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Jeremy Lin, the Miami Heat, Bill Belichick and Bruce Springsteen

Knicks fans are generally conditioned to expect the worst. We've lived through the near-misses of the Pat Riley and Jeff Van Gundy years... Scott Layden's disastrous tenure as general manager... then Isiah Thomas' even-more-disastrous run. To quote well-known basketball philosopher Bruce Springsteen, we're "like a dog that's been beat too much."

As such, there will be Knick fans jumping off the Jeremy Lin bandwagon in Western movie, leap from a moving train and "just roll when you hit the ground" fashion today. After all, Miami exposed all of Lin's weaknesses and make him look thoroughly ordinary: 1-11 from the field, eight turnovers, eight points and just three assists. The bloom is off that rose, huh?

Not really, no.

Jeremy Lin has been thriving because he is an excellent pick-and-roll point guard playing in an excellent pick-and-roll system. Problem is, Miami plays the best pick-and-roll defense the NBA has seen in the better part of a decade. They're long, they're super-athletic on the perimeter, and they did an outstanding job of pushing the Knicks backwards. Lin was forced to start the offense well beyond the three-point arc; at times, he was practically at halfcourt.

It also seems fair to point out that Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler weren't particularly impressive against Miami either, and Baron Davis (0-7 from the field, 0-4 from three) was just awful. If not for Steve Novak and J.R. Smith, who combined to hit six of ten threes off the bench, the game would have gotten out of hand much, much sooner.

Miami looks unbeatable right now, but the Heat does have a glaring weakness. Team Riley's biggest shortcoming - at least in theory - is the center position. (Offering a contract to Eddy Curry is usually an indication that something is horribly amiss at the five.) But teams that are very strong in the middle - New York, Orlando, Chicago - haven't been able to exploit their mismatches.And that's because their perimeter defense has been otherworldly.

To use a football analogy: Miami is like a team with an incredibly dominant pass rush. When the quarterback is running for his life on every play, even a suspect secondary looks pretty good. Think of Lin as a rookie quarterback that was just subjected to one of Bill Belichick's best defenses. Last night's game was a learning experience. He'll do better next time.

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