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What should the New York Knicks playoff rotation be and why?
Joe Caporoso - We aren’t going to see a change to the starting line-up which has anchored this 13 game winning streak – Raymond Felton, Pablo Prigioni, Iman Shumpert, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler. The real question is what will be the health of the various backup Knicks big men and how will Mike Woodson work them back into the rotation?
Let’s assume only Kenyon Martin is back and able to contribute for the first round series. JR Smith, Jason Kidd and Martin will be the first three off the bench, with Smith playing his usual monster share of minutes and Kidd likely working his way on the court for crunch-time. Martin will provide occasional spells for Tyson Chandler and Carmelo Anthony….and fouls…many hard fouls.
Look for Chris Copeland and Steve Novak to be spot/role players off the bench, seeing limited minutes for certain stretches of each half depending on the match-up and how the eight people in front of them in the rotation are faring.
It is hard to fathom how Amare Stoudemire fits into this puzzle but conceivably he could be used as an offensive spark-plug off the bench in certain situations, if he makes his way back. I don’t expect anything from Rasheed Wallace, Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas but if they get back healthy, that is more fouls to use and more depth if Chandler or Martin is banged up.
Chris Celletti - First off, I’d certainly stay with the back court portion of the starting five that has been in tact during the current 13-game winning streak, with Pablo Prigioni and Raymond Felton. Of course you have Carmelo Anthony at the power forward position, where he creates mismatches all over the place, and Tyson Chandler at center, and Iman Shumpert should remain the starting 3, if only for his propensity to knock down threes early in games (hopefully, this keeps up). But J.R. Smith is obviously going to get a ton of time off the bench, as he should, and Jason Kidd is a proven winner who the Knicks signed to help them in the postseason.
The unit of five I would try to squeeze the most minutes out of is Felton-Kidd-Smith-Anthony-Chandler (which shouldn’t be too tall of a task for Mike Woodson considering this is his most popular lineup). According to 82games.com, that unit is a +101 this season, scoring 1.21 points per possession and only allowing 0.97, marks that are among the best on the team. It’s a lineup that can hit you with isos, draw-and-kicks, pick-and-rolls, can definitely knock down the three and play solid enough defense.
If Kenyon Martin is healthy (let’s pray that he is), he should play the bulk of the backup center minutes spelling Chandler. If he can’t go that duty is going to fall to Chris Copeland, whose game is much more suited to wide open, regular season play. Copeland should be a situational player, however, as should Steve Novak for times the Knicks need a shot of offense. Last season the Miami Heat totally shut down Novak, but he still spreads the floor because you have to guard him (and it bears noting that most teams do not play defense nearly as well as the Heat do).
Some teams decide to really shorten their rotation when the postseason rolls around, and while I expect Woodson to lean heabily on his top guys, the Knicks’ depth is a strength and something that can help them in the playoffs too. The Knicks have good situational players like Copeland, Prigioni, Novak and Martin, and all can play a large role in their minutes.
And oh yeah, take your time, Amar’e.
Chris DiGioia - The New York Knicks have virtually no reason to start switching up how the rotation has molded throughout this 13 game winning streak. The two point guard set has been a solid sparkplug with Pablo Prigioni and Raymond Felton. The experience and wisdom of Jason Kidd is a perfect fit at backing up he point guard position, especially if his three-ball is on target.
As for Iman Shumpert, his perimeter defense against the likes of Dwayne Wade, Paul George, or whoever the match-up calls for, is going to be key to the Knicks success. Shump has continued to struggle with his offensive game on a consistent basis, but the emergence of JR Smith can be the perfect scoring compliment to Carmelo Anthony. Smith has averaged over 23 points a game during this Knicks 13 game winning streak, and for that reason he is responsible for a huge part of the team’s late season push. I’ve been saying that if Smith can remain playing with a model of consistency, the sky is the limit for New York.
When it comes to the frontcourt rotation, right now there seems to be one guy the Knicks fans can rely on, and that’s obviously Melo. As for the big men, it’s nearly impossible to pinpoint what the rotation will be. The reason? Only one word comes to mind, health. The Knicks are still in the dark when it comes to the return of Rasheed Wallace, Kurt Thomas, and of course, Amare Stoudemire. The Knicks newfound gem, Kenyon Martin, is now dealing with a knee issue, and it’s undetermined how serious it is. We know that Tyson Chandler will be anchoring the despite the bulging neck he’s been dealing with, and we can only hope it holds up throughout the playoffs.
Kevin Smith – All year long I’ve been lobbying for the Knicks to beef up their front court by starting Melo at small forward and some size, whether it be Amar’e or Kenyon Martin, at power forward, but their 13-game winning streak has finally forced me to come around on playing some small ball. Melo has averaged 39.9 minutes per game in the playoffs as a Knick, but I think this year he’ll play well into the 40s on many occasions this postseason, especially if the big men are still banged up and he’s forced to play center at times.
The way the two point guard set has been working of late, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be featured often in the postseason, but cranking up Iman Shumpert will be most vital to their playoff success. Shumpert simply needs more time to make a bigger impact on the defensive end, but he needs to earn his run over these last five games. A steady balance of J.R.’s offense and Shumpert’s defense could be the perfect solution to Paul George or Dwyane Wade, who the Knicks very well may see upon advancing.
In a perfect world, there will be 25-plus minutes available for any combination of Amar’e Stoudemire, Marcus Camby, Kenyon Martin, Rasheed Wallace, and Kurt Thomas to fill, but at this point they are all question marks and any cameos are just gravy.
Tim Murray - With the way the Knicks have been playing over this 13 game winning streak it will be pretty tough for someone to say with such conviction that they need to do anything other than exactly what they are doing. Their current starting lineup of Felton, Prigioni, Shumpert, Anthony and Chandler is bringing the most out of each player, especially Anthony who is having an unbelievably successful week. It also leaves Kidd and Smith to lead the second line.
The only change I would like to see is the increased minutes of Chris Copeland. When he is given the opportunity to prove himself he responds accordingly; for example last night scoring 17 points on 6-11 shooting, 4-6 from three.
Since the Knicks have been a team that has lived and died by their three-point shooting this season, Copeland is the kind of player that can contribute to that success. Especially since any kind of strong start from behind the arc seems to resonate throughout the team, Copeland could help get them off to that start.