Friday, March 9, 2012

New York Knicks vs. Milwaukee Bucks Post-Game Recap

Final Score: New York Knicks 114 Milwaukee Bucks 119 

The game could not have started and ended any worse for the Knicks. Right from the beginning you knew this would be a crazy game seeing the starting lineups both teams were throwing out there. Neither team disappointed, delivering a fast pace game with lots of excitement. But, like in good ole Knicks fashion, they could not deliver 4 solid quarters of playing. After starting the game hitting their 11 first shots, the Knicks still managed to trail going into the 2nd quarter and for the remainder of the game. It was only one game, but this looks like a team that is not built to play at an up-tempo pace for a full 48 minutes. This is the 4th straight loss for the Knicks, who are losing their grip on the 8th seed in the playoffs. They are 1-4 since the All-Star break, seemingly losing all momentum after going on a 7 game win streak in mid-February. They now lead Milwaukee for the last seed in the playoffs after losing 7 of their last 10 games overall. 

-No Chandler, Jeffries=No Defense 
For a second straight game, the Knicks sorely missed the defensive presence of Tyson Chandler in the middle and Jared Jeffries on the perimeter. The Bucks shot 48 percent from the field, including a lights out 13-26 from 3point range. The overall shooting percentage is scary enough to look at as a Knicks fan, but the inability to stop them from the 3 point line is even more startling as the Bucks entered the game ranked 19th in the NBA in 3 point shooting, averaging only 6.6 makes per game. Iman Shumpert you would think could help solve that problem, but he only played 5 minutes total early in the game. It is unclear if Shumpert was injured or benched, but one has to think he would have slowed down the Bucks a little on the perimeter. The Knicks were also out-rebounded 39-34 overall, and 17-9 on the offensive glass. Chandler is hopeful to return for the Sunday afternoon match-up against division leading and rival Philadelphia 76ers. A return for Jared Jeffries is not as clear. 

-Flashback to 2005 
Baron Davis put on a show for Knicks fans in the 4th quarter, delivering his best game as a Knick putting up 9 points 9 assists 5 rebounds 2 steals and only 1 turnover. It seemed that Baron Davis got pumped up after his ex-teammate Stephen Jackson was talking trash from the Milwaukee bench. Davis playing well off the bench will help the Knicks immensely as his shot improves because of the problems the Knicks sometimes have executing their offense. 

-Little Production from the Wings 
Once again the starting Shooting Guard position for the Knicks had very little production. Landry Fields scored only 4 points against the Mavericks on Tuesday night, and Iman Shumpert had half of that against the Spurs when he drew the start on Wednesday. Tonight, J.R. Smith drew the start at the 2 and managed only 3 points. Fields started at the 3 tonight, his natural position, and scored 18 points. 

-Superstars Show up…For Half the Game 
Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony had arguably their best game while playing together this season, combining for 49 points. Stoudemire took advantage of the pick-and-roll opportunities presented to him tonight with the absence of Chandler, shooting 11-15 from the field. The only problem was they gave up that much, if not more on the defensive end of the court, showing little to no urgency until the last 4 minutes of the game. The Knicks were unable to stop Mike Dunleavy, Carlos Delfino, or Ersan Ilyasova, who combined for 24 makes from the field, resulting in 65 points between them. 

-Lin Bounces Back On Offense, Stays Consistent On Defense 
Jeremy Lin had his strongest game during this tough stretch for the Knicks, finishing with 20 points and 13 assists, but also had team high 5 turnovers. Lin and Davis played in the backcourt together for a period of time and ran the team with some success, cutting a 15 point lead for the Bucks in the 4th quarter to 1, but weren’t able to get all the way over the hump. Again, Lin struggled on defense though, unable to stop Brandon Jennings. Jennings seems to play differently against the Knicks compared to other NBA teams, presumably because the Knicks passed him up in the 2009 NBA Draft for Jordan Hill. Jennings finished with 25 points and 10 assists, putting on a show to start the 2nd half when he knocked down multiple straight buckets and handed out a number of assists leading to a 32-18 edge for the Bucks in the 3rd quarter. Add Jennings to the list of PG who has torched the Knicks recently in lop-sided affairs. 

