Why will the Knicks shock the world and execute a first-round upset in the Eastern Conference playoffs? They have a better than average chance as the NBA’s second season begins this weekend.

The Knicks’ opponent had yet to be determined as of last night (Wednesday), but it is likely the Knicks will be in Miami or Chicago to face the Heat or the Bulls, the top two seeds in the conference. The debate over which team is a more favorable matchup for the Knicks has been stewing for weeks, even when they had yet to clinch a spot in the postseason. There are merits in arguing for either opponent. Yet, the Heat is more likely to be a victim of failed expectations and fall to the Knicks. Here’s the basis for this rationale:

  1. Miami is psychologically fragile: The pressure on LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, etc., to win a championship is enormous. James’ proclamation upon signing with the Heat nearly two years ago that the trio could potentially lead the franchise to seven titles is as ridiculous now as it was then. Reason dictates that the so-called Big Three are cognizant that the Heat’s head man in charge, Pat Riley, will strongly consider reshaping his roster if they come up short again. Riley will seek to add an elite offensive interior player who can command double teams in the post in the mold of an Andrew Bynum or Dwight Howard, and Wade will be the trade bait.
  2. Carmelo Anthony: Ever since their days as high school rivals, Anthony and James have had tremendous respect for each. Despite James’ dominance over every player in the league he matches up against, his close friend Anthony is his kryptonite–and James knows it! If Anthony can channel his inner Bernard King and have a legendary series, the Knicks could pull off a stunner.
  3. Mike Woodson and Eric Spoelstra: The respective coaches of the Knicks and Heat both have a lot at stake. Woodson wants to be the permanent coach, while Spoelstra’s job is on the line as Riley is always lurking. Edge: Woodson

Overall, the East is tough. The Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics are capable of beating anyone, but it will be the Knicks, Heat and Bulls at the top of marquee come this weekend.