Well it appears with the Knicks locking up the 6th spot and the Heat taking sole possession of the 2nd spot in the Eastern Playoffs that the Heat v. Knicks dream series will be on hold. Yet, while the two sorta mirror image teams playoff trajectories have changed the symmetry shared between the two teams continues on many levels. From the generally questionable interior presence sported by both clubs to the two dominant scorers to the almost under heralded supporting roles of the 3rd wheel in both teams big three. To borrow a phrase “the resemblance is uncanny.”
Even obvious differences hold important similarities when “you all look alike.”
Take for example the possible important roles to be played by current Knicks and Heat players Landry Fields and Chris Bosh. Yes. Both play different positions on the court. Yes. One is an all star while the other has made his claim for all rookie honors. Yes. One gets paid a boatload of Money in a tax friendly state while the other’s 2nd round rookie scale salary gets hit up with the onerous NY state residence tax. But the two have experienced similar trajectories with respective teams. Also both may very well prove to be key contributors to Knicks and Heat’s chances at playoff success.
Think about it for a moment. Both Bosh and Fields at one time produced more consistently and decisively for their current or former teams. (pre Melo/Billups Knicks and Toronto Raptors). Both were highly regarded enough to either be acquired or retained by their respective clubs. Both Bosh and Field’s are playing on lineups that experienced massive personnel upheavals. Most importantly both have struggled to rediscover an effective niche on ball clubs spearheaded by dominant offensive scoring tandems.
For Bosh the effective wing dominant Lebron James and Dwayne Wade tandem when coupled with Bosh’s percievedly differential demeanor resulted in a seesawed season for Miami’s third big wheel. But as the Heat’s true sole post scoring option, when Bosh breaks character and plays with aggression his importance to Miami’s chances of overall success become evident. That will continue to hold true as teams gear up to slow down James and Wade while looking to negate the Heat’s three point threats.
For Landry Fields, his first season as a Knick has seasawed from obscurity to all rookie prominence to the meeting with the rookie wall and what head coach Mike D’Antoni deems a crisis of confidence. A crisis that D’Antoni suggest centers on Fields struggle to adjust to different game pace. A pace that veers from the strengths of Fields freewheeling off motion offensive instincs. A pace D’Antoni indicates will require sacrifice an eventual expansion of Fields game.
D’Antoni is not incorrect with his observation of the adjustments needed by Fields or the root of his diminished production. For instance look at the crests and valleys in Field’s production while playing alongside Carmelo Anthony especially during Chauncey Billup’s and Amar’e Stoudemire’s absences. The spaces Fields exploited when the Knicks spread the ball around the streak slashers and perimeter players that surrounded Stoudemire have been replaced by the iso, mid range and post up talents of Anthony. Also, put backs don’t occur as often when the ball is “stopped” by going into the net by Melo’s hot hands and Billups clutch shots.
But D’Antoni may be well served by not taking for granted Fields strengths. Perhaps by allowing the offense to take advantage of some of his strengths (by way of scheme or otherwise) Fields’ transition with the current Knicks would be less cumbersome. That transition and Fields’ strengths as a player may be a welcome sight. A welcome sight when offensive rebounding opportunities increase, teams focus on taking away the obvious threats and secondary options presented by the Knicks long range shooters and spaces open up for a forgotten player to once again exploit his favorite niche.