The New York Knicks are sitting in a pretty good spot right now with a 36-21 record and a 3.5 game lead over the Brooklyn Nets in the Atlantic Division, but Knicks fans have seen better performances from head coach Mike Woodson as of late.
That begs the question of if Woodson is starting to succumb to the pressure of winning in New York a little bit.
Woodson was a big part of turning the Knicks season around a year ago, but if he is going to get the credit for that, he has to be given a fair share of criticism as well for the fact that the Knicks have gone only 16-16, since beginning the season 18-5.
Woody admitted to making some crucial mistakes lately, which includes not playing Amar’e Stoudemire in the fourth quarter against the Miami Heat and playing Carmelo Anthony Monday in Cleveland when he asked out of the game because of knee problems.
But there have been other signs that Woodson may be getting tight under pressure, including watching the Knicks continue to get off to slow starts before he made a change to a starting lineup that statistically doesn’t play well together. Then there are the unsettled rotations that Woodson uses. Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert have been back for a while now and often it appears that Woodson doesn’t know how and when to use them. Finally there are things like allowing J.R. Smith to continue to freelance and shoot the Knicks out of runs and even games.
Woodson has preached accountability and will act accordingly when some other guys do things that prove costly to team success, but when it comes to Smith, he continues to look the other way.
But all that is expected.
People tend to forget that Woodson hasn’t had a full team to coach all season.
Injuries have not only affected the success that the Knicks have on the court, but the way Woodson attempts to coach the team.
“I’m still learning, as a coach, this group of guys because we are so new and haven’t been around each other very long,” Woodson said on “The Stephen A. Smith & Ryan Ruocco Show (via ESPN’s Ian Begley).” “There’s six, seven new faces on this team. Everybody thinks it’s supposed to click right now. And I’m a realist. If you look at Miami’s situation, it took them a few years to get where they are. We’re trying to jam everything into three, four months … coming out of (training) camp and it’s not easy. I’m still trying to juggle and try to figure out rotations and things of that nature.”
Personally I still think Woodson is a good fit for this team, but there are some issues.
He is still a coach who has never won a playoff series and the things he was preaching last season and early this season clearly aren’t getting through to this team anymore.
Very few players give effort defensively and the Knicks don’t play good team defense like they used to. The Knicks were at their best offensively when the ball moved. That’s not the case anymore as often the ball stops with Smith or Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks have to settle for whatever shot the two can create, often a forced bad shot.
The good news is that Woodson still has time to get his message through to this team and get his rotations figured out before the playoffs.
The bad news is that if he doesn’t, Woodson may have to wait a while longer to finally win a playoff series.
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