Wednesday, March 14, 2012

New York Knicks vs. Portland Trail Blazers Pre-Game News and Notes March 14th

Wednesday March 14 7:30 P.M. ET 
Portland Trail Blazers vs. New York Knicks 

The Knicks look to end a 6 game losing streak against a team which is having its own struggles in the Portland Trail Blazers, losers of 6 out of their last 8 games. The Knicks have to focus on stopping Blazer Power Forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who leads them in scoring at 21.7 points per game. One positive in stopping Aldridge is the return of Jared Jeffries to action tonight (never thought I would be glad he is coming back). The Knicks will need to bring energy for the full 48 minutes as well, as the Blazers are not a team to back down. Cleaning up the glass should also be a priority, after the lack of presence on the boards is what led to the Knicks demise against the Bulls on Monday night. 

-Changing of the Guard 
The Knicks management and Coach Mike D’Antoni agreed to part ways earlier in the day, with assistant coach Mike Woodson given the reigns to the team for the remainder of the season. This is a move well overdue, as D’Antoni was a lame duck coach (in his last year of contract with no extension) and had lost the attention of a number of players. Players were questioning playing time, and at times did not know the schemes on offense or defense, leading to confusion and lack of cohesion on the court. 

D’Antoni was stubborn and stuck in his ways of coaching, which led to the budding of heads between him and many players, namely Carmelo Anthony. The two of them have been unable to get on the same page, leading to lackluster play for the Knicks as a whole. The schemes D’Antoni was putting in place were calling for players to do things they were not used to and not playing into their strengths. Sure they are NBA players and should be able to adapt, but it is hard to tell someone like Carmelo Anthony who was a perennial All-Star and leading scorer in the NBA to change his style. D’Antoni’s current offense was calling for Melo to play more at the 3 point line, instead of between the elbow and block where he is used to operating. This caused problems because Melo would gravitate towards where he was used to playing and would stall the offense. This also explains why Melo, along with Amar’e Stoudemire are having career low shooting numbers. They are being taken out of their comfort zones and being asked to do something they are just not comfortable doing. 

It is like taking a square peg and trying to fit it into a circle hole, it just cannot happen. This was a move that was a necessity if the Knicks hope to make anything of this season. Fans have waited over 10 years for a player the caliber of Carmelo Anthony, so moving him right now was not an option, so firing the head coach who he budded heads with was the next best decision. 

-Are Rumors a Distraction? 
Rumors are a part of the NBA and are always around. It is just something that players and coaches have to get used to and just it rub off. Before the news broke that head coach Mike D’Antoni was leaving, there were rampant rumors surrounding Carmelo Anthony. 

There were rumors that he wanted out of NY and was looking for a trade. He not only disagreed with D’Antoni’s coaching style, but was also supposedly not a fan of the upper management either. Rumors started swirling that the Knicks and Magic were engaging in talks surrounding around Anthony and Magic superstar Center Dwight Howard. The rumored trade was if the Knicks could secure a promise from Dwight Howard that he would sign an extension with them, they would package Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler for Dwight Howard and Hedo Turkoglu from the Magic. 

These rumors have died down since D’Antoni was dismissed, and there is now news that Dwight Howard has opted-in for playing with the Magic next season. I will believe all of this only after the trade deadline passes at 3 P.M. on Thursday afternoon, until then I am just going to sit back and relax and enjoy the show. For the record, Carmelo Anthony denies ever requesting a move, and says he is dedicated to the Knicks and this is where he wants to be. Again, ill believe it once I see it. 

-Return of Jamal Crawford 
Tonight Jamal Crawford returns to Madison Square Garden to play against his old team. The Knicks were players for Crawford this off-season, but were unable to come to an agreement and he decided to instead sign with Portland. 
Crawford was my favorite player during his time with the Knicks, and I always enjoy watching him play on the nights he returns. He was willing to take the big shots and was fazed by nothing. He did not back down from any challenge, and embraced the bright lights of New York. It was a shame to see him get moved 3 seasons ago, which is something he is used to and may have to prepare for again. 

There are rumors going around that Jamal Crawford will be part of a 3 team deal involving the Lakers, Timberwolves and Blazers. The proposed deal has Crawford ending up with the Timberwolves, with Michael Beasley going out west to the Lakers and Steve Blake returning to his old team the Blazers. I for one hope this deal does not happen until after the game so I have a chance to see Crawford in action against the Knicks tonight. 

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