Heat Struggles a Cautionary Tale for D'Antoni

Knicks coach juggling stars as team goes through transitional period, but keeps winning

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    MIAMI, FL - FEBRUARY 27: New York Knicks head coach Mike D'Antoni looks on during a foul shot during a game gainst the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on February 27, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

    There are constant concerns for an NBA head coach even with a Dream Team: finding minutes for a roster full of talented players, keeping everyone happy, and most importantly, winning.

    Three-quarters of the way through the season, Miami Heat coach Erick Spoelstra understands those struggles better than most.

    Spoelstra's challenges may also spell a cautionary tale for Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni, who has Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups. The new-look Knicks have been together for two weeks now and so far, so good. But D'Antoni is aware of the pitfalls.

    "It's hard," D'Antoni said, according to the New York Daily News. "It's hard because they have a bunch of guys that have come together and they've got to figure things out. It takes awhile. When your main core is together for a few years and you add pieces and change pieces it doesn't change that much.

    "But when you change your identity ... I feel it's tough. And Erick is right in the firestorm. It's not easy. People need to give everybody time to get through it ... a little bit like us now."

    Perhaps the Knicks don't have the strong personalities of LeBron James or Dwyane Wade. Or New York's personnel and coaching staff are just a better fit. Whatever the reason, one thing is for certain: Winning mitigates other distractions that are deemed newsworthy when you're losing.

    The Heat have dropped four in a row; the Knicks, on the other hand, are 4-3 since Anthony and Billups arrived.

    The fact that New York continues to win with its best players sidelined also helps matters. Billups injured his leg last Tuesday against the Magic and hasn't played since. The Knicks are 2-1 in his absence. Anthony was poked in the eye and didn't make it out of the first quarter of Sunday night's game against the Hawks, a game the Knicks won by 13 points.

    New York is still finding its identity. That's what happens when you shake up the roster midway through the season. But unlike other superstar-laden teams, the Knicks are quietly making it work.

    "The reality is that teams need time to come together. They need to go through tough times," D'Antoni said. "It's how you go through the tough times and once you come out on the other side makes you or breaks you. For us right now it's a tough time. We have to go through this and get to the other side. Miami is the same way."