I didn’t do an “Uplifting things and disconcerting things” piece after the Knicks knocked the Celtics out on Friday night, partially because my Macbook charger randomly decided to stop working, and partially because there really wasn’t anything disconcerting at all about Friday night’s elimination of the hated Celtics, right? People told me there was something crazy that happened in the 4th quarter, but I don’t really remember that so I’m assuming nothing bad happened.
Yesterday the Knicks entered the second round of the playoffs for the first time in forever and it was a dud. Let’s take a look at how and why that happened before we delve into the Knicks’ task of avoiding a 2-0 deficit on Tuesday.
An uplifting thing: The offense of the Knicks’ starting backcourt, Raymond Felton and Iman Shumpert. If Shumpert scores in double digits with some level of efficiency, the Knicks should win more than they lose (provided they get from their top players what they should, which of course is not quite happening at the moment). Felton has been the Knicks’ consistently best player since Game 4 of the first round. Yesterday he had a lot of success in the pick-and-roll, and was the only Knick who realized it might be smarter to pull up for a floater or a short jumper, thus avoiding Roy Hibbert’s 76-foot wingspan, than is it to barrel into him. The way the whistles were going yesterday, it made no sense to continually bump with Hibbert and try to shoot over him, and Ray seemed to get that.
A disconcerting thing: Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith went 14-42 from the field. The Knicks won 54 games in the regular season with them as their top dogs, and both have to start hitting some twine quickly and consistently. Anthony was the main culprit in going after Hibbert. Yes, had the game been officiated by different people than yesterday’s crew, Hibbert could have very well been in foul trouble. But it was fairly clear early on that they were going to let Hibbert do what he wanted, and the Knicks didn’t really adjust to that. Admittedly, that’s hard to do, because it’s a basketball best practice to go to the rim, no? Going to forward, the Knicks need to get Hibbert out of the paint (Amar’e Stoudemire could help here), or make him pay for sagging on pick-and rolls or helping in the post (which means Tyson Chandler making himself available for dump off passes or lobs).
An uplifting thing: Three different people will be refereeing on Tuesday. Allow me go off on a bit of a tangent here, but I don’t see why it’s seemingly impossible to criticize officiating while not crying that there’s a bias or conspiracy. There were so many sneering tweets when the Knicks crowd was chanting “THESE REFS SUCK!!!” as if the fans were actually incorrect. They weren’t. Those refs sucked. And yes, many people are indeed dopes who cry that the league is against the Knicks or against Carmelo Anthony or whatever, which I think is nonsense. But that doesn’t also mean the refs were doing their jobs well. There were crap calls both ways that stunted the game’s rhythm. So keep on chanting, MSG faithful.
And yes, as a Knicks fan I hope that whoever refs tomorrow night doesn’t quite allow Roy Hibbert to get away with as much as he did on Sunday. Because while Hibbert did do a damn fine job protecting the rim, he made obvious contact plenty of times, too.
A disconcerting thing: The Knicks didn’t run a lot of iso and still really struggled to put the ball in the hoop. No, really, it’s true. I know whenever the Knicks have a hard time scoring it’s because TOO MUCH HERO BALL FROM MELO AND JR PASS THE BALL BALL MOVEMENT WINS THAT’S WHAT DEBUSSCHERE DID. However, check this out:
Knicks ran 15 ISO’s,54 pick and roll. 4th quarter: 10 pick and roll, 7 ISO’s. So they went away from ISO in this game, struggled.
— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) May 5, 2013
See! It’s not as easy as “no iso”. The Knicks are at their best when they vary their offensive sets. They got way iso happy against the Celtics and it hurt them. The Knicks a good pick-and-roll team, a good 3-point shooting team and yes, a good isolation team. Anthony is one of the best iso players in the game, period. It’s not about never going iso. The Knicks won 54 games in the regular season playing a certain style, one that included clear outs for Melo and Smith sprinkled in among other creative sets. They can’t change now.
An uplifting thing: It took me about 43 minutes to officially despise the Indiana Pacers again. Maybe that’s a disconcerting thing?