York Knicks 104 Charlotte
The Knicks won their final game of the regular season, defeating a lifeless Bobcats team 104-84 ending the season on a three game winning streak. The Bobcats ended the season on their own streak, losing the last 23 games in a row, finishing with the worst winning percentage for a season in NBA history. While the Knicks won tonight, the 76ers lost meaning the Knicks lock up the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference and a meeting with the Miami Heat in the first round. The 76ers will get the Bulls.
Much like how Carmelo Anthony dominated without Amar’e Stoudemire on the floor was how it was for Stoudemire tonight with Anthony sitting out resting up for the playoffs. Stoudemire finished with 21 points, scoring in an array of ways. Stoudemire tonight was effective with his midrange jumper, rolling off screens and on drives to the basket. It looked like the Stoudemire of old, especially in the 3rd quarter when he finished a monstrous dunk over Tyrus Thomas for an and-one.
The Knicks should start Stoudemire against the Heat when the playoffs started, but should not hesitate to get him burn with the second unit. If the Knicks can split up Stoudemire and Anthony for parts of the game and let each dominate for a stretch of time, it will help them in the long run. If both are having a good game, it will be difficult to decide which one to send help at.
Tonight’s game was against statistically the worst team in the history of the NBA, but there were still encouraging signs to take out of it for the Knicks.
-J.R. Smith Steps Up
J.R. Smith has turned a corner since Mike Woodson took over as head coach, and he has to be a big reason for that. The relationship between Smith and Woodson seems very similar to a father-son relationship. Woodson comes down harder on Smith compared to some of the other players because he realizes Smith is a big piece to this team being competitive and they need him.
Woodson is able to communicate to Smith without turning him off and making him upset. Smith has all the talent in the world, but can sometimes get lost in his own games causing problems for the team. We have seen less of that since Woodson took over and I think it is because Woodson has gotten through to Smith that team basketball and continuity will be what leads them to where they want to be, not one-on-one show off basketball.
The pushing Woodson gives to Smith only motivates him more to show the coach he is capable of doing what is asked of him. For example, Smith now brings it consistently on the defensive end. Tonight that pushing paid off as Smith led the Knicks with 22 points in a game which he gave a strong performance when it looked like not many people were interested in taking part.
Next up for the Knicks is the playoff series against the Miami Heat. This is the beginning of the re-start to the rivalry from the 90’s when the Knicks and Heat would battle it out it seemed every year in the post season. Saturday afternoon at in
is when Game 1 of the series will take place.