In a game of chess, the strongest move is often the one that, somewhat paradoxically, moves you backwards.
Trade your rook for their pawn. Perilously endanger your bishop on a feint. Lose a queen to eventually take their king. The NBA is no different—sometimes, you must lose home-court advantage, play listlessly, give up near-endless offensive rebounds, and back yourselves into an almost insurmountable hole, all in order to get your opponent into the exact right spot for you to spring your trap.
As I, a knowledgeable but disinterested observer with no actual intel or stake in the current playoff matchup between the New York Knicks and the Miami Heat, can clearly see, whoever is coaching the Knicks is springing such a trap on the Heat. While the well-coiffed, deeply intelligent coach of the Miami Heat might think he's poised to once again guide a ragtag group of basketball castoffs that he molded into a hard-nosed title contender deep into the playoffs, he actually has another thing coming.
That's because across the wide divide of the scorer's table, the zip-up fleece of a certain Knicks head coach contains a keen, resourceful mind (and a deceptively fit physique).
It only appears to the Heat and the viewing public that Knicks star Julius Randle is wandering aimlessly around the court, trudging through a cycling miasma of indignation at officials and general disinterest in defense, off-ball offense, or rebounding. But appearances are deceiving—could it actually be that Randle is lulling players like Bam Adebayo, or Kevin Love, or the degenerate Cody Zeller, into a false sense of security, before he returns to complete basketball dominance…when it's already too late for Miami to make an adjustment to an "actively participating" Julius Randle?
Speaking of "adjustments," have the Knicks completely failed to change their game plan when they fall behind in games, or stopped writing up actual plays coming out of timeouts? Or have they simply made it appear that they're not interested in adjusting? All the worse for the Heat once the Knicks begin trotting out new lineups this evening, new plays, hell, even new uniforms. The Heat won't know what, or even "who" hit them. Oh, what a momentary, and private, laugh the head coach of the New York Knicks will have at that point. (I'm only guessing this will happen.)
To consider the Knicks "spent" or "totally screwed" or "absolutely and irrevocably lost" when they have not yet even been "eliminated" from contention is to truly fall for the oldest of moves, the most cunning of strategies—a "playing of the possum," an "of course it's totally OK to go into the tiger habitat, they're sleeping." But the Knickerbockers "sleep" with one eye open—especially their gorgeous coach.
Get ready, Miami Heat. Take off those sunglasses. Because tonight in the bright lights of MSG, things are about to get very, very dark for you.