The “Zen Master” Strikes Again

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Wednesday afternoon, the “Zen Master” showed us once again why he earned such a prestigious nickname.  Don’t know what I’m talking about?  That’s okay, I’m going to fill you in.  Who needs ESPN when you have DaveTalksSports right??  Phil Jackson made a splash yesterday by making his first trade as New York Knickerbockers President.  You would be hard pressed to find some one with a brain to tell you this was a bad deal for the Knicks.  The Knicks will be shipping Tyson Chandler back to the Dallas Mavericks along with Raymond Felton for Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, Shane Larkin, Wayne Ellington, and 2 2nd round picks (34th and 51st) in tonight’s draft. 

For starters, I can’t believe the Knicks were able to offload Raymond Felton (Hey Ray, don’t forget to register those guns in Texas…..oh what it’s Texas, never mind).  The Knicks get a definitive upgrade at the point guard position in acquiring Calderon.  Calderon is going to do exactly what a “true” point guard is supposed to do.  He is going to manage the floor, limit turnovers, knock down the open 3-pointer (which he showed he can certainly do), and most importantly keep the ball out of Carmelo Anthony’s hands (assuming Melo is still on the Knicks next season).  The other thing that most people probably don’t realize is that Calderon is one of the best free throw shooters in the NBA.  Now, you’re probably saying that’s not a big deal, but when you think about it, clutch free throw shooting is often the difference between winning and losing.  The Knicks do commit to Calderon for 3 years seeing as he is under contract, but this is the type of point guard Phil Jackson wants in his “Triangle” system anyway, thus making the $8 million per year easier to swallow.  The Knicks do take an obvious downgrade at the center position by bringing in Dalembert, but he can play some semblance of defense and give you 8 points and 8 rebounds on a consistent basis.  And most importantly, he is an expiring contract.  Even if Tyson Chandler goes back to Dallas and returns to his 2011 form, the Knicks still cleared his $15 million from the salary cap.  As for Larkin and Ellington, these are 2 young players that could turn in to solid role players.  They are in the wait and see category, which is exactly what this Knicks franchise NEEDS!!  Rebuilding while also having a solid foundation if Melo comes back?!?!  Who could have thunk up that genius idea? 

Now that Phil Jackson has gotten his feet wet, I am excited to see what he does with his 2 draft picks this evening.  This is easily the best part of this trade by the way.  No, it’s not that the Knicks are going to find the next Michael Jordan with the 34th or 51st pick, but it is the concept of draft picks that I love.  That sounds silly to say, but if you are a Knicks fan then you know EXACTLY what I mean.  I am also intrigued to see how many more tricks Phil has up his sleeve.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he finds a team with plenty of salary cap space to take on Amar’e Stoudemire or Andrea Bargnani a year earlier than anticipated.  This would give Phil immediate flexibility to chase free agents.  I think the moral of the story is: Never Doubt The “Zen Master”.

 

If you enjoy my writing, follow me over to intheneutralzone.com where I am a contributing author there as well. Also you can follow me on twitter @DaveEttinger2 or like me on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/DaveTalksSports. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it!       

We Take The Good With The Very Bad

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Just when you think the New York Knicks are heading down the right path, they turn around and drive the wrong direction on a one way street. On the heels of good news comes devastating news. With a smart pickup comes a head scratching decision. There is simply not enough time in New York Knicks land to enjoy one of their managerial moves. For those of you who aren’t quite sure what I’m talking about, the Knicks have agreed to a 2-year deal with Metta World Peace (a deal worth $3.2 million and has a player option on the second year). At the same time the news of this signing broke, the horrifying news of J.R. Smith’s knee surgery hit “news stands”. All you twitter children out there are probably saying uhhh, what’s a news stand? Now I know it’s hard to figure out which is the good news and which is the bad, but rest assured I’ll clear it up for you.

