Notes From the Knicks 106-87 Victory Over Toronto

I like the way the Knicks are playing. Lets keep this in perspective though.

Yes, the Knicks are 4-0 since Mike D’Antoni was replaced by Mike Woodson. They are playing very well on both ends of the court, but lets keep some perspective. Toronto is not a good team. They’re 15-31 for a reason. The Knicks dominated Toronto defensively and overwhelmed them offensively, scoring 50 points in the paint. They obliterated the Raptors, as well they should, but there are a few glaring things this team must improve on. Any win is a good win when you’re a 22-24 8th seed, but the Knicks are not out of the woods yet.

Here are my notes from the game:

  • This was the second straight game in which the Knicks didn’t shoot well from outside the arc. Despite their 19 point victory, the Knicks shot just 5/16 from downtown. On Saturday against Indiana, the Knicks shot just 7/24. One of the Knicks big deficiencies under D’Antoni was their inability to consistency hit 3’s. In Woodson’s first two games, the team shot very well. These last two games, not so much. You could say that I’m micro-analyzing and being a critic. Here’s the truth. To beat the great teams, Chicago, Miami, etc. the Knicks will have to hit their 3’s. I understand they played Saturday’s game on a back to back and may have just had a bad shooting game tonight, but this team is going to have to get consistent shooting 3’s.
  • My second gripe with this game is free throw shooting. This is a problem. It’s been happening all year. They cannot consistently hit free throws, which will hurt them down the stretch and in the playoffs. The Knicks missed 10 free throws, 22/33 69%, tonight. That is completely unacceptable. I understand that 3 of the 10 misses came from Fields and Chandler, who are bad free throw shooters, but that is no excuse. Those are two guys that are going to play a lot for this team and they need to capitalize on free points. Carmelo Anthony also missed two free throws. The Knicks currently rank 19th in the league in team free throw shooting percentage. I understand that free throws aren’t everything, but for the Knicks they are important. New York’s stars have not been stars this year and the team as a whole has failed to mesh. Two or three missed free throws may be the difference in winning or losing an important game or even a playoff game. The Knicks have to improve this.
  • My last gripe is the Knicks propensity to switch on defense. Tonight, a lot of Toronto’s offensive production came when the Knicks switched on defense. Often times, Jose Calderon was being guarded by Amar’e Stoudemire while Carmelo Anthony was trying to box out 7’0 center Aaron Gray. As good as they were defensively tonight, the Knicks could have been a lot better. Mike Woodson is notorious for coaching his defenses to switch. That cannot happen with this team. If the Knicks were going to do 1-2 switches or 2-3 switches, I could live with it. There are times when New York is doing 1-5 switches and ending up with their point guards guarding the opposing team’s center. That cannot happen against good teams. Like the free throw shooting, switching has been a problem all year for this team. It is yet another thing the Knicks must improve on before they can reach the elite in the Eastern conference.
  • Now the good stuff!
  • The Knicks played very unselfishly tonight. I loved the ball movement I was seeing from the entire team, and that includes Carmelo Anthony. Jeremy Lin had 10 of the Knicks 23 assists. Eight of the eleven Knicks that played in the game recorded an assist. The sky is the limit for this offense when they distribute the ball like this. This style of play was Mike D’Antoni’s vision. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out for him, but I’m happy to see the offense working for Mike Woodson. I hope the Knicks can continue to play this way.
  • Can Ciara come to every game? Amar’e Stoudemire’s ex-girlfriend, music artist Ciara, was at the game tonight. Stoudemire had a real nice game, scoring 22 points and pulling down 12 boards. His vertical still wasn’t Stoudemire-esque, but he played an excellent game. I liked his effort on the boards tonight. His put-back at the end of the 3rd quarter was one of the biggest baskets in the game and led to the Knicks pulling away from Toronto in the fourth quarter. Also, Stoudemire’s dog, Spudd, was sick. The Knick power forward tweeted pictures of him going for a pre-game walk before the game. If there’s anyway to get Ciara to every game and Spudd sick, not fatally of course, before every game I am all for it. Good dog:

  • I thought Linsanity was dead? The NY Post had a ridiculous picture of a tombstone proclaiming that Linsanity was dead. It’s not. Sure, Lin isn’t scoring 30 points a game, but nobody thought that would keep up. Lin’s numbers were going to go down with the returns of Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony and the signing of JR Smith. The league has adjusted better to defend Lin, but that does not mean Lin is ineffective. Far from it. The Knick point guard was very good tonight. He had 18 efficient points, 6/10 shooting, and 10 assists in 29 minutes. Over his past five games, Lin is averaging 14 points on 50% shooting and 7 assists per game. He is playing some quality basketball right now, so I will proclaim that Linsanity, in fact, is still alive.
  • The Knicks only turned the ball over 11 times tonight. Turnovers have been a problem all year for the Knicks. They weren’t tonight. In fact, the Knicks have improved their ball security in this four game winning streak. They have only turned the ball over an average of 13 times a game under Mike Woodson, having 11 turnovers in each of their past three games. Jeremy Lin, who apparently couldn’t help turning the ball over, has only turned it over an average of 3.4 times a game over his past five. The Knicks are doing a much better job of being efficient with ball security and the results are paying off.
  • Toney Douglas was dusted off the bench tonight. In his first appearance since the Mesozoic era February 15th, Douglas did not play well in three minutes of garbage time. There has been a lot made lately of whether Douglas should be inserted into the rotation. He shouldn’t. Plain and simple. Something is not right with Douglas. There are rumors that his shoulder is not yet healthy and there are rumors that he is dealing with a personal problem. I love Toney Douglas. I had supreme confidence in Douglas at the start of the year. I want him to be successful, but its apparent to me that it’s just not going to work out this season. He’d be better off just sitting on the bench, hopefully learning from the coaches, and coming back strong next season. Given the Knicks plethora of expiring contracts and deficiency in roster flexibility, there should be a role on next year’s team for Douglas. He’ll continue to play in some garbage time blowouts, but I don’t think there’s any way that Toney Douglas re-enters the rotation this year. I hope Douglas the best and I hope he gets his game right for next year because the Knicks will need him.

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