Can I say that I love this matchup?!?!?! This the best matchup in the 1st round in the East. We have the expectation heavy Heat taking on a resurgent Knicks squad. There will be fireworks, more likely on the scoreboard than on the court.
Heat: There's LBJ, Wade and Bosh and a few extra pieces, but this Heat team is flawed. They lack a consistent deep threat and they seem to be a team that can't keep it 'on' (their effort) consistently. The Heat's bench hasn't played well, but they are going to have to step up if they want at least one of those championships that this Big 3 promised. Will the NBA MVP, LeBron be just that in the playoffs? This is a dangerous Knicks team that can catch fire on offense so the Heat will have to dial in on defense to wrap this up quickly.
Who has to step up: The Heat Bench. Someone, anyone, step up and give these guys some punch when one of the starters sits.
Knicks: I like this draw for the Knicks. They have Carmelo and Amare and can put up points, but the question will be can they get a stop or two? Tyson Chandler may sit game 1 due to illness, so that will probably put this Knicks team in an 0-1 hole. If Melo gets some help, this team may be able to pull an upset that many outside of NY probably aren't expecting. Although Lin isn't playing the one thing that he started was giving some of these guys confidence and that confidence makes them dangerous.
Who has to step up: JR Smith and Iman Shumpert. I love JR Smith for what he can do. He's a playmaker, can hit shots, and can even play some defense when needed. The problem I have with JR Smith is that sometimes he is out of control. A bad JR Smith means the Knicks are out of here in possibly 5. A good JR Smith means this goes 7. Shump has played ball all year long and he can be a defensive stopper with his length and quickness, so he's gotta cause some problems for either Wade or LBJ on the perimeter.
Outcome: I got the Heat in 6, but there's a chance for the upset in Round 1.