New York Knicks vs. Milwaukee Bucks Pre-Game News and Notes March 9th

New York Knicks vs. Milwaukee Bucks 8:30 P.M. ET 

The Knicks look to end a 3 game losing streak tonight in Milwaukee against a Bucks team looking to bounce back after a tough loss Wednesday in Chicago. For a second game in a row, Tyson Chandler will not be playing because of a hamstring injury he suffered earlier in the week. Iman Shumpert will also be moved back to the bench out of the starting lineup because of the Chandler injury. The Bucks beat the Knicks earlier in the season 100-86 behind 36 points from Bucks Point Guard Brandon Jennings. 

-Inconsistent Rotation 
The Knicks again will be without Tyson Chandler and Jared Jeffries because of injuries. This causes yet another shakeup of the Knicks lineup and rotation. The Knicks will trot out their 3rd different starting lineup in as many games, going with Jeremy Lin, Landry Fields, Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Josh Harrellson. Iman Shumpert will move back to the bench, along with J.R. Smith, Baron Davis, and Steve Novak. Expect a spirited effort from Novak tonight as he is playing in front of family and friends returning to Milwaukee where he was born and raised. 

-Can Knicks Contain Brandon Jennings 
Since Brandon Jennings was passed up by the Knicks in favor of Jordan Hill in the 2009 NBA Draft, he has torched the Knicks to the tune of 20.1 points per game. In the eight games, the Knicks are 1-7 against the Bucks, with the lone win coming in Carmelo Anthony’s Madison Square Garden debut last season. Overall, the Bucks have taken 11 of the last 13 games from the Knicks. For the Knicks to win tonight they have to contain Jennings. He scored a season high 36 points in the first meeting this season in a blowout win for the Bucks. 

-What Happened to the Defense? 
The Knicks have struggled recently on the defensive end of the court, with the drop coinciding with the return of Carmelo Anthony. While Melo was sidelined, the Knicks gave up 90.2 points per game and in the seven games since that average has jumped to 102.1 points per game. During that seven game stretch the Knicks are 2-5. The Knicks also allowed 94 points per 100 possessions during Anthony's absence (which includes the win over Utah as Anthony played just six minutes due to injury). In the last seven games, the club has allowed 100.6 points per 100 possessions, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The Bucks are 18th in the NBA in offensive efficiency, so the Knicks will have to tighten things up if they hope to come out with a victory against a team they have struggled mightily against. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

New York Knicks vs. San Antonio Spurs Post Game Recap March 7th

Final Score: Knicks 105 Spurs 118 

Another lackluster performance for the Knicks tonight in San Antonio. Right from the outset of the game the Spurs set the tone of the game behind the play of Tony Parker, who finished with 32 points and 6 assists. Parker was able to get into the paint at will and picked apart the Knicks, basically putting the game away with 23 first half points. The Knicks were able to make a couple of runs, but were unable to sustain anything worthwhile, leading to a lopsided win for the Spurs. 

-No Defense For Knicks without Chandler and Jeffries 
Tyson Chandler was a surprise scratch from the game tonight with a hamstring injury and Jared Jeffries sat out after sustaining a sore knee in the previous game in Dallas. Josh Harrellson picked up the start in place of Chandler. Without these two the Knicks lacked any intensity on the defensive side of the ball. The Spurs waltzed into the pain at will with the Knicks seeming to have no intentions of stopping them, evident by the 60 points the Spurs had in the paint. With Amar'e being the main guy on defense playing against the pick-and-roll with Lin, the Spurs were able to pick apart the Knicks. Amar'e on multiple occasions left Lin out to dry, giving Parker free lanes to the basket. The Knicks were also out-rebounded by 10 and could not match up with the intensity of the Spurs. 

-Lack of Offensive Cohesion 
Carmelo Anthony bounced back from one of his worst performances against Dallas with a 27 point effort to lead the Knicks. Jeremy Lin chipped in 20 and Amar'e Stoudemire and J.R. Smith both scored 18, but you never would have guessed it from watching the game. The Knicks shot 42.7% from the field compared to the 54.1% shot by the Spurs. The Knicks were never able to build a consistent attack on the offensive end, relying too heavily on jump-shots. They are at their best when they are attacking the basket opening up easy shots for Stoudemire and Anthony. One positive was the Knicks were able to convert their forced turnovers into baskets, scoring 24 points off 17 Spurs turnovers compared to the 11 points scored off 10 Knick turnovers for the Spurs.

