It’s fitting, maybe, that the last time the Bucks came to Madison Square Garden was the last time the Knicks had a fresh start. They had just acquired Carmelo, nobody knew quite what to expect, and the team delivered a flawed but passionate performance to get the Melo era off on the right foot. It seemed like a taste of many nights to come where a great team doesn’t have its best game but dispatches a lesser side and protects home court, the way elite teams always do.
Today the Knicks again face the Bucks at home, and again we’re reaching for the reset button. But that’s the thing – this time, it’s we who need the fresh start, not the team. The team looks tired, confused, unsure of each player’s role, but in a few weeks they’ll be in the same spot they would’ve been in without Carmelo: on the road, against a better team, with two chances to win a game that brings a playoff series back to MSG tied 1-1. We, on the other hand – bloggers and readers alike, who need little nuggets and insights into our team’s future every day – can’t seem to reconcile the abhorrent on-court product with what figures to be the same end-result.
Oh, and it drives us crazy. I mean, I’m the guy who just wrote 1,300 words as Carmelo Anthony; nobody’s having more trouble coming to grips with this than I am. We all want to think each game points us in a new direction or reveals something new about the team, and it’s frustrating to realize that no matter what happens, we’re probably headed to the same conclusion. They’re going to have a puncher’s chance, same as before. They aren’t going to get blown out in both road games – one is going to be close. And in a close game, it may come down to just one shot.
I don’t know what Mike D’Antoni can do right now to make sure that one shot goes in. I do know that we can’t do anything, though, so let’s hit our own reset button. With 11 games to go, it seems as good a time as any.
Your starters, you may remember, are Brandon Jennings, John The Slammin’ Salmons, Carlos Delfino El Asesino, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, and Andrew Bogut.
Knicks Rotation: I have no info on who tonight’s starting center/power forward/rover will be, but I am casting my vote for Ronny Turiaf. For tonight and forever more.
Can Somebody Put a Bell on: Carlos Delfino? His numbers over the last three games, including one against the Knicks: 29-46 FG, 19-31 3PT, 86 points, 21 rebounds, 7 steals, 4 turnovers. I’d say this is a job for Carmelo Anthony but a) I’ve said enough about his defense, and b) isn’t it really a job for whoever switches onto Delfino?
A Few Good Sentences about: Amar’e Stoudemire. I wake up Thursday morning to see Chauncey Billups’ pass intercepted with both hands by Quentin Richardson, who took it all the way for a dunk. Somehow, the SportsCenter people decide to highlight Amar’e amidst all this, pointing out his jogging behind Richardson. First of all, what was he supposed to do, go from flat-footed to catching a smaller guy who had all the momentum? Secondly, and more generally, let’s give this guy a break. Yes, he chooses strange times to act like he has five fouls on defense. And yes, there was a period where his go-to move was to put his head down and dribble directly at his defender. But Amar’e has been money on the curl all year, his mid-range jumper has actually improved as the year has gone on, and of our two superstars, he’s the one you’d have to say regrets in no way what he’s gotten himself into. The jury is still out on the other.
And as far as that Billups pass goes, well, I don’t think I’m ready to talk about Chauncey yet. Not without cursing, anyway.
Seeing Redd?: An article from Wednesday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel suggests Michael Redd could make his return tonight following a 14-month absence with a torn ACL and MCL. He practiced 5-on-5 earlier this week and is reportedly an excellent condition for a man coming off approximately 421 knee surgeries. Whether to play him is a difficult decision for Scott Skiles: on the one hand, the Bucks are making a playoff push and may not have time to incorporate a new face in the rotation; on the other, they’re one of the worst offensive teams in the league and could desperately use a bona fide deep threat. My advice for tonight, Scott: you don’t need strong legs to shoot over a defender who isn’t there!
Milwaukee is coming off a bad loss at home to Sacramento in which Delfino played 47 minutes. I don’t have anything to say about this team that we all didn’t see last week: they hustle, they defend, and they’re fighting to get back to the playoffs. They’re coming off an extended homestand and this isn’t a back-to-back for them, so I’d expect no shortage of energy from a Bucks team with its back to the wall. Once again, it’ll be up to the Knicks to match their hustle and motivation. Let’s see if they have it in them.
Enjoy the game if possible, and I’ll have a nice little recap to tuck you in.