Oh how sweet it is. The new look Knicks kept the momentum from Friday’s win going this afternoon as they defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 104-84 at Madison Square Garden. Carmelo Anthony was absolutely fantastic on both ends of the court, scoring 27 points on 18 shots and making countless great plays on defense. The offense was efficient once again, shooting 50.6% for the game. JR Smith chipped in with a cool 20 points on 8/15 shooting. Defensively, the Knicks were great as has become the norm with this team. Sixers not named Jrue Holiday shot just 37.7% for the game and the Knicks forced more turnovers then they committed. Up 13 in the final minutes, Mike Woodson put in the Knicks human victory cigar. Rasheed Wallace came in, grabbed some rebounds, dished an assist and made a shot. All around, it was a great afternoon for the Knickerbockers.
Here are my notes from the game:
- I could not be more impressed with Mike Woodson in these first two games. I, like many, had numerous concerns about Woodson’s offense coming into the year. From what we had previously seen in his stint as the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks, Mike Woodson’s offense was one that was based heavily on isolation sets. Given that Carmelo Anthony is his featured offense in New York, I feared that he would run that same offense here. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Through these first two games, the Knicks offense has looked nothing like the Woodson offenses of old from Atlanta. We’ve seen Anthony as the featured player, as he should be, but not how we would think. Anthony has not been used in isolation as much as we thought. Woodson has done a good job of designing the offense to get Anthony touches in positions where he can succeed. We’ve seen a lot of Anthony in both the high and low post, places where he will succeed. As a result, the defense has been doubling down a lot on him. Anthony has done a great job, especially in this game, of effectively passing out of double teams. New York has done a great job swinging the ball which has set up a lot of open jump shots. We have also seen a lot of off-ball movement from this Knicks offense. Lots of off-ball screens to set up open shooters. Lots of screens that have caused the defense to switch and get the Knicks more favorable match-ups. There is a lot to like about what we’ve seen from this Woodson offense and I think this style of basketball is sustainable. In terms of pace, the Knicks have been somewhat slow offensively, but that should tailor to this personnel. There’s no secret there is a lot of old players on this club and this is a long 82 game season. This isn’t the D’Antoni Suns. The Knicks don’t have the legs to just run up and down for 82 games. I like the more methodical, half-court offense. I think it will suit these guys very well moving forward. Woodson seems to have connected with this club in a way D’Antoni really didn’t, at least in the Melo era. The Knicks have bought into what Woodson is selling. They’ve played hard on defense and they’ve been unselfish on offense. I think both of those things can be attributed to Woodson’s ability to connect with this group of players. Great job by the coach so far and there isn’t a reason why this style of Knicks basketball can’t continue.
- Melo Anthony or Carmelo Tony or whatever you want to call him, he was great today. An efficient 27 points on 10/18 shooting, five rebounds and great defensive effort. I think this might have been the best defensive game we’ve seen from Anthony. He had 2 blocks, a steal and absolutely battled in post defense. Offensively, Anthony made quick decisions once he got the ball in his hands. As he should be, Anthony attacked the rim early and often today and it worked. He had 9 free throw attempts and obviously an efficient shooting game. I thought his willingness to drive opened up some of his mid-range game today and he was able to connect on some of those shots later in the game. Lets take a look at Anthony’s shot chart, via ESPN.com
- You can see that Anthony was operating more in that high-post area, rather than hanging back and shooting those long 2’s that he’s not great at. He had those 4 attempts at the rim, not including shots he was fouled on, where he made 3. The one shot he missed in the paint was simply just a layup that he missed, but overall I loved how he was attacking. Anthony did take 4 three’s on the day, but one of them was as the shot clock hit under 3 seconds and one was a momentum three that he didn’t hit on. Not ideal shots, but you’ll live with them. He spotted up on the other two threes, which is what you want if he’s going to shoot from there. I really loved the way he passed out of the post. As I mentioned earlier, he was able to effectively pass the ball when the double team came to him. He only had 1 assist, but many of his passes resulted in second or third passes that resulted in made shots. When we talk about Anthony being a playmaker and unselfish, this is what we want. He didn’t force shots and try and come over. Anthony let the game come to him and he made the right decision most of the time today. Overall, I loved Anthony’s offensive game. This was the Melo I envisioned the Knicks getting when he was traded here in 2010. He was unselfish, yet dominant. His efficiency and quick decision making were both big keys in the Knicks offense shooting 50% on the day.