-Another PG Controversy on the Horizon? 
While Jeremy Lin did score 20 points, he again struggled with his floor game only having 4 assists and finishing the game with -12 (second worst on the team behind Stoudemire who had -21). While Baron Davis did not score, going 0-7 from the field, he did hand out 8 assists off the bench finishing the game +3. Once Davis gets back into game shape and gets more into the flow of NBA action his shooting should improve, which in-turn means more points for the Knicks. Once that happens, if it ever does, there could be very real chance of him supplanting Lin. Whether it is the players they are surrounded with, or the fact Lin is playing real minutes for the first time in his NBA career, the Knicks seem to be a more cohesive, well oiled machine when Davis is running the show.

New York Knicks vs. San Antonio Spurs Pre-Game News and Notes March 7th

New York Knicks vs. San Antonio Spurs 
Wednesday, March 7th 8:30 ET on MSG 

After dropping the last two against the Celtics and Mavericks, the road does not get any easier tonight in San Antonio against the Spurs. The Knicks are on the second night of a back-to-back while San Antonio should be well rested, last playing Sunday afternoon losing to the Denver Nuggets. Here are some things to watch for in tonight’s game. 

Changes to the Starting Lineup? 
-The starting lineup has been playing lackluster and uninspired basketball since the all-star break, putting the team in a whole right from the beginning sometimes too deep to recover from. Sluggish play from superstar Carmelo Anthony and a wearing down Jeremy Lin have contributed to the slow starts. Landry Fields also has not been playing well, seeing his minutes cut drastically with the addition of JR Smith and the emergence of Iman Shumpert and Steve Novak off the bench. So is tonight the night Mike D’Antoni finally makes a change to jumpstart the starting five? There are rumblings that a days after saying he will not shake up the lineup, that that is in fact what will be done. Iman Shumpert is expected to take over the starting Shooting Guard spot tonight for Landry Fields. This should help kick-start the Knicks earlier in games because of the intensity and energy that Shumpert brings to the game, especially on the defensive end of the court. 

Pick and Roll Defense 
-The Mavericks thrived against the Knicks in pick and roll situations. Jason Kidd was knockdown like normal from deep, going 3-6 and scoring a season high 15 points and dishing out 6 assists. Dirk Nowitzki also did his thing, scoring 28 points. The pick and roll defense will have to improve, and it starts with Jeremy Lin. For everything positive that Lin has brought the Knicks, he also comes with some negatives. One of those is his lateral quickness on defense. Lin at times seems he would have trouble guarding a garbage can. Opposing Point Guards have torched the Knicks in recent games, from Deron Williams scoring 38 to Rajon Rondo’s historic triple double, making Tony Parker who the Knicks should key in on tonight’s game. The Spurs are a lot like the Knicks in the offense they run, mostly pick-and-rolls-and-space-out offense, currently sitting 2nd in the NBA in 3point shooting percentage (39.6) and 3rd in makes (299). One thing the Knicks should stop doing to improve their defense is stop switching on the pick-and-rolls. The Knicks have a habit of switching at almost every opportunity, no matter which players are that are switching, which causes terrible match-ups for them. You will notice multiple times throughout the game Iman Shumpert or Jeremy Lin getting stuck guarding big-men on switches leading to easy baskets for the opposing team. Switching on defense is a good tactic when used sparingly and in certain situations, not as the game-plan. 

When Will We See The Old Carmelo Anthony? 
-The Knicks have to make it a point to get their struggling and seemingly disgruntled superstar more involved in not only the offense, but the game as a whole. Carmelo usually has big games after poor ones throughout the season. When he scored 13 points on Dec. 28 against the Warriors, he had 27 one night later against the Lakers. When he scored 13 points on Jan. 7 against the Pistons, he had 22 two nights later against the Bobcats. And then when he scored 12 points on Jan. 18 against the Suns, he had 35 two nights later against the Bucks. Can only hope for more of the same this time around, and hopefully another win as the Knicks are also only 1-2 in those Melo bounce back games. To get the offense moving, they need to get Melo moving. He is capable of getting easy baskets; he just has to be willing to get them. Melo thus-far has been settling for too many deep 2point shots, resulting in his worst season statistically in his career. If the Knicks want to get back to having sweet harmony on the offensive end during the beginning of Linsanity, they have to make it more of a point to get Melo involved in the offense, not have to make the offense himself. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