Metta World Peace is a slight risk at all times, but if he plays the gritty physical defense we know he can then the reward will outweigh the risk. Personally, I like the signing because he brings to the floor exactly what the Knicks lack; psychotic tendencies. Even at the ripe ‘old’ age of 33, the artist formerly known as Ron Artest can still contribute at the defensive end. Now while I like the signing, World Peace is not the savior for the Knicks franchise (like some unrealistic and over zealous Knicks fans think). J.R. Smith is also not the Knicks savior, but he is an integral part of the Knicks game plan. And that is why it was horrifying to learn that just weeks after the ink dried on his 4-year, $24.7 million extension, Smith is currently laid up after patellar tendon surgery and arthroscopy on a torn meniscus. Such a surgery will require 3-4 months recovery time, and trust me Smith will never be the same again. Of all the absurdly stupid decisions the Knicks have made in the past, this is by far the most ridiculous. The Knicks claim to have known that Smith would need surgery for his chronic and gradually worsening injuries. ARE YOU SERIOUS RIGHT NOW?!?!?! Did the Knicks not learn anything from the Amar’e Stoudemire disaster? To answer my own question, obviously not! This is worse than the Amar’e Stoudemire deal by a landslide because even if Smith returns healthy and produces at a high level, you should learn from your mistakes. That is the first thing parents teach their children, but obviously Glen Grunwald’s parents nanny didn’t remember to teach him that one. Here’s a bit of advice for every president or general manager of a club thinking ofsigning a player with a chronic injury to a long term deal; DON’T DO IT! The Knicks are as poorly a run franchise that you’ll ever find. The end.

If you enjoy my writing, follow me over to intheneutralzone.com where I am a contributing author there as well. Also you can follow me on twitter @DaveEttinger2 or like me on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/DaveTalksSports. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it!

Knicks To Sell The Farm For Andrea Bargnani

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Well it was business as usual for the New York Knicks on Sunday night. What do I mean? Oh I’ll tell you have no fear. Despite the Knicks “success” last season, the Knicks usually rival the New York Jets and Mets for head scratching managerial moves. Sunday night, the Knicks continued on their path to who knows what. The early reports indicate that the Knicks will trade Steve Novak, Marcus Camby, their 1st round draft pick in 2016, AND (yes there’s an and) 2 future 2nd round draft picks for Andrea Bargnani. The Knicks will also have to sign and trade a player to make the trade work, but that would be a nobody so let’s not stress over that part of this atrocity. Now, some of you are probably saying to yourselves, “but Bargnani is better than Novak and Camby, so why are you ripping this deal a new one”? Yes, Marcus Camby is older than dirt and Steve Novak is useless unless he’s WIDE open, but if I’ve taught you nothing else I’ve taught you that everything is about money (and in this case it’s about their dim future as well). Obviously if I could get Bargnani for just Novak and Camby, I’d be doing backflips right now, unfortunately the world doesn’t make that much sense. Bargnani is set to make 22.25 million dollars over the next 2 seasons compared to Novak and Camby’s combined 8.7 million salary. For a team that has little to no money to spend, it is mind boggling why they would decide to shell out this much money for Bargnani. Before I get into the draft picks, let me give you a little history lesson on Bargnani. Andrea Bargnani was the 1st overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft. Originally from Italy, Bargnani has called Toronto home for the past 7 seasons. Unfortunately due to injuries, he hasn’t played more than 31 games over the past 2 seasons. Amar’e junior?? All joking aside that’s pretty much what he is. Bargnani plays next to no defense (that’s Amar’e). For someone who is 7’0″ tall, he should be embarrassed that he’s averaged 4.8 rebounds per game for his career (that one’s really Chris Bosh but that’s also Amar’e). Kevin Durant gets 8 rebounds a game by accident (I’m just saying). The Knicks rebound the ball really well and play amazing defense at the power forward position, so they should trade for someone who does none of that. For those of you who didn’t catch on there, that’s what they call sarcasm. Now follow me down here as I delve into the numerous draft picks that the Knicks gave up for absolutely no reason.

This trade is bad on so many levels, but the fact that they continue to trade their future away as if they have a present is the worst part. Knicks ownership is convinced that they can win now. The only problem is with Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani in your front court, you can’t win ever (forget now). I’m ecstatic that ownership wants to come out of pocket to try to win a championship, but if you’re going do that you should fill some needs rather than repeat your mistakes. As mentioned earlier, the Knicks will be shipping off 3 future draft picks (a 1st rounder and 2 2nd rounders). Really? REALLY?!?!?! Why do you think the Knicks only had 1 draft pick in last weeks NBA Draft? Ownership must think that if you can’t see it it doesn’t really exist (kind of like the wind). Anyway, the Knicks are instantly better on paper because they gave up a pile of scrap metal for Bargnani. However, it is the financials and future draft picks that will cripple the Knicks for years to come. What do you think of the trade? Tell me in the comment section below.

