helping them score the upset.
The New York Knicks have been dominated, eviscerated, and totally humiliated over the span of three games against the Miami Heat. They were run off the court in Game 1, as the Melo-centric offense crumbled by halftime to turnover after turnover. They gave the Heat their best shot in Game 2 but eventually bowed down to an outside three point barrage and easy interior buckets. Then after finally trying to out-defend the Heat, their offense totally vanished down the stretch and Miami used a few runs from D-Wade and LeBron to distance themselves from the pack.
Can the Knicks really believe that Jeremy Lin would have really saved them from this ignominious fate?
There's no doubt the Knicks have missed Lin in this series, and his potential return offered a modicum of hope to the gloom and doom New York fans felt after that torturous Game 1. Just look at the mothball point guards New York has had to play. New York has had to start Baron Davis and rely on Mike Bibby for clutch threes, which would have been a deadly combo about five years ago. Davis got pumped up after a crucial and-one bucket, probably at the very surprise of finding himself blowing by someone and getting to the rim. Bibby triples almost feel like just as much accident as necessity.
The coaching hasn't been much better. As good as Mike Woodson has been at making the Knicks run through Carmelo Anthony to power them into the playoffs, he's been just as bad at running offense and adjusting during the course of the series. The Heat have looked toward shutting down Melo early, and there really hasn't been much motion off the ball. "Iso-ball and hope for the best" has been Woodson's only real strategy so far, and it hasn't gone swimmingly.
The Knicks had eight assists and 18 turnovers in Game 3. Sustainable! It's safe to say Woodson will be looking for new employment in a week or two.
So could Lin have improved this? Certainly. Put Lin in the starting lineup and he can feed Tyson Chandler in pick and rolls in a way that no one has been able to do so during this series. Lin could force the defense to account for the point guard and at least provide opportunities for wide open shots Steve Novak currently isn't getting. And Lin would be able to find Anthony without having to engage in a three act Shakespearean drama.
That being said, it probably wouldn't have been enough. Lin would also have been needed for his scoring, and it's hard to see him handling this Heat defense correctly with or without Iman Shumpert or Amare Stoudemire around. Even if Shump had kept his ACL intact or Amare had been smart enough not to let hand meet glass, Lin would also have added to the many defensive woes the Knicks have had to deal with.
In his first meeting with the Heat, Lin was overwhelmed and shut down by Mario Chalmers, who's arguably the sixth or seventh best defender on this team. Getting past Chalmers would have only funneled him into Udonis Haslem or Chris Bosh, and with Shumpert out, Dwyane Wade probably would've gotten his turn. That's too much for one point guard (a good one, but far from a franchise cornerstone) to overcome in a seven game series.
No, Linsanity wouldn't have been enough. It was a fun enough phenomenon, but it was only a bout of madness on a maddening team that could never get it all together. Lin's journey has just begun in the league, and the Heat are playing on a level most of these Knicks just aren't ready to match. It's best to look toward next season (whether it involves Phil Jackson or not) and hope that Linsanity can last a whole season and bring the Knicks back on the path toward greatness.