I’m all that encouraged by the Knicks performance today. Apart from the second quarter, the Knicks were not a good basketball team today. They couldn’t shoot a lick, something we’ve seen over the past 11 games now, and they couldn’t respond at all when Miami turned up the intensity after halftime. The second quarter was a ton of fun, but the other three quarters were tough to watch. There were some positives though. For the fourth time in 5th games, Carmelo Anthony attempted double digit free throws. Jason Kidd had maybe his best game of the season, possibly breaking out of a prolonged slump of terrible three point shooting. Sans the end of the first quarter, I thought Stoudemire was solid and the Knicks did well to get him some open dunks at the rim.
What does this loss mean? Not all that much. It confirmed what we all kind of thought. The first two Knicks-Heat games were not that indicative of how these two teams match up. Though the Knicks are built to beat Miami, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who thinks they actually can in the playoffs. This was a bad loss for New York. Leading by 14 at halftime, the Knicks had plenty of opportunities to close out the game, but instead lost the second half by 20 points.
Here are my notes from the game:
- The Knicks shot just 8/29 from three point range tonight. I wrote before the game that the Knicks had to hit threes if they wanted to beat the Heat. It wasn’t like the Knicks didn’t have opportunities today. I’d have to go back and watch the film, but I remember at least five wide open threes that they missed, and I’d think there were probably about four or five others. JR Smith was the main culprit of this, shooting jut 3/14 from beyond the arc. If Smith hits a few of those, obviously it’s a different game. Steve Novak was also 0/3 on three pretty good looks. I hate the adage “Live by the three, die by the three” because we’ve seen that teams can be successful consistently shooting a ton of threes, but the Knicks really did die by it today. They had plenty of chances to hit shots and just didn’t execute.
- On the post game inter-webs, I’ve seen some debate about whether or not Stoudemire should’ve been playing down the stretch. Woodson sat him for about the final 7:56 of the game, a decision I agreed with. I understand the rationale that the Knicks needed more scoring down the stretch, but I would argue that they had chances to score and didn’t execute. Smith missed four threes in the final period, some of which were completely wide open. The floor spacing allowed Felton to get to the rim, something he did twice for buckets in the final minutes. I think the bigger issue down the stretch was that coach Woodson was unable to get Anthony the ball in positions he could succeed in. Miami was denying Melo the ball, something they did in the playoffs last year, and the Knicks were unable to figure out how to beat it. This is maddening, given that high school teams know how to beat fronts.
- This James White experiment is an absolute joke at this point. Contrary to what Jared Zwerling apparently believes, White is definitely not any sort of combination of Thabo Sefolosha and Andre Iguodala. He is quite terrible and was so again today. He played about 8 minutes and was a -6, the difference in the game, in those minutes. White recorded three fouls, had zero points, air-balled a floater and had two turnovers. I’m not sure what Woodson hopes to accomplish by continuing to start White, as he brings absolutely nothing to the table. I’d be surprised to see this fiasco continue, but at the same time I wouldn’t be all that surprised. Woodson has done this kind of pointless thing with Kurt Thomas and he’s definitely a stubborn guy.
- He was a -17 on the game, but I thought Iman Shumpert played well in his 21 minutes played. I agree with Woodson’s decision to leave him off the floor in the 4th, given that the Knicks needed offense, but Shumpert does seem to be playing better. This is the third or fourth game in a row I’ve thought this. His offense still isn’t there, 0/3 from beyond the arc today, but his defense is certainly better and he looks more aggressive. I thought he moved the ball nicely as well.
- Final bullet today goes to Jason Kidd, who looked much like the efficient spot up shooter we saw earlier in the year. Having missed 14 straight threes coming into the game, I felt like he might hit a few tonight, but he performed much better than I could’ve anticipated. Not only did he hit four of his five threes, and I believe the one he missed was a buzzer beating heave, but he was active defensively and he even got to the rim once off the dribble. This is a good sign, in my mind. He was interviewed at halftime and he didn’t look winded or tired. While I think he has been tired the past month or so, I’m encouraged that it looks like Kidd can pick up the intensity. He looked much more locked in and much more active on both ends of the floor. I loved what we saw from him.
Tomorrow night the Knicks take their talents to Cleveland to face off against the Cavs. That’s a team that always plays the Knicks tough, so I’m expecting the Knicks to struggle. Hopefully they can prove me wrong, as they need to pick up all the wins they can get moving forward. The late season schedule is brutal and they need to take advantage of match-ups like this.
Follow Taylor on Twitter @tarmosino