The season is over. A sweep is inevitable and the Knicks season will end on Sunday at the Garden. New York now trails Miami 3-0 in this first round series after tonight’s 87-70 loss. Carmelo Anthony came up miles short of his billing, as he finished the game 7/23 shooting. Mike Woodson’s offense was stagnant and ineffective. New York’s inability to consistently score baskets is what did them in tonight. The Knicks were solid defensively, holding Miami to 87 points and forcing 17 turnovers, especially in the first three quarters of the game. Their defense fell apart in the 4th as LeBron James had a masterful quarter. I relate this effect to football in a way. In football, often times you see a team’s defense dominate, but wear down late in the game due to the team’s ineffective offense not being able to put scoring drives together. That is how the Knicks were tonight. Their defense was solid, but miss after miss after miss on offense took its toll. The Knicks were unable to score tonight, which put a ton of pressure on that defense. Eventually, the defense cracked and the Knicks were done for. It was a very disheartening and depressing game to watch. This is one of those nights that I hate being a Knicks fan.
Here’s what to watch for:
- Carmelo Anthony failed miserably tonight. Yes, the Knicks had to go through him. Yes, Amar’e Stoudemire was out. I get it. There was a ton of pressure on his shoulders, but don’t you pay a “superstar” to deliver in these sort of circumstances? Anthony lovers will make excuses and they can do that if they please. They’re wrong. They’re flat-out wrong. Carmelo Anthony failed the New York Knicks tonight. He failed the Knicks and he failed the sold out crowd a Madison Square Garden. Obviously he isn’t trying to fail, but he did tonight. He was worse than his 7/23 stat line would indicate. On a night where his jump shot was clearly off, he settled for far too many jump shots. When LeBron James was defending him, he cowered like a deer in the headlights, refusing to drive to the hoop. Anthony was a miserable -25 on the night in 43 minutes played. Sure, he had some plays where he hustled. He dove on the ground a few times and scrapped for lose balls. Doesn’t matter to me. It’s the playoffs. He’s supposed our “franchise superstar”. He’s supposed to do those things. I don’t applaud that. He failed tonight. The Knicks needed him to be dominant and he was anything but that. Tonight, I may have permanently jumped off the Carmelo Anthony bandwagon. I still think he’s the most versatile scorer in the league, but his performance tonight seriously dissuades me from believing he’s a championship piece. To clarify, I questioned this before these playoffs, but tonight really swayed me. The Knicks aren’t winning a ring with this guy. I’m sorry, they just aren’t. I’ve given Anthony a pass on his now 16-37 career post season record. I can’t do it anymore. There is a reason he has exited the post season in the first round in 8 of his 9 seasons played. In fact, 10 of his 16 wins came in one post season run. So really, in 8 post season runs, Anthony’s teams have only 6 victories. Shameful. Absolutely shameful. Now, this is not necessarily an indictment on Anthony. Should he be better? Absolutely, but he is what he is. Knicks fans have been wrong about him and I have been wrong about him. I take full credit for being completely wrong about what I thought he would be come. I thought he would change his selfish ways and perform to the best of his abilities with the money on the table. I have been so wrong. What has he done here? Lets see, 0-7 in the post season, gotten a coach fired, and he was inept for 3/4 of this season. Anthony has not lived up to his billing since being here and especially not tonight. What’s his signature moment with the Knicks? Two hero shots against the Bulls on a Sunday afternoon? Who cares! He’s done nothing and he’s been selfish and unwilling to play the game in any other way then “Melo-ball”. He refuses to not do it his way. His way is a 16-37 career playoff record, including 0-7 while with the Knicks. “Franchise Superstar”? No way. What a joke.
- I applaud JR Smith’s effort tonight. His defensive energy was fantastic. I thought he did a really nice job guarding both LeBron James and Dwayne Wade. Offensively, he wasn’t great. He did have 2 awesome dunks, but he shot just 5/18 from the field. However, JR really won me over tonight. I always say that the regular season in the NBA doesn’t mean a whole lot to me. I really like to see how guys bring the energy and how they play in the playoffs. JR Smith brought the energy tonight. Now, people may ask me, why do I praise JR and destroy Melo tonight? Here’s why. JR didn’t get a coach fired. As frustrating as he can be, JR Smith does what he’s asked to do. They brought him in to score and he tries to score. Even though his shot selection sucks, that’s what he does. We knew that, and the Knicks knew that. What I love about JR Smith is that he stepped up his ENERGY tonight. I didn’t see that from Carmelo Anthony. In fact, Carmelo Anthony and JR Smith should be held on completely different levels. Smith didn’t leverage himself out of a contract. He didn’t force the Knicks to trade the farm to get him. JR Smith came here to try and help this team. Sure, he’ll go pursue more money next summer and bolt. But you know what, JR Smith came to help this team win and to play in his home city. He brought the energy tonight and was at least elite on one side of the ball. Melo… not so much.
