We can understand if you don’t want to watch Game 2 of the Knicks’ playoff series with the Heat tonight. We can understand if you never want to watch basketball again. The Heat’s vivisection of the Knicks on Saturday afternoon was so total, so humiliating that it almost feels wrong to go out and play Game 2 tonight. Too soon. Too soon!
Everything went wrong Saturday, in excruciating fashion. There’s little reason to think tonight will be much better, especially considering it’s unlikely Tyson Chandler will play, and Baron Davis might be out, and Jared Jeffries is probably out, and Iman Shumpert is definitely out, and the starting lineup might be Bibby/Fields/Anthony/Stoudemire/Harrellson. (Egads.) But you know what? If we serve any purpose on this earth — and it’s possible we don’t — it’s to try to give people a look on the bright side. Everything is lost? Bah! We’re all walking around this earth, living and breathing. As long as that’s happening, there’s always hope.
So, we decided to come up with seven positives for Knicks fans, seven reasons to keep going on, seven reasons to still watch. It’s the least we can do. They’re gonna play the games, after all. Might as well hang on to something.
That said: We set out to come up with ten. We could only make it to seven.
1. The refereeing can’t possibly be that bad again. Obviously, the Knicks didn’t lose Game 1 because of the refs; they lost by 33, for crying out loud. But that said, the free throw disparity was dramatic to the point of lunacy, and it was pretty clear that every time LeBron James blinked, the zebras thought he’d been fouled. The Knicks are going to have a difficult enough time in this series, and the refs can’t make it impossible for them. Typically in the playoffs, there are swings in referee incompetence, and the Knicks are due a break or two.
2. Carmelo is due. So, you know that Carmelo who was regularly scoring 30-plus points a game while the whole offense was running through him over the last month of the season? The one who had 42 against the Heat at the Garden a couple of weeks ago? He didn’t show up in Game 2: He was 3-for-15 from the field and scored only eleven points. Carmelo’s Game 2 against the Celtics last year was probably the best game he played as a Knick until his outburst against the Bulls three weeks ago, and the guy certainly knows how to raise his game when needed. It is needed now. We would not be the least bit surprised to see him explode tonight.
3. It has certainly looked worse than this at other moments this year. Need we remind you of the topsy-turvy nature of this whole Knicks season: You didn’t think anything would go smoothly, did you? For about a quarter of this season, the Knicks looked like a potential title contender; the other three-fourths, they looked like they’d be lucky to even sniff the playoffs. If there’s one constant to this Knicks 2011-12 season, it’s that the team’s personality changes from game to game; they’ve been at much, much lower points than this all season. If the postseason is like the regular season, the Knicks will come out ablaze tonight.
4. Don’t forget Woodson’s streak. Since taking over, Mike Woodson still hasn’t lost two in a row. That’s a streak on the line tonight.
5. Besides, Coach Woodson can do the splits. Seriously, he can. (Holy cow, right?)
6. Jeremy Lin might be coming back. Sure, it’ll require the Knicks stretching this series to a sixth or seventh game, and even then it’ll sort of require a miracle, but just the specter of Lin returning can’t help but put a pep in one’s step. He played some one-on-one over the weekend and is legitimately considering the possibility, especially since the Knicks need backcourt help so much in the wake of Shumpert’s and Davis’s injuries. We’ll say this: If the Knicks somehow get this to a Game 6, at the Garden, with Lin coming out there … well, even if there’s almost no chance of that happening, the mere idea of it puts us in a good mood.
7. The Eastern Conference is falling apart. Derrick Rose is out for the rest of the playoffs. The Celtics are falling to the Hawks. The Pacers can’t even beat a Dwight Howard–less Magic team at home. Essentially, the Eastern Conference is wide open for the Heat: All their obstacles are falling away. So, if you’re gonna win the Eastern Conference — which is what the goal of this is supposed to be, after all — you’re gonna have to go through the Heat anyway. The Knicks have them right now, in front of them. Hell, they might as well play them now before more Knicks get hurt. If the Knicks are gonna make a run, they gotta do it now. But if they can … the world is theirs.
Hey, we’re trying here. Tip-off’s a little after 7 p.m. tonight. The Knicks are trying to avoid setting a playoff futility record. You might as well watch — if you can.