If you enjoy my writing, follow me over to intheneutralzone.com where I am a contributing author there as well. Also you can follow me on twitter @DaveEttinger2 or like me on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/DaveTalksSports. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it!

1 Down 2 To Go

I’m glad I was wrong about the New York Knicks (for game 5 at least). The Knicks handled their business by beating the Indiana Pacers by a score of 85-75 Thursday night, at Madison Square Garden. They stared elimination in the face and came out on top with a solid team effort. Now, they will travel back to Indiana for game 6 where they’ll look to extend the series to a decisive game 7. In order to do that they will need to duplicate their effort from game 5. And what did they do in game 5 to earn a victory you ask? I’ll tell you, just calm yourself please.

There were multiple reasons that contributed to the Knicks win Thursday night, but one sticks out above all the rest. And that reason is……Ah, I’ll give you a hint: What wins championships? Ah yes, Defense. The Knicks swarming team defense remains the most important aspect of this series. And last night the Knicks showed the energy required to hold the Pacers to 75 points, and to force 19 turnovers. Those are the numbers they’ll need to see night in and night out if they are going to win this series. The Pacers are inept offensively to begin with so this shouldn’t be too difficult. Plus, George Hill will most likely not play in game 6 due to the concussion he suffered in game 4. The NBA has strict policies when it comes to concussions, and it seems that the process of getting Hill back on the floor could take at least a week. As for the Knicks offense (which has seemed rather inept itself as of late), they showed a balanced attack that found 4 players in double figures. It wasn’t so much the scoring that was so key (considering they only scored 85 points themselves), it was the fact that more than Carmelo Anthony was taking and hitting shots. Raymond Felton hit some timely jump shots, and he also remembered that he is allowed to drive into the paint and force the defense to make quick decisions. J.R. Smith decided to hit a couple of shots as well (which was really nice of him don’t ya think? Thanks J.R.), but he still needs to play better. He needs to take the ball to the basket, period. It was also the fact that Jason Kidd and Amar’e Stoudemire were left on the bench while Pablo Prigioni and Chris Copeland actually saw some playing time. Playing Prigioni is smart because he is truly a team player. He is a pass first point guard who can also hit an open shot when asked. More importantly he infuses the kind of energy that I’d love to see from everyone on the roster. Playing Copeland stretches the floor in a good way because he’s big and he can shoot the three ball. Coach Mike Woodson tried going big in game 4 and that backfired because Kenyon Martin is useless offensively unless he’s catching a pass off of a high pick and roll going toward the basket. Woodson needs to stick with what works for game 6, and implore his team to give it their all. If they do that and show the kind of urgency necessary for another elimination game, than they just might force a game 7.

I’m not going to lie to you; I thought I was watching a team that was going to throw in the towel last night. After their game 4 performance, the lifelong Knicks fan part of me said, “hey I’ve seen this before; they are going to give up now”. But, to their credit, they didn’t. They fought through game 5, and I think they are capable of fighting through game 6. I am still skeptical of the Knicks though, seeing as they haven’t strung 2 solid performances together in about 14 years. Plus, don’t forget game 6 will be played in Indiana. However, I believe the absence of George Hill and the pressure that is mounting in the Pacers heads will prove to be too much or them to overcome. This will be no easy feat for the Knicks, but I think they can pull out a gritty win on the road and force game 7 back home. Tune in to ESPN on Saturday night @ 8:00 P.M. to watch the Knicks and Pacers battle it out in game 6. 89-87, Knicks.

If you enjoy my writing, follow me over to intheneutralzone.com where I am a contributing author there as well. Also you can follow me on twitter @DaveEttinger2 or like me on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/DaveTalksSports. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it!

