Okay We Are Going To Start Trying….Ummm…..Starting Now!

Can the Indiana Pacers play any better, and can the New York Knicks possibly play any worse? I don’t think so. I’m not trying to make any excuses for the Knicks. Trust me, I watched that entire game and let me be the first person to say that the Knicks made me throw up in my mouth; twice. Now, I’m also not trying to take anything away from the Pacers victory, but everyone needs to hop off that panic button once again. Let me shed some light on what the Knicks have done and what they need to do to make it past the Pacers.

If J.R. Smith can remember that he is allowed to take the ball to the basket, they might fare better in the rest of the series. And Mr. Anthony is not getting let off the hook so easily either. Since the end of game 3 against the Boston Celtics, he has been downright awful! We all know the statistics, so I’m not going to bore you with those. He, and the rest of the Knicks, are a jack up shots and hope they go in team right now. Despite what everyone thinks, their best recipe for success is not to live and die by the 3. Yes, they succeed when they hit OPEN 3-pointers at a high percentage, but they really work best off of dribble penetration by Raymond Felton or Carmelo Anthony. This either leads to a bucket or trip to the foul line for Anthony, or an open shot for Felton or Iman Shumpert. Their other best offensive option is the high pick and roll involving any combination of Felton/Pablo Prigioni and Kenyon Martin/Tyson Chandler. This has led to the best offensive possessions the Knicks have seen all year. For some reason Mike Woodson doesn’t stick with what works. No matter how good the Knicks look at times they always revert back to their old habits (Iso-Melo). What Woodson needs to preach is sound defense first and smart offense second. They also need to recognize that the pace of play from game 1 completely favors the Pacers. The Pacers want to slow the ball down and work the ball through the low post (because they have a clear size advantage). The Knicks should look to push the pace at all times and take Roy Hibbert and their other big men out of play. And for the love of god, Coach, please leave Jason Kidd at the hotel napping next time you head over to the arena. He is god awful. Even when he’s wide open he doesn’t shoot the ball, so what’s the point of having him out there anyway? I’ve been screaming this from the hill tops all season, but Woodson has this secret love affair with Kidd that no one else is talking about. And at the same time, he has this odd hatred for Iman Shumpert that I can’t seem to figure out. Shumpert, especially against a defensive minded team is one of your most valuable weapons. They need Shumpert’s young legs and energy on both ends of the floor. And think about any of the Knicks fast breaks that aren’t being led by Raymond Felton. They’re being led by Shumpert aren’t they? Chew on that thought for a minute while I delve into what occurred on the Knicks home court Sunday afternoon.

As I stated before, the Pacers played a very solid game on Sunday, especially their role players. Now if Lance Stephenson is going to have a double double every night and D.J. Augustin is going to hit 45 three pointers than the Knicks have no chance in this series. However, if you want me to realistically believe that that’s going to happen, that also is not going to happen. I just can’t see the Knicks rolling over and dying in this series. Maybe I’m telling you what I want to see more than what I think, but for everyone’s sake they better show a better effort than they did in game 1. I think we will all see what this team is made of in game 2. At this point in the season, they need to lay it all on the line and leave every ounce of energy on that floor Tuesday night. I think they’ll stand up to the challenge and win what is without a doubt their biggest game of the year. It’s playoffs time baby! It’s do or die! 99-88 Knicks. Book it.

