Dec 7, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) controls the ball against Cleveland Cavaliers small forward LeBron James (23) during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Keys For Playoff Success — Against Cleveland, Specifically

Zach: Before anything, the Knicks would — probably — need to advance beyond the first round. And, well, that’s unlikely. If the playoffs started to today, the 14-13 Knicks would be the six seed and Cleveland would be the first, meaning they couldn’t match up until the Conference Finals came around.

If that happened, the entire team would need to play nearly perfect against an MVP-level LeBron James, a Kyrie Irving who’s in his prime and a Kevin Love who finally looks comfortable in the backseat of the championship truck. It would start with running Cleveland off the three-point line and forcing as many twos as possible, followed up by a vehement attack of both the defensive and offensive backboards.

The chances of the Knicks getting out of that series are slim, but pushing the series beyond five games would shatter expectations.

Billy: Taking down Cleveland will certainly be no easy task for the Knicks, but there seems to be some semblance of a formula to take down the defending champs. The first step is realizing that no matter who you put out there, LeBron is going to get his. Make it difficult, force him to slow the game down, but, ultimately, let him score in the post. The men you have to defend vehemently on the offensive end are Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. As good as LeBron is, he can’t beat you by himself.

For the Knicks, they need to use the versatility of their front court to neutralize the Cavs’ rim protectors. If Kristaps and Melo can drag Tristan Thompson out to the perimeter, they open up the lane for Derrick Rose’s patented drives, where he can either finish at the hoop or dish to an open shooter. Either way, they need to make sure that Cleveland’s best defenders can’t hang out in the paint all night.

Chip: The Knicks beating LeBron James and the Cavs in four out of seven games is something that would only happen in an alternate universe.

But for the sake of argument let’s take a look at the keys to this outlandish scenario playing out.

First key: LeBron James must be hurt.

Second key: Carmelo Anthony must score 30 points in every game.

Third key: They must guard the three-point line (17th in opponents three-point percentage) and crash the boards (29th in defensive rebounding percentage).

I'm obsessed with basketball. I play (my hesi pull-up Jimbo is cash), I write and cover the Nets here at ESNY. My work has been seen on Bleacher Report, Sports Illustrated and FanSided. I also run my company, TBN Media. My favorite NBA player is Isaiah Thomas because I can look him in the eye.