Melo Scores So Much It’s Offensive

New York is home to the best show on TV, The Carmelo Show. Carmelo Anthony has been on fire as of late and he stayed lit Sunday afternoon. Carmelo Anthony scored 36 efficient points in Oklahoma City against the Thunder. Thanks to Melo’s offensive onslaught (and a little help from his friends) the Knicks pulled out a 125-120 victory. This win brings the first 50 win season to New York in 13 seasons. This also brings Carmelo’s astonishing scoring average to a blistering 41.75 points per game over his last 4 games. There is only word that can truly explain Carmelo Anthony right now; unconscious. He is now the leading scorer in the NBA, but more importantly the Knicks have now won 12 games in a row. As I’ve stated before, the Knicks are a streaky team who rely on the three ball. Right now they are shooting the ball well, and everything seems to be going in no matter where they shoot it from. The positive to be taken away is the types of threes that are being taken. When the Knicks were playing poorly they were jacking up a lot of contested three-pointers (ahem, JR). Now that they are winning again they are taking good open shots. These open shots aren’t created on their own, they are created from good ball movement and penetration. All of these things can be attributed to Carmelo Anthony, JR Smith, and Raymond Felton’s ability to drive into the lane and kick the ball out to the open man. At the same time, when they decide not to pass the ball it’s because they have an open driving lane to the basket. This is a recipe for success for now and the future.

With the Knicks latest success, all the “experts” who wrote them off are all slowly making their way back on the bandwagon. As I see each of these flip-floppers try to sneak their way on to my wagon, I sound an alarm that has their seat eject them back to wherever they came from. I understand that this is New York and the media attention that teams receive here is unbelievable, but we need to avoid the knee-jerk reaction. Everyone should have realized that the Knicks were decimated by injury and had a ridiculously tough schedule in the beginning of March (which included that tough 5 game road trip). This coupled with the lack of chemistry between Amar’e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, and Tyson Chandler contributed to the teams struggles. Also, I shouldn’t forget to mention that Iman Shumpert wasn’t 100% healthy until just recently, and Jason Kidd and Steve Novak went ice cold at precisely the same time. So, I’m glad I’m the only one out there that didn’t serve them with the death penalty. Anyway, the Knicks are playing great basketball, and we can only hope that this style of play and intensity continues throughout the playoffs. The Knicks still shouldn’t overlook anyone they face in the playoffs, but it looks like they can give the Heat a run for the money if it should come to that. Tune in to MSG network Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. to watch the Knicks take on the Washington Wizards at home. They will look to keep the good times rolling and attempt to extend their winning streak to 13 games.

If you enjoy my writing, follow me over to intheneutralzone.com where I am a contributing author there as well. Also you can follow me on twitter @DaveEttinger2 or like me on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/DaveTalksSports. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it!

No Superstars No Problem

On a night where the Knicks got some devastating news, they stood up against adversity together; as a group. For those of you who haven’t heard, Amar’e Stoudemire is having a procedure done on his knee that will cause him to miss at least 6 weeks. It is the same procedure he had done on his right knee, only this time it will be done on his left knee. This news comes at a time where Stoudemire’s game was finally in full swing. He was showcasing possibly the best stretch of offensive efficiency of his career, and he finally looked like he was “getting” it defensively. However, with Carmelo Anthony already sidelined with a bum knee, the Knicks would be without both of their stars Saturday night. To that they said, no problem. They went ahead and mopped the floor with the Utah Jazz. They beat them by a score of 113-84. As usual, the Knicks started out slowly finding themselves in an early hole, 11-4. Before you knew it the Knicks went on a 15-0 run, and the rest is history. It truly was a team effort as the Knicks had 5 players in double figures. Kenyon Martin filled in very nicely in Amare’s absence, and the Knicks could use more solid play from Martin the rest of the way. Steve Novak also added 5 3-pointers. The best part of this victory was the style of defense the Knicks played. Each and every member of the Knicks was swarming around the ball and forcing turnovers left and right. It is that style of play that the Knicks must continue in order to make some noise in the Eastern Conference (especially when Melo returns). With Carmelo out of the lineup it seems that the Knicks will have to turn to J.R. Smith as their leading scorer. As long as Smith can continue to attack the basket, he should be up for the task. The problem with Smith is when he becomes a ball handler or confuses himself with Steve Novak, he gets into trouble. For example, when he dribbles too much, he makes poor decisions. And when he decides to strictly be a shooter, we get to see the ugly side of Smith’s game. He is far too streaky to carry a team like the Knicks on his back while shooting 10 or more times from outside the arc. All in all it was an inspiring performance the Knicks put forth against the Jazz. Not only did they show the rest of the league they can win without their two stars, they showed that they can demolish a playoff contender. We shall see if the Knicks can continue their solid play Monday night at 10:30. The Knicks will be in Golden State to take on the Warriors. This is the first game on their treacherous 5 game road trip.

