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!

It’s About Damn Time

All I have to say is thank god the Utah Jazz are terrible. It is also nice that Raymond Felton decided to take charge again out there on the court. In a hefty 42 minutes, Felton played a very effective basketball game. He had 19 points on 8 of 12 shooting from the field. To add to his offensive efficiency, he added 4 assists and 3 steals. With Felton, as it often is, his success goes beyond the numbers. He needs to be a leader on his team. The offense needs to run through him not in spite of him. Even when Carmelo Anthony returns, Felton needs to continue to be the orchestrator for the Knicks offense. When Felton turns up the intensity and starts attacking the basket it opens up the court for everyone else. As I pointed out in the 2nd half of their game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Felton seemed to turn his game up a notch (nice to see but too little too late). He did carry that same energy over to Utah with him, and the Knicks got a HUGE victory. While Felton had a solid game (did I mention Raymond Felton played well last night?), the Knicks showed a nice balance throughout the entire game. J.R Smith added 20 points, and Chris Copeland, in his 9th start of the season, added 14 crucial points. Now that the Knicks finally won a game, they also get the added bonus of coming home. The rundown short-handed Knicks went 1-4 on this brutal 5 game road trip. They have been riddled with injuries and inconsistent play for weeks now and nothing can cure their symptoms better than a home cooked meal. Knicks fans are hopeful that Carmelo Anthony will return to action soon, and we are still awaiting an official report on Tyson Chandler’s status. The word on the street is that Chandler has a slight bulging disc in his spine, and should be fine in a weeks time. My advice would be to hold Anthony and Chandler out for as long as they have to in order for them to be ready for the playoffs. I know that winning the Atlantic Division is a big deal, but they will need their two best players at full strength to make a run in the playoffs (no matter their seed). As I mentioned earlier, the Knicks will head home for a much needed night off and will enjoy a good night sleep in their own beds. They jump back into action Wednesday night at 7:30 P.M. against the Orlando Magic. Even without their three best players, I’m predicting another win by the Manhattan Nursing Home All-Stars. I mean another win by the New York Knicks, sorry sorry. Enjoy the game everybody!

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 athttp://www.Facebook.com/DaveTalksSports. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it!

I Aint Mad At Cha

The New York Knicks lost their 4th straight game on the road Sunday afternoon.  However, I can’t really yell at my favorite basketball team today.  They put forth a solid effort against a superior Los Angeles Clippers team.  By the way, Chris Paul is really really good at basketball.  I know everyone knows that, but I felt the need to reiterate that point.  If it wasn’t for Lebron James or Kevin Durant, Chris Paul would be the MVP of the league this year.  His defense is extremely underrated and his patience with the basketball is second to none.  While his defense Sunday was stellar on Raymond Felton, I found it funny that Felton waited until the game was just about out of reach to start playing hard.  Felton scored 8 of his 16 points in the 4th quarter, and he looked good doing it.  He was shaking and baking and taking the ball to the rim with authority.  If only someone, ahem like the coach, had told him to attack the basket in the 1st quarter maybe the Knicks would have had a chance in this game.  The Knicks never had a chance to win this basketball game though, however they never quit.  They kept fighting until the final buzzer, and that is the kind of effort they need to sustain when Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler return to action.  As for the game yesterday, there isn’t much to figure out.  The Knicks starting lineup consisted of Kurt Thomas, Kenyon Martin, and Chris Copeland.  That’s all you need to know to figure out how this game played out.  The Clippers defeated the Knicks 93-80, but not without putting up a fight first.  The Knicks played a tough physical brand of defense yesterday (just ask the Clippers front court if they like Kenyon Martin).  I think Kenyon Martin is really funny by the way.  Every time there is a questionable call against him, he looks at the referee and his eyes do the talking.  So now that we’re assuming that Kenyon Martin’s eyes can talk they say, “Come on man, you know you’re making that call because my name is Kenyon Martin, not because that was a foul.”  Anyway, it was an impressive feat to hold the Clippers high powered offense to only 93 points.  The only problem was the Knicks “C” squad was only able to muster up 80 points (and that included 12 3-pointers).  This game, if for nothing else, should be a nice confidence boost for Steve Novak, Jason Kidd, and Chris Copeland.  All hit 3 3-pointers, and kept their team within striking distance throughout most of this game.  Unlike everyone else in the world, I am not jumping ship on the Knicks, not just yet.  Their success depends entirely on the health of Tyson Chandler and Carmelo Anthony going forward obviously, but I see the Eastern Conference as a toss-up outside of Miami.  If the Knicks get healthy and hot at the right time, they could still make some noise in the playoffs.  For now, they will have to make do with the roster they’ve got.  We will see if they can finally win a game against a desperate Utah Jazz team on Monday night.  This is the final game of their tough 5 game road trip.  The Jazz haven’t been playing too well as of late, but they need a win to keep pace with the Lakers for the 8th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.  You can watch the Knicks take on the Jazz Monday night at 10:30 P.M. on ESPN.

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 athttp://www.Facebook.com/DaveTalksSports. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it!