Despite clinching a playoff spot on Sunday evening, Mike D’Antoni said he doesn’t feel the need to limit the minutes of his key guys as the regular season dwindles down. This also despite Amar’e and a few others complaining about weariness and fatigue throughout the month of March.
Courtesy of NorthJersey.com’s Steve Adamek:
Even with the Knicks clinching a playoff berth with six games to play, coach Mike D’Antoni plans to keep playing his regulars decent, if not quite their regular minutes.
His reasoning: “We would like to keep playing better and you can’t play better by not playing together.
“We’re going to try to win the rest of the games and move up.”
This all makes sense. The team as currently constituted has been together just over 40 days, and chemistry is still above and beyond one of its primary weaknesses. Having them play together through the last five or so games as if they haven’t clinched a playoff berth will help get all the players with little to no postseason experience into the correct mindset as it quickly approaches.
But, still, I don’t like it. The Knicks are currently 1.5 behind Philadelphia, with a game against them on Wednesday night. These two teams are basically fighting to decide who will be sent off to battle Miami and who to battle Boston. Nothing is set in stone with those two higher seeds still jockeying for the second and third seed, but if there’s one team who can ill afford to play their starters heavy minutes down the stretch it’s Boston. The Celtics’ ideology since acquiring the Big 3 has been to rest their aging starters then turn the switch come playoff time; seeding and placement is not a priority, and because of this they’re likely to fall into the three hole. If you’re the Knicks, there’s absolutely no way you want to jump into that sixth seed and face a hungry, experienced, heavily motivated Boston Celtics in the first round. Instead, we’ve been preaching all year that a first round showdown with Miami would be much more favorable. Despite what the records say, these two teams match up very well on the court: They both shoot a lot of jumpers, like to attack in transition, rely on two or three players to handle their scoring load, and have little to no inside presence. Also, both of them will be entering the 2011 playoffs for the first time as a team. It’ll be a clean slate for both organizations and records won’t matter. (New York is 2-2 against Miami and 0-3 against Boston this season.) So if the Knicks can help it, my suggestion is to at least confine Chauncey and Amar’e’s minutes to around 25 a game and see what happens. The cement has yet to dry, but staying in the seventh slot will likely increase New York’s chances of advancing past the first round.