If you enjoy my writing, follow me over to intheneutralzone.com where I am a contributing author there as well. Also you can follow me on twitter @DaveEttinger2 or like me on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/DaveTalksSports. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it!

Melo Jr. Gives It His All

Well apparently the Knicks didn’t get the memo about Kevin Durant.  He is a beast in the 4th quarter!  Durant scored 12 of the Thunder’s 20 points in the 4th quarter and they won the game 95-94.  J.R. Smith and the Meloless Knicks gave it their all against one of the best teams in the league, but it just wasn’t enough.  J.R. Smith did his best Carmelo impression last night scoring 36 points on 29 shots.  He played a good game off the “bench”, but he couldn’t beat the Thunder by himself.  Raymond Felton and Amar’e Stoudemire both added 16 points, but the offense was pretty inefficient as a whole (they shot 40% from the field and 32% from 3 point range).  Believe it or not, the Knicks actually had a 6 point lead heading to 4th quarter, so it makes sense that they got outscored by 7 points in the 4th quarter (haha, figures).  That leads me back to my original point.  Kevin Durant is the best player in the NBA that is not named Lebron James.  The Knicks obviously didn’t realize that.  They should have been double teaming Durant in the 4th quarter and forced someone else to beat them.  Outside of Durant and Westbrook, no one else on the Thunder took more than 7 shots.  If you had doubled them and forced Serge Ibaka or Kevin Martin to beat you, I bet you would have had some success.  Unfortunately, the Knicks decided to go one on one with Kevin Durant, and he killed them when it mattered most.  I have to put most of the blame on Coach Woodson.  Mike Woodson keeps preaching that it doesn’t matter who starts games, it only matters who finishes games.  Well Mike, you continue to screw up the lineups at the end of games so what exactly are you talking about?!?!  How you don’t have Amar’e Stoudemire in against the Heat down the stretch is beyond me.  Plus last night he did the same thing with Tyson Chandler sitting him for 5 and a half of the most crucial minutes of the 4th quarter.  How many times do I have to hear about the questionable moves and substitutions from Woodson before someone questions him as a great coach?  People think because the Knicks have a good record that he must be doing a great job, but I’m here to tell you that their record could and should be even better.  Woodson needs to pull his head out of the sand and start managing his roster properly.  For starters, I like Kurt Thomas, but send him off to the nursing home already.  Secondly, James White should be a star in the D-League, not A STARTER on an NBA roster (let alone on a good NBA roster).  The next step for Woodson is to get Melo 100% and bring he and Amar’e back to the starting lineup together.  This will infuse some instant offense into the starting lineup and will keep them from getting down early in games.  It will also bring some size into the starting lineup, and while Amar’e is not a great rebounder, he’ll certainly grab more boards than James White or Kurt Thomas.  Everyone questions Amar’e’s defense, but everyone’s defense on this team is questionable besides Tyson Chandler.  At least Amar’e is trying on the defensive end, which is more than you can say about Steve Novak.  Is he not the worst defender in the NBA?  I defy you to find a worse defender in the entire NBA than Steve Novak.  Woodson should leave J.R. in his role as the 6th man, because it would make no sense to have 2 “Carmelo’s” on the floor at the same time.  If Woodson continues to bring Jason Kidd in as the backup point guard, Kidd can manage Smith’s personality and mold him in to a well-rounded basketball player.  As for size, defense, and toughness the Knicks have Chandler and need to hope and pray that the combination of Kenyon Martin and Marcus Camby can help in those departments.

Let me get back to last night’s game.  The Knicks should take only positive notes away from this loss to the Thunder.  Think about it this way, did anyone in the world besides a completely biased Knicks fan think they were going to win that game last night?  No chance in hell.  I personally thought they were going to lose by 10 points.  The fact that they had a lead heading into the 4th quarter and only lost by 1 point without their top scorer is an impressive feat if you ask me.  It would have been a nice game to steal since they have an insane schedule in March, but they should feel good about themselves moving forward.  The Knicks have a much needed day off on Friday, but will be right back in action Saturday night at home against the Utah Jazz.  Maybe we’ll see Carmelo Anthony back in uniform by then.  Either way, tune in to MSG @ 7:30 P.M. to watch the Knicks beat the Utah Jazz.

If you enjoy my writing, follow me over to intheneutralzone.com where I am a contributing author there as well.  Also you can follow me on twitter @DaveEttinger2 or like me on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/DaveTalksSports.  Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it!