New York Knicks vs. Dallas Mavericks Pre-Game News and Notes March 6th

Knicks News: 
It was announced earlier this afternoon that Shooting Guard/Small Forward Bill Walker will be sidelined for 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery to his left elbow. Walker had been a part of the Knicks rotation through January and the early February before suffering the injury February 17th against the New Orleans Hornets. It is widely considered that if need Walker could have toughed through the injury, but because of the new found depth of the Knicks roster, minutes for Walker would have been hard to come by. Coach Mike D’Antoni is hopeful to have Walker back in time for the playoffs, but in the mean time will have to make due without the services of Sky-Walker. 

There are a number of people that are starting to become aware of Iman Shumpert’s play thus far in his rookie season and want to see him on the court more. These are mostly the same people that would like to see Shumpert take over the starting role from current Shooting Guard Landry Fields. D’Antoni acknowledges that Shumpert has been playing well, but has no intentions of changing the lineup. "I’m sticking with guys, we’re getting better," D'Antoni said. "You never know what the ripple effect is. The team is always fluid. That’s why I always said, even Baron, that’s always fluid. I’m never going to put a ceiling on somebody. But I like what we’ve got. Landry didn’t have a great game yesterday, but I’ve got complete confidence in him." In my opinion, there is no reason to mess with a good thing. Yes the Knicks have a losing record, but changing the lineup would only cause more chaos for D’Antoni in managing minutes for everyone. As long as the Knicks keep developing as they seem to currently be, everyone should be happy in the end. 

What To Watch For vs. Mavericks 

-How Tyson Chandler responds to his injuries 
Tyson Chandler has had his fair share of injuries throughout his career, and this season seems to be no different. Chandler has been battling through nagging injuries to his back and both wrists, and it seems now that the injury to his left wrist could cause some problems. When asked about the injury, Chandler responded with "It’s a lot of doctor stuff that me and you both would have to go back to school to understand. We’ll just say it’s sprains and stuff..... It’s a couple of different things." An MRI taken 3 days ago revealed the damage but Chandler intends to continue playing through the injury. It is believed as of now that the left wrist injury will not require any surgery, but will require plenty of rest. It will be interesting to see how Chandler comes out in the game against the Mavericks as he will be running on high adrenaline receiving his NBA Finals Championship ring and returning to the place he called home last season. 

-Can The Bench Keep It Going 
In the first meeting against the Mavericks, a 104-97 Knicks win, the bench play was lackluster for the Knicks. Jeremy Lin led the Knicks to a fast start, but Iman Shumpert was unable to run the offense allowing the Mavericks back into the game. This time around the Knicks will have Baron Davis to replace Lin, which should make the offense run a little bit smoother this time around. Bench play has been strength for the Knicks the past couple of games and look to continue their strong play against a formidable Mavericks bench which sports annual 6th man of the year candidate Jason Terry as well as veteran Lamar Odom and up and coming youngster Roddy Beaubois. 

-New Face In The Starting Lineup For Mavericks 
The Mavericks have been able to keep healthy for most of the season, but may have suffered a blow to their starting lineup. Starting Center Brandon Haywood badly rolled his ankle in the first minute of the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday and did not return. Replacing him was Ian Mahinmi, who had a strong game in his place against a tough Thunder interior of Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins, finishing with 13 points on 5-6FG’s with 5 rebounds 2 assists 1 block and 2 steals. Judging from those stats and his 6 fouls, Mahinmi showed a lot of energy and hustle off the bench and was prepared to play. The Knicks have to watch out for him and make him commit fouls just as the Thunder did to take him out of the game. The less inside presence the Mavericks show the easier it will be for the Knicks to work the paint with Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler. 