- For the second straight game, Jason Kidd was fantastic. 4/8 shooting, 6 assists, a team high +14 in 25 minutes played. I hate to talk in generalities, but Kidd’s veteran savvy was on full display tonight. He was active defensively, jumping in passing lanes and disrupting Philly’s offense. Kidd made some great passes on offense as well. A no look pass to Kurt Thomas was one of the highlights from the game. The 39 year old Kidd even got into the paint and hit two layups today. He did a little bit of everything in this game, which is what the Knicks need from him. Two really good games to start the year for Kidd.
- Tyson Chandler had a flu, which limited him to just 21 minutes played. However, he played at a high level as always in those 21 minutes. Chandler anchored the defense enough to get the Knicks a substantial lead before Woodson did a good job of getting him some much needed rest.
- JR Smith had a good JR Smith game. He didn’t force too many shots, shot efficiently at 8/15 shooting and played hard on defense. I really like the mentality that Smith has taken in these first two games. Less settling for long jump shots and more attacking on both sides of the ball. Offensively he didn’t force a ton of shots. He had a few turnovers when he tried to force some passes, but I like that he was trying to get others involved. Defensively he has taken a few silly fouls, but I’ll live with that. He really is a solid defender when he gives effort and that has been pretty apparent. Nick Young, who played opposite Smith for a good portion of the game, was just 2/10 shooting. There are other factors involved and Young’s performance isn’t all attributed to Smtih, but I think JR did a good job of getting Young out of this rhythm. Smith also had 9 rebounds to go along with 2 steals and 2 assists.
- Prigioni was somewhat unimpressive today. He had two turnovers in 15 minutes, which I think is because he is so passive to shoot the ball. We all know his prowess as a passer, but he has got to show defenses more prowess as a scorer. What happened today was that when Prigioni drove he had open layups, but he passed out of them into turnovers and deflections. Philly was letting Prigioni have his shot and take away his passing lanes. He has got to take those shots or else he’s never going to suck in the defense enough to set up his teammates. I’m not worried though. This was Prigioni’s second career game in the NBA, so obviously he’s still adjusting to the speed and style of the game. He’s got an extremely high basketball IQ and he’ll figure it out.
- One thing that has been worrisome in these first two games is the conditioning of Raymond Felton. He’s been dynamite in the first 8 minutes of the game, but he seems to have been burning out. On Friday, he had a great first quarter and then was quiet the rest of the game. Same with today’s game. I know Felton lost weight, but he doesn’t seem to be in great basketball shape yet. Not sure how the Knicks will deal with it, but I’m sure Mike Woodson sees it too. Woody has been adamant on getting these guys in shape, so maybe some extra conditioning on off-days or practice days will be in the fold for the Knicks starting point guard. Felton has played 33 and 30 minutes respectively in the first two games. I think that’ll be about where he is consistently for the rest of the year, especially with Kidd and Prigioni also in the fold.
- Shockingly, Kurt Thomas got a flagrant in the second quarter for slapping a guy in the face. I’m just shocked it took almost 6 quarters for him to get one.
- Sheed actually has looked good in the limited minutes he has played. He hit a three the other night and looked good operating out of the post in the final minutes today. Granted, he had guards trying to body him up, but he did look good. Albeit he isn’t has quick as he once was, but I think he may be able to contribute down the line. With Kurt Thomas playing 18 minutes tonight, we may see Sheed earlier in the game tomorrow.
- Camby didn’t play today. He isn’t expected to play tomorrow either. The Knicks have three off-days after tomorrow’s game in Philly. I think we’ll see Camby for the first time on Friday against the Mavericks.
Follow Taylor on Twitter @tarmosino
Like Meloship of the Ring on Facebook