by Slate Schwertner
When Coach Mike D’Antoni left the Knicks before the end of the season, Knicks fans everywhere wondered if they could win with Woodson.
Quickly, he proved to be a better coach than D’Antoni, both offensively and defensively. He immediate put a major focus on defense, and as a result Tyson Chandler became the defensive player the Knicks wanted him to be.
Chandler was never brought in to be a shooting star, but the Knicks own version of Dwight Howard. We wanted blocks and rebounds, and wanted them all the time. With Woodson, we got that. Chandler turned into a beast and was blocking and rebounding like a mad man. So what happened Saturday night?
In the face of pressure, Chandler managed three rebounds and no blocks. He didn’t look like the player he was in the latter half of the season. He looked confused in the paint, and seemed to be nervous about going up against the big players. On offense, he was unable to get the most important offensive rebounds, and that makes it hard to win if you only get one chance at a time. The fact that he had seven turnovers doesn’t help his case either.
Carmelo Anthony was unable to get anything rolling for the entire game. He played like a rookie and made way too many costly mistakes. He was taking shots while in double coverage, and couldn’t pass the ball well.
Melo went from averaging over 30 points for the last games of the season, to playing like he had never touched the ball. He ended up 3-of-15 with a dismal 11 points. In order to win, he has to step up and out-shoot LeBron James.
So, how does this effect Woodson?
Woodson needs to go back to the philosophy of old. He needs to focus on defense, because the Heat are such an offensive powerhouse it is unlikely the Knicks will outscore them.
If he can get the centers to play stand down defense, the Knicks can win the serious battles. He needs to go back to play-calling the way he was. Far too many times in the game, the Knicks looked out of sync, and I never saw many plays called all game.
With Iman Shumpert out with a torn ACL, Woodson must figure out who to start in his place. If I was in his shoes, I would pick Steve Novak. Yes, he plays the same position as Melo, but the man is a machine from beyond the arc.
Novak is shooting 47 percent from the floor, and 48% percent beyond the arc. He’s playing much better than J.R. Smith, and doesn’t take many stupid shots. If Woodson put some faith in him, we would see improvement in the starting five.
Ultimately, Woodson needs to make some improvements if the Knicks wish to upset the Heat in this series. Hopefully the team can rally around their coach, and put this series behind them and move on to the next round.