Knicks-Heat Game 5: What to Watch For

Tonight, the Knicks try to keep their season alive down in South Beach. Headed into this pivotal game 5, the already short-handed Knicks will be even more short-handed. Thanks to an almost comical (yet incredibly depressing) set of events, the Knicks will be down to their 4th and 5th string point guards tonight. Jeremy Lin’s knee is still not ready to play on, Baron Davis shredded his knee in game 4 and Iman Shumpert blew out his knee in game 1. New York will rely on the crypt-keeper, Mike Bibby, to run the point tonight.  Welp… we’ll also see Toney Douglas get some run tonight. Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire led the Knicks to victory in game 4, scoring 61 of New York’s 89 points, and they’ll have to do it again tonight. I think they can do it and I feel surprisingly optimistic about the game tonight.

Here’s what to watch for: Continue reading

Isola: Knicks Working on Contract Extension For Mike Woodson

On Sunday, the Knicks won their first playoff game since 2001. Now, it looks like the man who piloted them to that victory is going to stick around for a while. According to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News, the Knicks are now in talks with current interim-head coach Mike Woodson about a contract extension. With Woodson looking like the guy, other rumored candidates Phil Jackson and John Callipari seem to be completely out of the running. Isola’s report did not mention potential terms of the contract, but I would estimate terms close to 3 years and in the ballpark of 10-15 million dollars. Woodson has done a good job since taking over for the much maligned Mike D’Antoni. The Knicks finished out the season 18-6 in Woodson’s 24 games as head coach and have won a playoff game for the first time since the French Revolution, albeit having played poorly the rest of the series versus Miami. Continue reading

Knicks Win First Playoff Game Since 2001

It is finally over! The Knicks have finally won a playoff game. It took an NBA record 13 losses before they could get this victory, but that is now irrelevant. Sunday’s thrilling 89-87 Knicks victory over the Miami Heat was just awesome. There’s no other way to describe it. Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire led the way, as the tandem scored 61 points. Did the Knicks play a great game? No way. Sure, Miami didn’t bring their A game, but I could care less. The Knicks won a playoff game for the first time since 2001 and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Here are my notes from the game: Continue reading

Analyzing Amar’e Stoudemire’s Awesome Defensive Rotation

There were 54.5 seconds left in the game. New York cradled a delicate 87-84 lead over the powerhouse Heat. Down 3-0 in the series, this was do-or-die time for the Knicks defense. Miami ran a high pick and roll between Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. Bosh did well to quickly slip screen into the paint while both Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler were focused on Wade. The much maligned Amar’e Stoudemire made an awesome defensive rotation to push Bosh out to the baseline, where he then threw the ball into a back court for a turnover. Carmelo Anthony was fouled from three point land on the next possession and the rest is history. In this post, I am going to analyze how Stoudemire made the defensive play of the game for the Knicks.  Continue reading

Knicks-Heat Game 4: What to Watch For

In all likelihood, the 2011 Knicks season will come to an end this afternoon at Madison Square Garden. As we all know, the Knicks are down 3-0 against the powerhouse Miami Heat. Miami optimizes what the Knicks hope to one day become, although the Knicks sit miles away from that level. In game 4, the Knicks will try to snap their NBA-record 13 game playoff losing streak. For the Knicks, very little has gone well in this series. Carmelo Anthony has been horrible, shooting 34%, Tyson Chandler has been sick and ineffective and Amar’e Stoudemire sidelined himself by punching a fire extinguisher after game two. New York has been stagnant and ineffective on offense and unable to slow down the Heat stars on offense. It has been a complete disaster of a series for the Knicks.

In game 4, the Knicks will be playing for pride. To play devil’s advocate to my usually pessimistic self, the Knicks do have a slight chance of winning this game. Defensively they did with Miami in game 3 for the first 3 quarters before LeBron James put the game away with 10 minutes to go in the 4th. In game 2, the Knicks played Miami evenly for about 38 minutes of the game, but were killed by two separate 5 minute stretches in that game. There is a chance that Amar’e Stoudemire returns this afternoon, but I wouldn’t bet on it. I know he’s saying he wants to play and that he did in fact practice yesterday, but I just can’t see it. He posted that nasty picture of his hand yesterday, which looked like he had a baseball seam stitched onto his palm. As you can see in the picture, it is pretty clear to me that the meaty portion of his hand was in fact hanging off. I have a really difficult time he’s going to be recovered enough from almost losing a portion of his hand, to then playing a basketball game in a matter of days. Even if Stoudemire plays, he will have that hand covered up and nobody knows how effective he’ll be. We’ll see what happens today, but I would expect… well, the norm. I think the Knicks will be outplayed and they will lose. I hope I’m wrong, but I doubt it.