New York Knicks vs. Dallas Mavericks Post Game Recap March 6th

Final Score: Knicks 85 Mavericks 95 

The Mavericks had complete control for most of the game from start to finish. The only time the Knicks showed any life was the start of the 4th quarter when they went on a 15-0 run to take a 1 point lead behind the shooting of Steve Novak (13pts 4-10FG 4-8 3pt 3 Reb), defense of Iman Shumpert (3 steals) and the aggressiveness of Amar’e Stoudemire The Mavericks quickly responded with their own 14-0 run behind Dirk Nowitzki (28 pts 8-18FG 12-12FT) and Jason Kidd (16 pts 4 Reb 5 Ast) to put the game away. It was a tough game to watch as a Knicks fan outside of that 6 and a half minute stretch. The rest of the game was sloppy and uninspiring for the most part. 

-Technical Fouls 
The Knicks were whistled for 3 technical fouls in the game tonight while the Mavericks had one of their own. J.R. Smith, Tyson Chandler and Mike D’Antoni received them for the Knicks, and Dirk Nowitzki received one for the Mavericks. Technical fouls have been a problem for Tyson Chandler, who has racked up 10 thus far this season. It is something to keep an eye on for the remainder of the season, because if Chandler reaches 16, a mandatory game suspension is put in place. He is then suspended one game for every 2 technical following the 16th. The technical foul was all you really heard from J.R. Smith tonight, as he had another lackluster game off the bench. 

-Wear and Tear Becoming Evident 
Jeremy Lin did not have a bad game tonight, finishing with 14 points 7 assists and only 2 turnovers, but it was a struggle at points. He shot only 4-13 from the field, floating out towards the perimeter and not attacking the basket as much as Knicks fans are accustomed to seeing. He took multiple hard hits while driving to the basket, which could have played a part in him playing more on the perimeter. For the Knicks to succeed, they need Lin to continue breaking down the defense and attacking the paint, not shooting 3 pointers. This was the 3rd game in a row that the team played in a better rhythm with Baron Davis running the point instead of Lin. Davis was the one leading the team during the ferocious comeback to start the 4th quarter. 

Carmelo Anthony struggled again tonight, scoring only 6 points on 2-12 shooting from the field, 0-3 from 3 point and 2-4 from the foul line. Melo did have 8 rebounds, but only 1 assist. He showed aggressiveness in the 1st quarter, attacking the basket trying to get involved in the game but it did not show any results. At one point in the game, he looked more interested in carrying a conversation with Shawn Marion than the actual game, which resulted in one of the 16 Knicks turnovers (Melo threw an inbounds pass without looking, instead jawing with Marion. The result was a Jason Kidd steal.). For the rest of the game he looked disinterested and did not seem to care much about the outcome. He could be seen standing around just watching his teammates play. He took only one shot in the 4th quarter and was more than willing to become a spectator. Like everyone else, Melo needs to start developing chemistry and finding his niche with this new look Knicks squad. It would also be great to see Melo and Amar’e play well on the offensive end of the court in the same game. 

-Back to His Old Ways? 
One bright spot for the Knicks tonight was Amar’e Stoudemire. Stoudemire had a strong performance, showing some of the old bounce he had and finishing above the rim. He finished with 26 points on 10-18 field goals and 6-8 from the foul line to go along with 7 rebounds. "I went back to the old STAT, played uptempo basketball." Stoudemire said. Stoudemire provided the Knicks with timely buckets and also provided some unexpected defense. For a good part of the game, Stoudemire took it upon himself to guard Mavericks star and Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki. The game plan had originally called for defensive minded Tyson Chandler to guard Nowitzki, but Amar’e told the coaching staff he wanted to do it before the game started. Amar’e took Dirk out of his game for a large portion of the contest, even causing Dirk to uncharacteristically lash out at the referees, resulting in a technical foul. In my opinion, this was Stoudemire’s most complete game of the season because he had an impact not only on the offensive end of the court, but the defensive end of the court as well. Hopefully this is a building block game for Amar’e and he can continue dominating teams through the end of the regular season and into the playoffs. 

Next Game: Wednesday March 7th @ San Antonio Spurs 8:30 ET

Sunday, March 4, 2012

New York Knicks vs. Boston Celtics Post Game Recap March 4th

Knicks 111 Celtics 115 OT 

The Knicks and Celtics played another thriller this afternoon to add to the great games throughout their rivalry; and also gave Knick fans another disappointing loss. Paul Pierce knocked down a 3 pointer with under 5 seconds left to tie the game, which ended up going to overtime after Carmelo Anthony missed a jump shot in the corner at the buzzer. Referees were taking control throughout the game, but rightfully swallowed their whistles towards the end letting the players determine the outcome. 

