The New York Knicks lost to the Boston Celtics by 41 points yesterday. Most of them didn’t seem to care, really. The Knicks’ postgame responses were surprisingly upbeat, despite coming off of their most embarrassing effort of the season. Besides for Carmelo Anthony, most of the team didn’t really seem all that fazed, as if winning two games against sub-.500 teams suddenly reversed the fact that they’ve lost 14 of their 19 games this season. Nope, nothing is broken in Knicks Land!
In some ways this is OK — the spirit of the team is relatively high, there isn’t overly serious in-house fighting, they still believe they can get it together. But nearly 20 games into the season — nearly 1/4 of the season — something is wrong with a team that hasn’t had an actual impressive win since early November. The head coach is the most obvious answer.
Mike Woodson isn’t wholly to blame for the Knicks’ woes, he really isn’t, but he’s certainly had a hand in the losses. Yet to the team, Woodson isn’t to blame at all. In fact, the Knicks were quite supportive of Woodson today:
“No, it’s definitely on us,” J.R. Smith said. “One thing you love about coach is he’ll always take the blame for us, take the heat. But if people weren’t ready to play that’s just on us.”
“He can’t teach effort. I know coach, I know what type of guy he is, so he’s always going to put it on him. But you can’t teach effort,” Anthony said. “We’re the guys that are going out there as a team and not giving him the effort and not giving ourself the effort, not giving ourself a chance to win the basketball game.
“We want him here. We love him as a coach, and he’s a great guy, so we definitely don’t want to have to deal with a new person coming in, not knowing what to expect,” Felton said on Wednesday….
These are good things in a sense; if the Knicks were publicly lambasting Woodson, it would be a sure sign of trouble. The team is still kind of a collective unit, and if they’re all still supportive of him means they’re willing to turn it around, right?
Well…. Woodson is the problem in that he’s not getting the most out of this team. He can’t make players make shots or run back in transition or close out hard or any of that stuff. But he’s been off nearly the whole year in finding the right rotations, even when they seem obvious to anyone watching, and the lessons he’s apparently teaching aren’t sticking. How often have the Knicks come out of a timeout with any adjustments? Where was Woodson’s game plan to adjust to Boston’s red hot offense on Sunday? It rarely happens.
The team support for Woodson actually complicates things. Many people believe that firing Woodson would be a solution to some of this team’s problems, and it’s mostly true — a different coach could probably get more out of this group. But losing Woodson could also splinter this team. They’ve publicly come to his defense a number of times this season, so firing him could just upset the players.
It’s a complicated situation, and one that won’t go away unless the Knicks start, you know, winning again.
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