Sloppy Joes Anyone?

The New York Knicks can be described by a simple formula.  As long as the good outweighs the bad, it’s okay.  Wednesday night at the Detroit Pistons, there was plenty of bad but just enough good to win a basketball game.  On a night where Carmelo Anthony wasn’t able to suit up, the Knicks played a sloppy brand of basketball.  They had 20 TURNOVERS!!  For a team who only averages about 12 turnovers per game, that’s some pretty ugly stuff.  The majority of the turnovers were committed by Raymond Felton (he had 7).  Felton however, scored 26 points and was one of main reasons the Knicks beat the Pistons.  The final score was 87-77 as the Knicks were carried offensively by Felton, J.R. Smith, and Amar’e Stoudemire.  Collectively they scored 68 of the Knicks 87 points.  As you can tell by the turnover totals and the final score, this was a hard game to watch.  I think I actually fell asleep for 5 minutes or so in the middle of the game.  Hopefully tonight’s game will be a little more interesting and technically sound.  Tonight the New York Knickerbockers host Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder.  You can find this game on TNT at 8:00 P.M.  There are questions going around today about Carmelo’s health and whether or not he’ll play tonight.  I personally don’t think the Knicks have a chance to win this game either way, but Carmelo really needs to man up and get out there.  Everyone else can buy into his little “injury”, but I guarantee you he is not hurt.  He needs to grow up and start putting his team first.  Right now, the Knicks need to play every game like it’s their last, because seeding in the Eastern Conference is going to be crucial in the playoffs.  So Melo, even though I know you will never read this page, STOP BEING A BABY, RUB SOME DIRT ON YOUR KNEE AND GET OUT THERE!!  For those of you who are scratching your head as to why someone would rub some dirt on their knee, allow me to elaborate.  As a baseball player, when you get hit by a pitch, your teammates (whom are often road scholars) will tell you to rub some dirt on it and run to first base.  Anyway, Melo really needs to man up and take a page out of Kobe Bryant’s how to manual.  Kobe should clearly be Carmelo’s biggest role model.  Melo like Kobe is a shoot first All-Star.  The only difference (and by only I mean the 8 differences between Kobe and Melo) between Kobe and Melo is that Kobe has that life or death mentality ingrained inside of him.  Kobe is going to do anything and everything his team needs in order to win, including playing hurt, playing defense, and hustling from the opening tip until the final buzzer every night.  Carmelo needs to infuse those characteristics into his personality.  Then maybe other players, media, and fans won’t question his dedication when he misses a game with a questionable injury.

As for the game tonight against the Thunder, the Knicks need to go on one of their 3-point shooting rampages to have a chance to win.  I personally want to see the Knicks shoot less 3-pointers, but in a game without Carmelo Anthony, they need to get a huge game out of Amar’e and Chandler down low to open up the court for the outside shooters.  This is the only chance the Knicks have to beat the Thunder tonight.  And for the love of god, can Coach Woodson please stop fighting common sense and put Amar’e Stoudemire in the starting lineup.  I understand that he wants to keep Jason Kidd out of the starting lineup (and I agree with him there) and with Carmelo Anthony hurt he needs to find another starter, but James White AND Kurt Thomas are the answers to those questions?!?!  Coach Woodson is obviously confused.  At the beginning of the season, I liked what Woodson was doing.  The Knicks were playing defense and he had Melo giving it his all, but now Woodson just looks like an average coach that doesn’t know how to handle his roster.  The Knicks should hang tough in this game tonight because it’s at home, but I see the Thunder pulling ahead in the middle of the 4th quarter and winning by 10 points, 108-98.

If you enjoy my writing, follow me over to intheneutralzone.com where I am a contributing author there as well.  Also you can follow me on twitter @DaveEttinger2 or like me on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/DaveTalksSports.  Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it!