Early foul trouble also hindered the Knicks, as Jeremy Lin picked up 2 early fouls. Baron Davis filled in valiantly off the bench for Lin, but turned the ball over too frequently (Davis and Lin combined for 12 of the 22 Knick turnovers). Carmelo Anthony also had to exit the game midway through the 3rd quarter after picking up his 4th foul. Carmelo's exit coincided with a Celtics run to make a 5 point halftime lead for the Knicks into an 8 point deficit going into the 4th quarter. Reading Carmelo Anthony's final numbers wont wow you, but he came up biggest when the Knicks needed him in the 4th quarter, scoring 11 of his 25 points in the final period of regulation. Same goes for Lin, who had a too many turnovers but did come up big for the Knicks in late game situations showing a lot of heart. It is another learning experience for Lin, who some people still forget is only playing about his 20th game with big minutes. 

- Rajon Rondo is a gifted point guard. At points during the game he took some ill-advised shots, but more than made up for it with his final stat line and play throughout. Rondo finished with 18 points 17 rebounds and 20 assists for his 4th triple double of the season. A game like this, at least 17-17-17, has only happened two other times in NBA history, Magic Johnson, who had 24 points, 17 assists and 17 rebounds on April 18, 1989 and Wilt Chamberlain who exceeded Rondo's amounts with 22 points, 25 rebounds and 21 assists on Feb. 2, 1968. The Celtics have to be re-thinking their trade demands for Rondo, as this team just is not the game without him on the court. 

-The Knicks 2nd unit showed up again, outplaying the starting 5 for most if not all of the game. The glaring difference in today's game was the play of the back-court. Even with an off game from JR Smith (2 pts, 1-6 FG, 0-3 from 3pt) the guards still had a great game overall, with Baron Davis and Iman Shumpert combining for a +/- of positive 19, compared to the Knicks starting back-court of Jeremy Lin and Landry Fields for negative 27 (Celtics starting back-court of Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen combined for +27). Also the contribution from Steve Novak for deep (14 pts 4-7 3pt) and Jared Jeffries on defense helped put the Knicks in a game in which the starting unit struggled. The Knicks benched outscored the Celtics bench 45-15, mostly dominating for the portions of the game they were in. It is nice seeing what 2 weeks ago was thought of as the weakest part of the team is now playing great basketball. 

-Amar'e Stoudemire had a decent game overall, going for 16 points on 7-16 FG and 1-2 FT and 13 rebounds. But he still seems without the bounce that made him one of the most dominant players in the NBA over the past seasons. One example would be in OT when he failed to finish his putback dunk attempt. Amar'e from seasons past would have ferociously dunked that ball instead of clanking it off the rim like what happened today. As a Knicks fan hopefully he can get back to his old ways and not look like an over-paid role player he seems to be becoming. 

Things To Take From Game Today: 

-How injured is Tyson Chandler's Wrist? 
Chandler spent most of the 4th quarter run on the bench, subbing in only in the last minute for defense. He did play the whole overtime period, which is a good sign, but was mostly a non-factor outside the 2 offensive rebounds after the game was mostly decided. He finished the game with only 8 points on 3-7 FG and 2-2 FT but did have a team leading 14 rebounds. You have to think Chandler will come out firing facing his old team in the Dallas Mavericks and finally receiving his championship ring. 

-4th Quarter Defense 
The Knicks again came out with fire and intensity throughout the 4th quarter, mounting the comeback to force the game into overtime. You wish as a Knicks fan they would show that same fire and intensity throughout the entire game not just here and there. Some coaching decisions could be second guessed however in the 4th quarter. D'Antoni does not do it often if ever, but you have to consider fouling on that last Celtic possession that resulted in a Pierce game tying 3 pointer. The Celtics cant beat you when your up 3 by making 2 FT's. Something just to consider during late game situations. 

The next game for the Knicks is Tuesday, March 6th @ Dallas Mavericks at 8:30 ET