Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The New York Knicks are in serious
Keen observation, Commander Obvious, seeing as they are down 3-1 to the
Indiana Pacers in a best-of-seven series, but the Knicks are in immediate
peril, including Thursday's Game 5 in Madison Square Garden.
The Knicks have done almost nothing right in their series with the Indiana
Pacers. Save for a brilliant 30-2 run in Game 2, the Knicks would be at
Shinnecock right now playing better-ball.
The first problem is offensively. The Knicks averaged 100 points per game on
the button during the regular season, but are down to 87.9 ppg during their 10
Clearly there is some type of issue here, but it's a simple one - the Knicks'
shots aren't falling. New York was a jump-shooting team all season and managed
to shoot 44.8 percent from the floor. The Knicks led the league in 3-pointers
made and were tied for fourth in long-range percentage.
In the playoffs, the Knicks are shooting at a 41 percent clip and converting
only 7.6 3-pointers per game. Sometimes the ball doesn't go in and it's not
for the Knicks.
Carmelo Anthony is scoring at a high level in the postseason. He's also taking
some lip from Tyson Chandler and pundits about not spreading the basketball
That is complete rubbish.
J.R. Smith's scoring is down from 18.1 ppg during the regular season to 14.3
ppg in the postseason. Chandler's down four full points a night. Jason Kidd
hasn't scored this month. That's not my usual sass, Kidd has not scored a
point since Game 2 of the Knicks' first-round series with the Boston Celtics.
Where exactly should Anthony look to for help? Chandler can't score, Kidd
can't score, Iman Shumpert is not a real offensive threat, Amare Stoudemire
can't stay on the floor long enough, Pablo Prigioni is getting yanked out of
the lineup and Steve Novak disappeared quicker than a mob informant. Someone
ought to dredge the Hudson to see where Novak's at with his concrete boots.
It's worth noting the Knicks won 54 games, an Atlantic Division title and the
second seed in the East employing the same offensive strategy.
Smith is killing them more than anyone. At almost four points less and nine
points lower field-goal percentage-wise, Smith is just not producing at the
"I take the blame for this whole series," admitted Smith.
(In an era when athletes deflect and go on the defensive, honesty, something
as basic as that floors me.)
He's been awful, but he's certainly the only one.
Defense has even been a bit of a problem for the Knicks. Their numbers are
great with opponents' scoring at 85.0 ppg, but the Celtics were the Three
Stooges of offense.
Game 3 against the Pacers proved to be a huge problem for the Knicks. Chandler
got manhandled by Indiana's Roy Hibbert. That forced the Knicks to double-team
every Pacers player on the low post in Game 4. Indiana was disciplined enough
to move the ball and even knocked down eight 3-pointers.
Chandler finished on the All-Defensive first team and was last season's
defensive player of the year. His inability to defend Hibbert forced a change
that directly caused a huge problem in Game 4.
So where does coach Mike Woodson go from here?
Well, he panicked in Game 4 and started a bigger lineup with Kenyon Martin in
and Prigioni out. That worked wonders. Martin scored zero points in just under
29 minutes, Prigioni played under four minutes to no critical acclaim.
You can understand why he did it. Priggy is not a guy who will fill a stat
sheet and the Pacers' girth has hurt the Knicks. Martin didn't help that at
all. Indiana still outrebounded New York, 54-36.
The first thing Woodson can do is go back to his starting lineup with Prigioni
out there and he all but said he would.
"That lineup has been good and there's a strong chance we could go back to
that lineup," Woodson said after practice on Wednesday.
Next up, are the tougher decisions.
Kidd is a Hall of Famer one day. At this point, he is an offensive liability.
The Knicks are playing 5-on-4 when they have the ball and he's out there. Kidd
is not only not scoring, but he's not taking open shots in the flow of the
offense. Before you get on your soapbox about everything else Kidd does, know
he's averaging 2.4 assists and 1.1 steals in 23.5 minutes per game.
Also, Smith will need to be handled differently. If he doesn't have it early,
Woodson needs to pull him earlier. Give Chris Copeland or Novak a chance to
score. Smith doesn't do anything well enough outside of scoring to warrant
being out there.
The problem is, Woodson doesn't have five guys he can unconditionally rely on
at the moment. Anthony, Felton and Chandler will be out there (all three
should play close to 48 minutes). Shumpert is probably the fourth, but if
Smith isn't on, who do you go to?
Also, the Pacers' frontline is killing the Knicks on the glass. Indiana is
getting 13 offensive rebounds a game. The Pacers get 10.5 rebounds more than
the Knicks in this series.
Martin has to play better. They need him because an elimination game is not
where Marcus Camby should crack the rotation.
Stoudemire could play more, but can his knee handle that? Doubtful, but in 10
minutes per game, Stoudemire is averaging 5.5 ppg and 3.5 rpg. He might have
played longer in Game 4, but came out way too amped up and started fouling
Woodson is in trouble, but it's not because of Anthony, or even Smith that
much. He's in trouble because the Knicks are a jump-shooting team. When they
don't go in, it looks ugly like it has through four games.
His rotation is shot due to ineffective play. His team can't rebound with the
Yeah, Commander Obvious reporting - the Knicks are in serious trouble.
- You do have to feel badly for the Seattle area. They deserve a basketball
team, but the NBA just loves the Sacramento area. Or, the NBA really loves
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, the former All-Star point guard for the
Phoenix Suns. The NBA just wants to rid us of the Maloof brothers and probably
not give them any satisfaction on the way out. A deal will be made with this
Sacramento-based consortium and the team with the worst home attendance in the
NBA stays put. The Kings have been mismanaged since Chris Webber and Mike
Bibby left town. The Maloofs have mailed it in, so showing them the door is
fine. But Sacramento has not showed up for the team. A new building will do
almost nothing. New basketball people could do a lot.
- I refuse to believe a team will pay Nate Robinson a lot of money based on
his playoff run with the Chicago Bulls. I have faith in basketball minds that
they will realize on an offensively challenged group like the Bulls, his style
of chucking worked. They needed any warm-blooded male human to score points
for them. Truth be told, I don't think he's back with Chicago next season,
unless, of course, Derrick Rose plans to sit that out, too.
- The Bulls do earn credit in my book with how hard they competed down so many
key people. But for those who talk about moral victories, the Heat won their
four games by an average of 18.3 points.
- After Tuesday's NBA Draft Lottery, the focus will shift some to the draft
- I'll never understand how analytics work in basketball. I didn't when it
started in baseball, and I won't for a while in the NBA. The Philadelphia
76ers' hiring of Sam Hinkie reflects a philosophical change for an
organization desperately in need of one. Doug Collins served his purpose for
two years, but can you say the team is in good shape when he left? There are
only a handful of teams in worse shape right now than the Sixers.
- Movie moment - As I tweeted earlier this week, I love that Bane wears a
winter coat in "The Dark Knight Rises." This is a man who lived in a sewer and
a pit prison covered in cloth, but he respects cold.
- TV moment - I can not express how excited I am for the return, no matter how
many episodes, of "24." While it's preposterous and played out at times (like
what screening process does CTU use, because there are moles every year), this
show was still, even at its looniest, better than almost everything on
The Sports Network