With the NBA postseason kicking off April 20, it’s time to crown the champion of the 2012-2013 season. After a fantastic regular season run by the Miami Heat, last year’s champs have another solid chance at claiming the title. But they’ll face fierce competition from a solid group of contenders. Who’ll win this year’s NBA title? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley of the AFRO Sports Desk debate the question.
Green: I’ve been saying it all year: as long as the New York Knicks are healthy, they’re designed and built to beat Miami. They’re cut from the same cloth as the 2011 Dallas Mavericks: one elite scoring machine surrounded by a cast of veteran contributors. In 2011 it was Dirk Nowitzki, this year it’s Carmelo Anthony. Carmelo has players around him like Jason Kidd and Tyson Chandler who know what it takes to win a title. There’s also Kenyon Martin, who went to the Finals along with Kidd in their New Jersey Nets days. J.R. Smith has become an all-around efficient scorer and thrives as the No. 2 option behind Melo. Raymond Felton was a champion point guard at the college level, so he can handle the pressure.
Riley: I like the makeup of the Knicks roster but I don’t like their chances against Miami. I just have a problem with teams who rely so much on the deep shot to stay competitive. If Amare Stoudemire was healthy, I would give New York more of a chance since they would have the ability between him and Anthony to score easily on the inside. That would give the Knicks better looks from three-point range instead of them having to force so many shots. The Heat just have way too much speed and athleticism on the wing and can lock down those long range attempts. They have a few defenders who they can apply to Anthony and not lose much sleep over it.
Green: There’s just something about Anthony this year that makes me a believer. I believe he knows he’s just as good—or perhaps even better—than LeBron James and I like the way his troops rally around him. Anthony is scoring at an amazing clip and he’s proven to be the type of scorer that can easily shoulder a load. When you throw in the three-point marksmen that New York has, I just think they can mix it up with anybody, especially Miami.
Riley: You’re asking the Knicks to topple the Heat with a band of role players and Anthony. Sure, the Mavs had a similar composition when they beat Miami, but that was also the Heat’s first year playing together as the new Big Three. I think Miami is better equipped to handle those type of spread-the-floor teams now, and it’s hard to imagine a team like the Knicks with no real inside dominance beating Miami in a series. New York is built to run, but nobody runs better than Miami.
Green: The Knicks come close. When you have a scorer in Anthony that’s on fire right now, anything is possible. He’s going to be tough to cover for anyone Miami would put on him, including James. We might have the blueprints for another Miami/New York rivalry, not seen since the days of Patrick Ewing and Alonzo Mourning. But with James and Anthony as the faces of the opposing franchises, a Heat vs. Knicks matchup could be stellar. Anthony isn’t afraid of James and, with that mentality embedded into that type of scorer, New York has a strong chance of not only just beating Miami but bringing home an NBA title.