WHERE SHUMPERT CAN EXCEL: One-on-one defense. Mike Woodson has even said this season the rookie "changes the game from a defensive standpoint." Iman Shumpert's defense -- he finished the regular season second among rookies in steals per game (1.7) -- is particularly dominant in two areas. It starts on the perimeter, where he swarms the ball carrier like a killer bee, taking advantage of his 6-5, 220-pound frame. His constantly-moving hands, especially, make things difficult for his defender. His furious defense is able to disrupt his opponent's dribble and sight lines to make rapid-fire passes. As a result, Dwyane Wade may play a bit more cautiously and his lack of visibility could slow down the Heat's ball movement at times, which would give the Knicks' team defense an advantage because the players would have a better lock on who they're guarding. Second, Shumpert is a great help defender who has the athleticism to drop down on the offensive post player and then quickly rotate back to his defender after the pass back out is made. Overall, there is never a delayed response from Shumpert. He's relentless, seems to always be aware of what's going on and he's never a step behind. His matchup with Wade, a fellow Chicagoan, should fire him up even more, which it did back on April 15. He was able to get under Wade's skin, forcing the All-Star into six turnovers. Also keep in mind, Wade will likely not be 100 percent to start the series. He's still recovering from a dislocated left index index, suffered earlier in the week.
WHERE SHUMPERT MAY STRUGGLE: Of course, Wade is still Wade, one of the top five players in the NBA. Even though Shumpert's defense is his best ingredient, Wade will get his at different times during the game, because he's that good. Shumpert will obviously has his hands full, especially in two main areas. First, Wade is very crafty off of pick-and-rolls and he can split them in a blink of an eye (just like another Chicagoan, Derrick Rose). From there, Wade is explosive enough to get to the rim in two dribbles and soar in for the dunk. Second, Wade has improved his post-up game this season, which is a credit to working with Miami-based trainer Ed Downs starting in the offsesaon. Overall, Downs helped Wade strengthen his moves and his patented spinning fadeaway shot out of the post. What Downs did was this: In a criss-cross pattern, Down applied resistance bands from Wade’s right wrist to left knee and his left wrist to right knee, with bands between his ankles, in order to simulate a defender bumping him on the block. The first day Wade went through the exercise, he stayed in the gym 40 minutes longer than his designated workout time to fight through the added pressure, and he finally mastered it. Downs said that even during an exercise where he had Wade shooting leaning back while standing on one leg on a balanced disc, he made more baskets than being flat-footed. So that just goes to show you how good Wade is. Most importantly, Shumpert will have to make sure to stay on his feet. Wade has one of the best ball fakes in the game after he makes a stepback move.
ADVANTAGE: Heat. Because even a slightly less than 100 percent Flash is still a dangerous player. Let's not forget, as well, that Wade is a great defender himself (he averaged 1.7 steals per game this season). And because it's Shumpert's first playoff experience, Wade, with his seven postseason appearances (not to mention, a championship in 2006), has the potential to take the rookie out of his game and get him into early foul trouble. That wouldn't be good, because Shumpert will also be needed at times on LeBron James.