The New York Knicks have given us their best season in well over a decade which is what’s making these past few nights of watching them so difficult. This isn’t the team who entertained the hell out of us with their wide open three-point chucking offense, veteran savvy and career years from Carmelo Anthony and JR Smith. We are watching a great year go down in flames and the Knicks seemingly go down without much of a fight. So in the name of calm and rational analysis
WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON OUT HERE?
Let’s start with the Indiana Pacers who DID have the NBA’s best defense this season and statistically one of the best defenses of the past 10-15 years. It isn’t like the Knicks are struggling to score points on the Charlotte Bobcats. The Knicks have mixed up their looks and approaches on offense and there has been open shots for Carmelo Anthony’s supporting cast…open shots that were made all season…open shots that are being missed now.
This is of course led by JR Smith, the team’s number two scorer all season and Sixth Man of the Year who has devolved into the worst version of himself. He is shooting at a higher volume than ever with a progressively worse shot selection and can’t even hit 30% from the field.
Jason Kidd had stretches of being a knock down three point shooter this year. He is currently mired in an epically long and brutal funk. Seven games. Seventeen shots. ZERO points. Ray Felton has had a strong post-season but laid an egg in Game 3. Iman Shumpert has had a strong post-season but laid an egg in Game 4. Tyson Chandler is being man-handled by Roy Hibbert.
Pablo Prigioni has had his minutes inexplicably cut back. Chris Copeland is barely in the rotation. Steve Novak is out of the rotation.
The out-put around Carmelo Anthony isn’t enough and Anthony himself isn’t playing well. His efficiency has dropped off in the post-season and been nonexistent in this series, outside of one quarter in Game 2. He has been shut down completely in the fourth quarter of the previous two games and is struggling with the Pacers defense collapsing on him, along with dealing with Paul George constantly on his hip. Just like his supporting cast…he hasn’t been good enough.
The superstar hasn’t been good enough. The supporting cast hasn’t been good enough. The head coach hasn’t been good enough. Substituting Kenyon Martin into the starting line-up was a flawed, knee-jerk reaction. You don’t mess around with the line-up and style of play that got you 54 wins. You aren’t beating Indiana at their own game. You beat them with your game.
So now the Knicks head back to Madison Square Garden down 3-1. If I’m Mike Woodson, I’m looking in the mirror and congratulating myself on my facial hair THEN I’m going back to my two point guard starting line-up with Pablo Prigioni and Ray Felton in the backcourt. Jason Kidd is playing half of his usual minutes, with Prigioni seeing extended time. JR Smith is playing his usual minutes and Chris Copeland is coming off the bench, not Amare Stoudemire. Play your small ball. Shoot your 3s. Have Prigioni harassing George Hill the full length of the court and hope a young Pacers team doesn’t have the needed killer instinct on the road.
Just get one win. Live to fight another day. Every game that passes without Indiana closing you out…that much more pressure shifts back on to them.