Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Two gruesome injuries and a likely suspension are bad news for the Knicks, Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics but they all appear to pave the way for the Miami Heat to repeat as Eastern Conference champions.
With the ACL injuries to Iman Shumpert of the Knicks and Derrick Rose of the Bulls and Rajon Rondo likely to be suspended in Game 2 of the Celtics-Hawks series for bumping an official, the East has opened up for Miami in a big way.
“It sure is, but the goals don’t change for the Miami Heat,” ESPN NBA analyst Jalen Rose said Monday on “Mike & Mike.”
“Their goal is to win the championship, without any asterisks, without any excuses.”
The Heat blew out the Knicks in Game 1, 100-67, when LeBron James looked like the best player on the court in outscoring all five Knicks starters, including Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire.
Entering tonight’s Game 2 in Miami, the Knicks are without Shumpert, their best wing defender after he crumpled to the floor in the third period of Game 1 with a torn left ACL and lateral meniscus.
Neither center Tyson Chandler (flu) nor Baron Davis (back) practiced Sunday and the Knicks announced Monday that Landry Fields would start in Shumpert’s place.
“Obviously, [Shumpert’s] a guy who has really been playing really well,” Dwyane Wade told reporters in Miami, per the New York Post. “He’s a guy who brings confidence to them on the defensive end with his energy. He’s an engine man. He keeps going on both ends.
“It’s a tough loss for the Knicks. It’s a tough loss for the Eastern Conference to see one of our top rookies go down. He’s had an unbelievable season. As a player you never want to see anyone go down to injury.”
The same goes for Rose, the reigning league MVP and engine of the Bulls.
Chicago figured to be Miami’s toughest test in the East and now they figure to be less of a factor without their floor general.
Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau is taking heat for leaving Rose in at the end of a Game 1 blowout against the Philadelphia 76ers and Jalen Rose said he would’ve taken the superstar out.
“If I’m coaching the team, I 100 percent have Derrick Rose out of the game at that point, and this is why,” Jalen Rose said. “Our bench has been playing well and they’ve been playing well without him.”
Meantime, the Celtics are already down 0-1 to Atlanta and are in danger of going down 0-2 if Rondo is suspended for Game 2 as expected.
“That is very bad,” Jalen Rose said. “It gives the Atlanta Hawks a lot of excitment and it gives them a lot of confidence.”
Tragedy and injury for the Knicks, Bulls and Celtics, but it all opens up the East for the Heat big-time.
“Our mindset doesn’t change,” Miami’s Shane Battier told reporters, per the Post. “There is very little pity in the NBA. It’s the playoffs.”
Photo: Miami Herald
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.