Knicks, Heat: Will LeBron James Choke, Jeremy Lin Play?

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Apr 27, 2012 02:03 PM EDT
Lebron James Carmelo Anthony
While James has been playing a possible MVP season, Anthony is the hottest player in the NBA right now."

Perhaps the most exciting series in the first round of the playoffs will be the match-up in the East with the Miami Heat and the New York Knicks.

The Miami Heat will be led by their "Big 3" of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh, against their fellow 2003 draft-mate Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks.

While James has been playing a possible MVP season, Anthony is the hottest player in the NBA right now.

The Knicks are on a winning surge coming into the playoffs and the players are buying into a system they believe, led by head coach Mike Woodson.    

The Miami Heat are the obvious heavy favorite in this matchup, sweeping the season series, however, the playoffs are a different animal, and the Knicks do present several matchup problems for the Heat.

Steve Novak may be the wild card in the series with his outstanding three-point range. The Knicks outscored the Heat 102-30 from beyond the arc in the season series.

The Heat have also been plagued with injuries to Dwayne Wade (dislocated finger) and Chris Bosh (hamstring), limiting their production and putting the pressure on James.

The last time we saw James in the playoffs, he was a disaster, losing to the Dallas Mavericks in epic "choke" fashion. In his six games against the Mavericks, James scored a combined total of only 18 points in the fourth quarter.

If James lags once again in his fourth-quarter performances, the Knicks may just be able to steal enough games with a hot Carmelo Anthony and clutch three-point shooting to take the series.

Another factor in the series could be the possible return of point guard sensation Jeremy Lin, who sparked the Knicks initial run to get into playoff contention.

Lin has been recovering from surgery to his knee and has begun practicing including doing running and shooting drills.

However, Lin has not been able to do any sharp cuts and pivot moves on the knee, which is necessary especially for the type pick and roll, slash style that Lin plays with.

"It felt great, I'm working back slowly, but it really felt good today," Lin told TNT recently.   

Lin is currently projected to come back if the Knicks make the second round of the playoffs. 

However, if Lin is able to speed up his recovery and come back for a possible Game 6 or 7, he could be the extra edge that the Knicks could use in a close series against the Heat. 

The Heat and Knicks begin the playoff matchup at 3:30 ET on Saturday. 

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