It was a long drive to Miami Thursday night as I watched the New York Knicks continue their losing ways, leaving themselves at the bottom of Eastern Conference standings with a 108-82 loss to the Miami.
I felt like it was Groundhog Day as the Knicks and Coach Mike Woodson continue to do what they have done all season. It is getting to the point where I wonder if Dolan and the Knick organization has quit on the players, as they refuse to make any changes to the team, its staff, or the team’s style of play.
The Knicks are a team in turmoil with a management that is paralyzed. The Knicks are now 21-38 following another pitiful loss to the Golden State Warriors and have lost 10 of their last 12 games. They’re a season-worst 17 games under .500 and 6 games out of the East’s last playoff spot with 24 to go. According to ESPN.com’s playoff odds, New York had just a 20.4 percent chance of making the playoffs before they were blown out by Miami. After watching the game or Friday’s loss, I would not take this bet.
It seemed like only yesterday, I begged Santa Claus for a point guard for Christmas. We once had Jeremy Lin. At Christmas time we could have had Kyrie Lowry, we most recently could have had Darren Colison. However, instead of providing me with the point guard I so desperately wanted, Chairman James Dolan kept to his word when he told New York players in a meeting on December 27 that there are no trades or changes to the coaching staff forthcoming. Well, he was right. The Knicks have continued to lose while not changing a thing.
This is a franchise in chaos, afraid of making any changes. It began with the passing on Jeremy Lin, when he brought excitement and enthusiasm back to the Garden. As I sat there last night and watched the Knicks quit on the court, it was sad and made for a long drive home.
This is a flawed team. They have an owner who wants to do the right thing, but just doesn’t know how. They have a coach who tries to do the right thing, but lately is consistently wrong. They have a general manager, who has never been a general manager before and a host of players that simply don’t know how to win.
Last night, Carmelo Anthony did everything he could to keep the Knicks in the game, but he needed help and got little from his teammates.However, their play and offense does not dictate that.
NBA Coaches know: STOP ANTHONY, STOP THE KNICKS.
It goes like this: Felton walks the ball up the court, fakes right, and passes to Anthony. Teams, after watching Anthony burn them in the first half, decide to double team Anthony every time he gets the ball. So there’s Anthony being double-teamed and the rest of the Knicks standing around. This is a team that gets no respect from other players or referees. During the 23-3 run Thursday in Miami, on four consecutive sequences the refs called an offensive foul on Tyson Chandler, then offensive goaltending on a made Chandler basket, then another offensive foul, this time on Anthony as he scored, then a walking violation on J.R. Smith. While the Heat and LeBron James continued to drive unobstructed down the middle.
The facts are simple; everyone in the NBA knows what the Knicks are going to do on each play, night in and night out. On defense they are going to switch every screen, double-team every big man down low and isolate Carmelo Anthony whenever possible. Once the teams have made their halftime adjustments, the Knicks are done.
Game after game it is obvious that these Woodson-coached Knicks are not going to run offensive sets out of any timeout, and they weren’t prepared defensively when teams like the Heat are. The Knicks defense is going to leave the opponent’s best three-point shooter wide-open in the corner every time as they double team every big down low. They are not going to go for a two-for-one at the end of quarters, and they will generally play the last few possessions of the game as if the shot clock doesn’t exist. Always to Anthony till he is double teamed and forces up a shot.
Change, Mr. Dolan, is what the Knicks needed, what they need now. Felton again was horrific and outplayed. Why not go for Jimmer Fredette? Maybe we could get Jimsanity. Anything to shake the pot. The Knick starting backcourt of Felton and Pablo Prigioni collectively scored a total of 2 points at the half. Are you kidding me? This is the NBA. Don’t expect me to get excited about Earl Clark or Shannon Brown and don’t tell me about defense, as Brown was beaten time after time by Dwyane Wade.
Woodson needs to change or be changed. The Knicks need to start pushing the ball up the court which would lead to more easy baskets. The Knicks can’t play small ball, terrible defense and walk the ball down the court and give it to Anthony every time. This is not hard to defend. There is no movement and young players like Tim Hardaway Jr. and Iman Shumpert would excel in an open field. The Knicks have the personnel to run. When they did last night, they looked good and that is what brought them back in the game in the first half. The Knicks have talent; they just don’t utilize it to their potential. Shumpert will be back soon, he is a great athlete, just not being utilized to his strengths. Anthony knows how to finish on the break, Jeremy Tyler can beat most big men up the court and rookie Tim Hardaway Jr. has proved to be an excellent player on the break.
Smith summed it up last night. “Last year we played with a chip on our shoulder, we played with more aggressiveness,” Smith said. “We’re not playing like that.”
J.R. averaged 18.1 points per game on 42.2 percent shooting last season. This year he is managing a measly 12.9 points per contest and connecting on just 38.7 percent of his shots.
Woodson needs to make changes on the offense with more creative play-calling. He can run pick-and-rolls from different areas on the floor and use them to get Anthony more open looks. According to Synergy, Carmelo ranks 19th in the league (1.17 points per possession) as the roll man in pick-and-rolls but have only run the play 35 times.
Woodson also needs to adjust his strategy and play-calling late in games… In the final minutes of close games, the Knicks just give the ball to Anthony and clear out. They do not use any misdirection or off-ball action. There is no ball movement to loosen up the defense or even a second option in the event that Anthony does not have a shot.
So there you have it James Dolan, something must change, and you must change. Your GM must come out of hiding and do something. (I actually miss Glen Grunwald) You must fire Woodson or fire him up. But something must change for last night I saw quit in this team, not a good sign with the Golden State Warriors in tonight.
Dr. Kaplan is a Bestselling author at www.5minutemotivator.com
Follow him on Twitter @drekaplan