Where do I begin? I guess I’ll start from the very beginning and try to work my way through this tragedy without feeling sick to my stomach. Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals was played Tuesday evening. The New York Knicks played the Indiana Pacers in Indiana with the Pacers leading the series 2 games to 1. The Knicks being the higher seed in the playoffs started the series with home court advantage. However, with the beat down they took from the Pacers in Game 1 in New York, the home court advantage shifted to Indiana. The Knicks could have stolen back their home court advantage with a win last night and evened up the series at 2 games apiece. Instead, as I’m sure you all know by now, the Knicks put forth a lackluster performance (again) and lost by the score of 93-82. That final score, if you ask me, did not accurately depict the way this game was played. The Knicks were outplayed in every aspect of the game, and very easily could have been run right off the court. The series is now lopsided at 3 games to 1 in favor of the Indiana Pacers. While game 5 will be played in New York, that fact is completely insignificant to the outcome of this series. The New York Knicks do not look like the 2nd best team in the Eastern Conference. Right now they don’t look like they deserve to even be in the playoffs. We all know that the regular season determines who makes the playoffs. However, we also know that the regular season means absolutely nothing compared to the postseason. The focus and the mentality of every team in the playoffs should shift to one centralized goal: Win The Championship! This is the part that I am having a hard time understanding. Doesn’t every player in professional sports work their butts off for a chance to win a Championship? And wouldn’t you think that you would see every last ounce of energy poured out and left on the floor night in and night out? So why is it that the New York Knicks look like they’re simply going through the motions right now? Last night’s game in Indiana was hands down the BIGGEST game of the year for the Knicks. And, I didn’t see the urgency that such a situation should have warranted. Everyone can talk about J.R. Smith’s struggles, the elderly members of this roster, and how Carmelo Anthony is too selfish, but I don’t see any of these issues as the biggest problem for the Knicks. What I see is a team that lacks the heart, and the desire, and the balls to the wall effort that is necessary to win. What I see is a team that is being outhustled, outworked, and outeverythinged right now. Yes, I made up a word, live with it.
As I mentioned last week and every week of the regular season, the Knicks blueprint for success starts with their defense. I have seen their defensive efficiency and energy in spurts this postseason, but I haven’t seen sustained effort for an entire game or series. The Knicks don’t seem like a team that wants to win a game 79-76, and that needs to change. A W is a W no matter the score. It doesn’t matter what the games look like as long as you come away with a win. Sure, it’s more appealing for fans to watch Melo and J.R. Smith jack up outside shots all day, but that is not how you are going to win this series, or a Championship for that matter. And if, and that is a big IF, they can get their defense to the place it needs to be, then they can figure out their offense (and that is very easy if you ask me). Everyone and their mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, and cousin know that Carmelo Anthony is going to shoot the ball once it lands in his hands. All he has to do is make a move toward the basket, draw some form of a double team and pass the ball (if they don’t double we all know he is capable of putting the ball in the basket). Yes, I know it’s a lot to ask the Knicks roster to hit open shots from a Carmelo Anthony pass (ahem, Jason Kidd), but if it happened more often maybe they would start knocking down open shots (ahem, Jason Kidd). Side note: Jason Kidd should retire. He can talk all he wants about his intangibles, but I don’t care one iota about that. He Sucks with a capital s. Anyway, J.R. Smith’s offensive struggles are the easiest to figure out. I know I sound like a broken record, but if Smith takes the ball to the basket he scores. If he shoots it from the outside, he makes 1 out of every 7 shots. Next question. Oh, and Smith is a moron. Last but not least, is the mental state of the New York Knicks. I love the Knicks, and I always have, but have you ever seen a bigger bunch of crybabies in your life?? Yes, the referees are not perfect, in fact they are pretty bad, but after every single foul call Raymond Felton, Tyson Chandler, or whoever it is throws their hands in the air and cries to the heavens about the horrible call. To that I say, “GROW UP!!” You need to recognize that there are always going to be bad calls throughout every game, but the quicker you move on to the next play the better off you’ll be. If the Knicks could stop complaining and keep their composure, maybe they would be up 3 games to 1 instead of down 3 games to 1. And that’s all I have to say about that!
Do the Knicks bounce back and win game 5 on their home court? Even if they lose do they go down swinging? My heart certainly hopes so, but my brain is telling me something different. The Knicks will go down in 5 games on Thursday night on their own court. This season will become an enormous disappointment, and we can all enjoy a long and arduous offseason. It’s that simple. Enjoy golf season J.R. Smith!