Here’s what to watch for:  Continue reading

Disappointing Knicks Fall Again in Game 3

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: Continue reading

Knicks-Heat Game 3: What to Watch For

The Knicks have lost 12 straight playoff games. They have not won a playoff game since the 2000-2001 season. They have not won a playoff series since their improbable run in 1999, led by Ewing, Houston and Spreewell. New York’s long standing drought of playoff success has taken form into a metaphorical Berlin Wall for not only the Knicks, but their fans. With every disappointing loss after disappointing loss, the wall only gets bigger. We know the Knicks aren’t going to win this series, but can we at least get a playoff win out of these Knicks? Will a single playoff win tear down the metaphorical Berlin Wall of playoff failure? Absolutely not. But a win tonight would instill a bit of sanity back into the fan base as well as the team itself. It is one thing for the Knicks to lose playoff series. They weren’t better than Boston last year (although they got jobbed in game 1) and they’re not better than Miami this year. But to get swept in both series is just damn embarrassing. Even the Dwight Howard-less Magic and the mediocre Philadelphia Sixers have found ways to get playoff wins so far this year. It is the Knicks turn. The past is the past. They’ve got to start taking serious hacks at this gigantic wall of failure, and that starts tonight at 7 PM at Madison Square Garden.

Here’s what to watch for: Continue reading

How the Knicks Can Win Game 3 and the Return of Lin and Amar’e

I know at this point most have conceded the New York Knicks will get swept by the Miami Heat. They have won the first two games by 617 points, I got it.

Transparent note #1 – I thought the New York Knicks could win this series.

Transparent note #2 – I still don’t think the series is over despite the popular belief.

Game One was a complete disaster, no questions asked, no way around it. There were multiple factors going into why it was so bad, but I’ll leave that alone here, no point in looking back.

Game Two was a huge improvement. The Knicks lost because they lost focus for about a five minute stretch. New York was down 45-43 with 2:09 left in the second quarter when the Heat took a timeout. After the TO Miami went on a 6-0 run to go up 53-45 with 29 seconds left. 3:35 left in the third quarter the Knicks trailed 71-66 coming out a Heat timeout. Score at the end of the third quarter 78-69, a four point swing. Add those two mini runs together that’s 10 points, which means the rest of the game was dead even.

Then after the game, the Knicks caught the break they desperately needed with Amar’e Stoudemire intelligently smashing his hand into glass/fire extinguisher. If you don’t realize why this is good take five minutes and do a little research. That’s a story for a separate column.

If Knicks head coach Mike Woodson wasn’t so incredibly stubborn forcing Carmelo Anthony and Stoudemire to play at the same time, this wouldn’t have been needed. There was a simple way to work the rotations even if you had to start STAT to keep him happy to make it work, but Woodson wouldn’t do it. For the Knicks to have a chance Amar’e needed to go.

Which brings us to Game Three and the adjustments that must be made so we can all watch Game Four on Sunday for a chance to really make this a series.

Woodson needs to start Tyson Chandler, Carmelo Anthony, Steve Novak, J.R. Smith and Baron Davis.

That group is the Knicks best five for the rest of this series and I want it to get run against the Heat’s starting unit of Haslem, Bosh, LeBron, Wade and Chalmers.

With those two groups against each other Haslem or Bosh is going to get stuck guarding Steve Novak. Novak has taken five shots this entire series, with one of those two guarding him it will be much easier for New York to get him open looks. If Fields is in the starting line-up instead of J.R. Smith Miami puts Chalmers on Baron, LeBron on Melo, Wade on Novak and Haslem/Bosh on Fields/Chandler, which isn’t nearly as much of a mismatch.

Another reason you start the above five is by the time you get to them about midway through the first quarter when J.R. Smith comes in for Fields, Erik Spoelstra will go to a Bosh, LeBron, Wade, Mike Miller, Chalmers line-up which takes away all the cross matching the Heat will have to do with the starting group. I figure the Knicks can get four or five minutes at the beginning of the first and third quarter where they can take advantage of Spoelstra’s love Udonis Haslem.

I got to touch on Game Four real quick. Even if the Knicks beat the Heat in Game Three, they would be absolutely out of their minds to bring back Jeremy Lin and Amar’e Stoudemire. Why would you screw up a good thing? And if they do both should come off the bench. If Woodson starts Stoudemire and Lin in Game Four after the Knicks win Game Three that would be just as bad as anything Mike D’Antoni has ever done.