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 Defense Stifles Celtics

The atmosphere inside the World’s Most Famous Arena Tuesday night was electrifying. The crowd was in the game from start to finish, and the Knicks were able to match the fans intensity. That intensity really showed itself on the defensive end. Let me just say that if the Knicks play defense the way they did in the 2nd half, they will give Miami a run for their money. This game was a tale of two halves. In the first half, the Celtics played efficiently on the offensive end and they applied solid pressure on the defensive end. The first quarter was back and forth until J.R. Smith took over. His pure athleticism coupled with his acrobatic shots put the Knicks on top heading to the 2nd quarter. Smith was able to score 5 points inside the final 7 seconds of the 1st quarter to leave the Knicks ahead by 6. His final shot at the buzzer was a step back 3-pointer from about 40 feet. The Garden erupted, and it looked like the Knicks were going to cruise to an easy victory. The Celtics, however, had other plans. The Celtics turned up their defense and started pushing the ball up the floor off of turnovers. With the pace of play being turned up a notch, this created open shots for Jason Terry. Terry finally found his range as he hit three consecutive three pointers and helped the Celtics grab a six point advantage heading into halftime. The 2nd half did not exactly go as well as the 1st for the Celtics. The 3rd quarter of Tuesday night’s game was an exact blueprint of what the Knicks need to do to win. The Knicks energy and defensive intensity was phenomenal. They forced numerous turnovers and their defensive pressure stifled the old men in green. Paul Pierce has always looked like he’s running in quicksand, but I think it’s safe to say he’s nearing the bottom of the hill. Kevin Garnett on the other hand never got anything going due to early foul trouble. This time it seemed that he was the one frustrated by his opposition (and Carmelo didn’t even have to say anything about his wife, hmm go figure). The Knicks defense was intense, it was swarming, it was physical, and best of all it sent a message to the rest of the league. The Knicks in 2 straight games have held the Celtics to 24 and 23 2nd half points; respectively. Thats insane! Now all they need to do is commit themselves completely to that hard nose style of play, and they’ll be all set. And let me branch off here for a second to spend a little time to give credit where credit is due. Kenyon Martin is the man! I love Kenyon Martin’s game (and if you don’t you need to have your head examined). My favorite part of any game is when a player drives down the middle of the lane thinking he has a free path to the basket for a dunk. Little does he know that Kenyon Martin is not just waiting, he’s salivating for such an opportunity. What comes next is the best part. Kenyon either takes the player down in a way that the player says to himself, “I better not try that again”, or he comes away with a monster block. Either way Kenyon Martin is sending this message: (which I approve) Don’t you bring that weak stuff up in here boy! (And then he screams at the crowd which is awesome!). And that right there is what you should love about Kenyon Martin and the dynamic he brings to this roster. Plus, his wry smile at the ref every time he commits a ‘foul’ is pretty amusing too. Anyway, let’s get back to the matter at hand. We know what Melo brings to the table, and we think we know what J.R. Smith brings as well. But what we don’t know is how consistently Raymond Felton can play with the aggressive nature we saw Tuesday night. Felton was by far the player of the game last night. I know I know, Melo had all those points, but without Felton’s contributions that game would have ended differently. So, if Chandler, Shumpert, and Martin bring the defense while Melo and Melo Jr. bring the offense, all we need is little Raymond Felton to penetrate the defense and either dish or attack the basket. With Felton as a viable 3rd offensive weapon the Knicks stand a serious chance in the Eastern Conference. All the Knicks need to do now is not have a let down like we’ve all grown accustom to. They can’t get comfortable with a 2 game lead (especially with those 2 wins coming at home). They need to stay focused as
they enter the hostile environment that will be the TD Garden in Boston. Even with the declining play from Boston’s stars, Boston is going to be the toughest place to play for the foreseeable future, trust me. The Knicks need to keep their defensive intensity up and win game 3. Then they’ll be in the drivers seat. You can catch game 3 of the New York Knicks vs. the Boston Celtics on Friday night @ 8:00 p.m. Tune into ESPN to catch all the action. Enjoy the rest of the series 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 at http://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!

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!

NBA Trade Deadline in Review

The NBA trade deadline came and went without much noise.  All week Josh Smith’s name had been circulating in trade talks, and it all amounted to nothing.  Personally, I don’t understand why they didn’t deal him, as well as why the Lakers didn’t deal Dwight Howard.  Why would teams not trade players who are going to walk away in free agency at the end of the year?  Josh Smith is definitely leaving Atlanta, so the fact that they didn’t trade him is idiotic.  Dwight Howard may stay in Los Angeles, so I understand the Lakers keeping him in hopes to re-sign him at the end of the year.  The biggest name that was traded yesterday was JJ Reddick.  The Orlando Magic traded him to the Milwaukee Bucks, along with Gustavo Ayon and Ish Smith for Beno Udrih, Doron Lamb, and Tobias Harris.  It was not a big trade by any stretch of the imagination.  However, the name of the game in the NBA is money money money.  Trades get made in the NBA once the money matches on both sides.  The Magic are in rebuilding mode (as they always are), and they were looking for some young talent which they received in Doron Lamb.  I think the Bucks got the better of this trade, with the addition of a solid perimeter shooter.  The New York Knicks did not make a big splash in the trade deadline either.  They traded Ronnie Brewer to the Oklahoma City Thunder for a 2nd round pick and a trade exception.  And we all know what the Knicks did next right?  Come on, it made so much sense.  You can’t think of it?  Okay, I’ll tell you.  They signed Kenyon Martin to a 10-Day Contract.  Yes!!!!  That is just what they need, another mid thirties player who if his life depended on it couldn’t stay healthy.  Now, if, and this is a BIG IF, he can stay healthy he will help out their front line.  He can add some much needed rebounding, defense, and toughness.  That gritty warrior’s mentality is what the Knicks are lacking, big time.  Overall, I’ll give the Knicks an average grade of a C for their trade deadline moves.  Even with the inactivity at the trade deadline, we should have some good competitive basketball to watch over the last two months of the season.  Enjoy!!