Phantom Injury Sparks Comeback

Let us rewind to Monday evening at around 8:00 P.M.  The Knicks were getting BLOWN OUT by the Cleveland Cavaliers.  We were witnessing one of the most embarrassing performances of the year in the NBA.  The expletives that were flying around my head are words I would never dare say out loud.  The Knicks looked like they were running in quick sand.  They looked sluggish, and lazy, and they were playing uninspired basketball.  During the 1st quarter, you saw the Knicks go from up 2 points to down 10.  However, the 2nd quarter is where the flood gates opened.  The Cavaliers led by Marreese Speights, simply couldn’t miss.  Speights went a perfect 10 for 10 in the 1st half.  This is a Cavaliers team who is ranked dead last in field goal percentage.  Was it the Knicks poor defense that contributed to the Cavaliers offensive explosion, or was it simply a hot streak that couldn’t be stopped?  I’d like to think it was a combination of both, but the Cavaliers were shooting 81% from the field and found themselves with a 22 point lead less than four and a half minutes into the 2nd quarter.  Yes you read that right, the Cavaliers were beating the Knicks by 22 in the 2nd quarter.  Then, in a blink of an eye, everything changed.  With 6:48 left in the 1st half, Carmelo Anthony caught an outlet pass near half court.  As he caught the pass he tripped over his own two feet and fell down.  It looked awkward, it looked like it could have been slightly painful, but all in all it didn’t look too serious.  Carmelo Anthony picked himself up and walked (not limped) his way to the locker room.  Minutes later, we found out that he would not return to the game.  Amar’e Stoudemire took Anthony’s place in the game, and sparked an immediate comeback.  In just over one minute, the Knicks cut the lead from 22 to 15.  The Cavaliers quickly took a timeout and tried to regroup.  That did not help, as the Knicks cut the lead back to single digits.  The Knicks accomplished this by attacking the basket and cutting down on their three point attempts (other than J.R. Smith).  J.R. Smith added a much needed 18 points but went 1-7 from three-point range.  Smith is very athletic and can pretty much get to the basket at will.  He needs to concentrate more on that and spend less time jacking up countless three pointers.  With a combination of Amar’e Stoudemire’s effective post game and efficient outside shooting by the rest of the team, the Knicks staged an epic comeback.  The Knicks scratched and clawed their way back into this game and with four minutes left in the 3rd quarter, the score was knotted at 64.  The Knicks turned up the heat on defense and held the Cavaliers to just 13 points in the 3rd quarter.  These teams battled back and forth throughout the rest of the game, but in the end the Knicks proved to be too much for the Cavaliers to handle.  They pulled out a tough (much needed) victory, 102-97.

When Carmelo Anthony went down for the count in the 1st half, the Knicks found a way to pull together and storm their way back into this game.  It was truly a team effort led by Amar’e Stoudemire.  Amar’e scored 22 points on 10 of 15 shooting from the field.  Running the offense through Amar’e allowed the Knicks to play a nice inside out game.  If Amar’e wasn’t able to take the ball to the hoop aggressively, he kicked the ball out to an open man.  The Knicks found effective outside shooting from Jason Kidd and Steve Novak.  Novak made four timely three pointers, while Kidd added three of his own.  It’s nice to see Jason Kidd find his stroke, as he added 12 points off the bench.  Mike Woodson still seems to have a problem with Iman Shumpert though because he seemed to find his stroke as well in the 1st quarter.  He hit three of his first four shots but only racked up six total shots for the entire game (in 19 minutes).  I really hope that Woodson is just being cautious with Shumpert’s knee because the Knicks are going to need his production on both ends of the floor if they have any plans of making a run in the playoffs.  I find myself using the same expression over and over again, but ‘a win is a win’ no matter how it looks.  For now that might work against the Cavaliers and the Wizards, but come playoff time that is not going to cut it against the Miami Heat (if they get that far).  The Knicks have a much needed day off today, but will continue their road trip against the Detroit Pistons, Wednesday night at 7:30 P.M.

If you enjoy my writing, follow me over to intheneutralzone.com where I am a contributing author there as well.  Also you can follow me on twitter @DaveEttinger2 or like me on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/DaveTalksSports.  Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it!

