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Iman is “The Man”

Carmelo provides heroics, but Shumpert is wild card to success

 

 

The only thing missing at Madison Square Garden were the fans waving the white towels and the "NBA PLAYOFF" decals on the Garden floor. With Derrick Rose returning from a groin injury and the #1 seeded Chicago Bulls in the building, the Knicks and their fans knew it was a big game. They can try to down play it all they want but with the Knicks holding the 8th seed and only 10 games left, there is a good chance the Bulls will be right back on the Garden floor in 3 weeks. There's no doubt the Bulls should have won. But you miss 4 free throws in the final 35 seconds of a 3-point game and you don’t deserve to win, plain and simple.

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Rose struggled to put the Knicks away, not only by missing 2 of those free throws in the final seconds but also by not being able to get a quality shot off late in the 4th while blowing a 10-point lead. The Knicks are still very flawed and rely on Carmelo to bail them out of a lot of bad possessions but the Bulls may be in a worse predicament. The Knicks go to Melo because they are waiting to get Amare Stoudemire and hopefully Jeremy Lin back. The Bulls depend on Rose because that's all they have! Many people will brush it off and say the Bulls still have the #1 seed and have won 2 out of 3 against the Knicks. They will say they still have the reigning MVP of the league and that the Knicks are just trying to survive the last week of the season to make the playoffs. All valid points, but if the Knicks get in as the 8th seed then it's lights out for the Bulls. No way in hell does Tom Thibodeau want to see Mike Woodson looking back at him. Not just because of Carmelo Anthony and the match-up problems he presents to the Bulls, but mainly because of Iman Shumpert and the problems he creates for Rose. Shumpert completely locked down Rose at the end of the 4th quarter, and gave the Knicks a chance to come back to tie the game. He actually had Rose so locked up that in the first 4 possessions of overtime, the Bulls were forced to run pick-and-rolls to get Rose some type of space to operate.

The Bulls are a one man show, and without a second option for Rose they will not play deep into the playoffs. The Knicks have struggled all year through injuries and inconsistencies but they have been great on defense. Chandler brings toughness and is an enforcer on the front line and Shumpert can lock down any guard in the NBA. If the current playoff seeds hold true, the Knicks would be a horrible match up for Chicago and would send the Bulls home after the 1st round. Yes I'm already making a playoff prediction and the playoffs haven't even started yet but so what! Iman Shumpert is the x-factor. He wouldn't allow Rose to put the game away and in a 7 game series he would wear down Rose. The Knicks have a lot of work left to clinch a playoff spot but their win Sunday afternoon made a statement to everyone watching. They have a closer in Carmelo but they also have a lock down defender in Iman.

 

 

 

By: Eric Sanchez
Pro Basketball Fans Staff Writer


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