- Mike Woodson needs to go. Now this is not an overreaction type of deal. I’ve been saying this. Mike Woodson isn’t the right guy for this Knick team. He just isn’t. Sure, he’s a solid coach and a real good guy. I like Woody, but the Knicks need a coach who can work the X’s and O’s to get Anthony, Stoudemire and Chandler to play together offensively. I liked some of what the Knicks ran during the regular season, in terms of screens and stuff, but Woodson has completely strayed away from that in the playoffs. The Knicks ran 3000 iso’s tonight and evidently, scoring 70 points on 31% shooting, they didn’t work. It took the Knicks literally 14 seconds to get into all their sets, and the sets all ended in iso’s. It was hard to watch and Woodson even said after the game that he deserved heat for the “stagnant offense”. He’s 100% correct.
- Landry Fields was better tonight. He had a far better first half than second half, but his first half was very good. He had a nice putback, a nice bank shot and a made spot up 3. Hopefully he gained some confidence from tonight’s game. If he can retain that confidence for the rest of this series and beyond, I still think he can be a very solid player. He regressed this season as opposed to last, but I still haven’t given up on Fields. He’ll never be great, but he definitely can be a solid contributor. Tonight showed flashes of that, in the playoffs nonetheless where we hadn’t seen that.
- Jorts was good tonight. I liked the effort and the solid rebounding. Like Fields, he’s another player that should take some confidence from tonights game. Jorts won’t ever be a starting caliber guy, but I think he can develop into a serviceable rotation player. You know what you get with him. Defense, rebounding, some outside shooting and the occasional hook shot. I’ll take a high effort player like Jorts on my team any day of the week.
- Mike Bibby’s last days in New York have been good ones. I thought he was one of the better Knick players tonight. He was 2/4 from downtown and gave the Knicks some good point guard play, as opposed to Baron Davis who gave the Knicks nothing but turnovers. I respect Bibby a lot. What he’s lost in skill, he compensates with heart. He has played very hard for the Knicks, especially late in the year. I like Bibby and he’s garnered my respect.
- Novak was completely misused tonight. Hell, what am I talking about? He wasn’t used at all. There were no screens or anything to get him open looks. Woodson totally dropped the ball on that. Novak is essentially useless if he doesn’t have shot opportunities. The Knicks needed to work to get him looks tonight and they didn’t do it. There were no pick and rolls and absolutely no penetration into the lane or anything. With iso-ball being run every possession, the other 4 players are forced to stand around and watch. With the Knicks settling for so many jump shots, there was no incentive for Miami defenders to leave Novak. Novak was useless tonight, but I don’t hold that against him.
- Amar’e Stoudemire doesn’t get a pass either. Sure, he didn’t play in this game, but the Knicks could have used him. New York could have used a second scorer tonight to help space the floor and Stoudemire could have been that guy. STAT had a good offensive game 2, scoring 18 points on 6/9 shooting. Without him on the floor tonight, the Knicks couldn’t space the floor and the Heat double and triple teamed Anthony. If Stoudemire hadn’t gone awol on a fire extinguisher, I think the Knick offense would have been alot better tonight. Doesn’t mean they would have won, but I guarantee you they would have scored more than 70 points.
- I thought Tyson played very hard tonight. Wasn’t his best game, but he did grab 15 rebounds. Not a ton to say about him. Wasn’t great enough to make a huge impact, but he certainly wasn’t bad either.
- Good riddance, Baron!
- Jared Jeffries also played very hard tonight. His bad knee limited him to 4 minutes played, but he gave everything he had for those 4 minutes. I love Jeffries and I hope he’s back next season. Lord knows that we need him in there.
- Night y’all! Get your black gowns and suits ready for Sunday. I’ll be effectively burying the 2011-2012 New York Knicks right here! STAY TUNED