So Close But Yet So far

Lebron James is better than Carmelo Anthony.  It is as simple as that (it also doesn’t hurt to have Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh on your team too).  Sunday afternoon, Lebron showcased his all around skills and proved why the Heat are the team to beat in the NBA.  This basketball game was a tale of two halves, and it took a turn when the best player in the world took the game over.  The Knicks opened the game with loads of energy, and Madison Square Garden seemed to be filled with that “playoff” electricity.  The Knicks played a nearly perfect first half and at one point had a 16 point lead over the Heat.  Carmelo Anthony came out on fire and hit 4 out of his first 5 shots.  He also got to the free throw line 4 times in the first quarter, hitting 8 out of 9 free throws.  Jason Kidd finally woke from his slumber and decided to hit 4 three-pointers in the first half.  As a Knicks fan I loved what I saw in the first half, but I had this sneaking suspicion that the Heat weren’t down for the count.  A 14 point halftime lead was cut to only 4 with 6:52 still left in the third quarter.  How did that happen you say?  Well, Chris Bosh came out of the locker room like a bat out of hell, scoring 7 points in the first 3 minutes of the third quarter.  Now, the Knicks showed great perseverance stretching the lead back out to 11 points with 2 minutes left in the 3rd quarter.  And from there it was the Lebron James show.  Lebron took the responsibility of guarding Carmelo Anthony for the entire 2nd half.  Lebron shut him down, limiting Melo to only 8 2nd half points.  He also helped the Heat close the 3rd quarter on an 8-1 run, cutting the lead back down to 4.  Melo did start the 4th quarter with a quick basket, but Lebron came right back and hit the two biggest shots of the game.  He nailed back to back three-pointers tying the game at 79.  Both teams traded baskets over the next couple minutes, but when the Heat took the lead with 4:28 to go, they wouldn’t relinquish the lead for the rest of the game.  The Knicks still had a chance when they were down 4, with the ball, and 30 seconds to play, however what transpired next became the nail in the coffin for the Knicks.  J.R. Smith threw a lazy pass across the top of the key toward Carmelo Anthony.  Lebron jumped the passing lane, stole the ball, and threw down a ferocious dunk.  This put the game out of reach, and the Heat won 99-93.  This has also officially put the Eastern Conference out of reach.

The name of this game was defense.  The Knicks started the game with great intensity.  They were playing solid team defense.  They were doubling, and switching, and rotating perfectly in their defensive assignments.  This kept the Heat’s offense at bay and allowed them to sustain a lead throughout the entire 1st half.  Lebron though, headlined the defensive attack for the Heat in the 2nd half.  Like I mentioned earlier, he completely shut down a tired Carmelo Anthony and forced the rest of the Knicks to beat them (that obviously did not happen).  The Heat’s swarming defense forced 18 turnovers by the Knicks.  This is very uncharacteristic for the Knicks who only average just over 11 turnovers per game.  The turnovers were crucial in this game, and they all seemed to come at inopportune times for the Knicks.  On top of his stellar defense, Lebron also added 29 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 assists (just another day at the office).  This is clearly Lebron’s team, but everyone needs to realize just how fortunate he is to have such a talented player by his side.  Dwayne Wade had 20 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists.  Combined they shot over 50% from the field, and were just 2 rebounds and 5 assists away from having 2 TRIPLE DOUBLES.  It’s basically unfair, but I’ll save my excuses for a later date.  We all know how good the Heat are, the story here is the Knicks and their confused lineup.  I like Mike Woodson finally making a move in changing up the starting lineup, but JAMES WHITE?!?!  I know it’s not a real thing, that it’s just a move to bring Kidd off the bench, but JAMES WHITE?!?!  James White shouldn’t be on an NBA roster, and he is starting for the third best team in the Eastern Conference?  Are you serious Mr. Woodson?  You might as well call up the Oklahoma City Thunder and try to get Ronnie Brewer back.  At least when he started games for the Knicks, they were winning.  What the Knicks need to do is insert Amar’e Stoudemire into the starting lineup at the 4, and allow Shumpert and Melo to slide down into their natural positions to the 2 and 3 respectively.  This will allow Melo to roam free offensively and not take on the task of guarding power forwards on the other end of the floor.  Amar’e can still manage to stay under 30 minutes per game, and should keep the Knicks from getting down early in games.  This has been one of the biggest parts of the Knicks downfall over the last two months.  Coach Woodson should also go back to resting Carmelo Anthony at the start of the 4th quarter.  Melo is not a guy who can play 40-plus minutes every night and still remain effective.  No matter what the Knicks do with their lineup going forward, they need to play defense and scale back the amount of three-pointers they shoot.  It makes them too streaky, and streaky in the NBA doesn’t win Championships.

If you enjoy my writing, follow me over to intheneutralzone.com where I am a contributing author there as well.  Also you can follow me on twitter @DaveEttinger2 or like me on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/DaveTalksSports.  Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it!