For a Miami Heat team whose aspirations are NBA championship or bust, this first-round series was all about taking care of business, and they did just that tonight, advancing past the New York Knicks in the first round of the 2012 NBA playoffs with a 106-94 victory.
It wasn't very exciting, more of a by-the-numbers win, but that's probably how it should be given their team competition. If the Heat's playoff run is like climbing Everest, this first-round victory would amount to little more than setting up at base camp.
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade combined to score 48 points and led the charge in the second half, as the Heat extended their 11-point halftime lead to as high as 19 points with 5:26 left in the fourth quarter.
For the Knicks, there's been plenty of talk about the synergy, or lack thereof, between Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire. A more pressing hot-button issue, however, is whether Anthony can legitimately play the role of superstar on a championship-contending team.
Down 14 points with 12 minutes to go, Carmelo Anthony hit one of his patented contested mid-range jumpers.
It was an inconsequential field goal, but Anthony's reaction to the shot -- which entailed jawing with a nearby Heat fan and mean-mugging the entire AmericanAirlines Arena -- told you all you needed to know about how far this core group of Knicks players have to go before taking the leap into the elite of the East. 'Melo, it should be noted, did lead all scorers tonight with 35 points.
Miami will advance to play the upstart Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
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