Saturday, April 21, 2012

New York Knicks vs. Cleveland Cavaliers Post Game Recap April 20

Final Score: New York Knicks 90 Cleveland Cavaliers 98

The Knicks had a chance to take advantage of losses by teams ahead of them in the standings tonight and were unable to do so.  They came out flat and were unable to recover against a lowly Cavaliers team in Amar’e Stoudemire’s return to action after missing the past 13 games.  The Knicks will now have a difficult time overtaking the Boston Celtics or Orlando Magic to improve their playoff seeding.  A win by either team or loss by the Knicks will lock them into the 7th seed at best. 

-Lack of Urgency

The Knicks came out flat and complacent against a lottery bound Cavaliers team after learning about their playoff spot being locked up the night before.  That was the feeling that head coach Mike Woodson took out of the game.  "I've seen this happen over the years that I've been in this league," Woodson said.

"You clinch a [playoff] spot and it's like a sigh of relief and they stop playing. And then they think that they can gear it back up. There's nothing about tonight's game that I liked at all." 

Tyson Chandler chalked up the game to players feeling fatigued and tired.  Whatever the reason behind the lackluster performance, the Knicks need to turn it around and come out ready for their next game Sunday afternoon at the Atlanta Hawks. 

-Out Hustled and Muscled

The rebounding numbers were absurd in the game tonight.  The Knicks got out rebounded 52-32, getting beat to all the loose balls by a Cavaliers team that has nothing to play for but come out with more energy than the Knicks.  The domination did not stop there for the Knicks, as they were outscored 42-28 in the paint by the Cavaliers. 

One glaring stat when looking at the final score sheet is how badly the Knicks frontcourt was outplayed.  Tyson Chandler, Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony were out rebounded by the smaller and less talented Cavaliers front court of Antawn Jamison, Tristan Thompson and Anthony Parker 19-12. 

You know it was a tough night for the Knicks when your backup point guard is your leading rebounder.

-Showing Up in Short Notice

With Baron Davis being a late scratch due to the stomach flu, Mike Bibby was thrust into action on short notice.  The short notice did not seem to have a negative effect on either Bibby or his backup for the night Toney Douglas.  Bibby scored 12 points and added four assists.  Douglas added six points, six assists and a team leading nine rebounds off the bench. 

-Gotta get the cohesion and rhythm back

Right from the start you could tell something was a little different about the game than it had been in the last few weeks. With the return of Amar’e Stoudemire there will be a period of time they will need to work the Kinks out. Stoudemire struggled for most of the night being plagued by foul trouble.  He managed as many field goals as fouls (five). 

The Knicks tried to work Stoudemire into the offensive flow early and often, but was unable to get anything going.  It seemed to also ruin the offensive games of everyone but Carmelo Anthony, who scored 11 of his 12 points in the first quarter.  Anthony only had 1 attempt after halftime, sitting the whole 4th quarter as the Knicks were unable to mount much of a comeback.

The Knicks have three more games on the season to figure things out with Stoudemire returning from injury.  The first game is Sunday afternoon in Atlanta against he Hawks at 1:00 P.M. ET.

Tonight A Must Win For Rangers

Tonight's Game 5 between the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators is a must win game for the Rangers. After a disappointing overtime loss in Game 4, the Rangers need to regain their edge on home ice and take a 3-2 series lead. The Rangers need to come out with the intensity that their Head Coach, John Tortorella, comes with every night. If the Rangers cannot win tonight, there is a real good chance they will lose the series. Both games played in Ottawa this series have been very tight. Game 3 ended with a 1-0 victory for the Rangers. It was a hard fought win for the Rangers, and Henrik Lundqvist had one of his greatest playoff performances. In Game 4 the Rangers jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead with two power play goals but after that they fell flat. Ottawa was stronger on and off the puck, and beat the Rangers to nearly every loose puck. The Rangers looked to be out worked by the eighth seeded Senators, something the Rangers pride themselves on. It will be interesting to see what Ranger team comes to play tonight. Will we see a team that comes out fast with a good fore-check and a solid defense, or will we see a team that chases Ottawa all around their own end, and lose a majority of the face-offs? LGR

Friday, April 20, 2012

New York Knicks vs. Cleveland Cavaliers Pre-Game News and Notes April 20

Friday April 20th 7:30 P.M. ET
New York Knicks vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

The Knicks awoke tonight to the news that they are now definitely playoff bound.  With the loss suffered by the Milwaukee Bucks last night to the Indiana Pacers, the Knicks locked up a playoff spot for the second consecutive year.  The Knicks cannot take it easy now, as they need wins if they want to win the division or move up the standings.  The Knicks will finish up the regular season by traveling to Atlanta for a game Sunday then finishing up with two home games against the Clippers and Bobcats next week. 

-Team News and Notes

With Amar’e Stoudemire returning to the lineup tonight, moves and decisions had to be made.  Stoudemire will be inserted into the starting lineup from the start, which means someone has to go back to the bench.  Mike Woodson has decided that man will be Landry Fields, leaving Iman Shumpert in the starting lineup along with Baron Davis, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler.  Fields can still be in for big minutes because Davis and Stoudemire will be on minute restrictions to start. 

The Knicks also made some front office decisions today.  Jared Jeffries is expected to sit out the remainder of the regular season in hopes that his knee will heal in time for the playoffs.  With this news, the Knicks made a roster move, signing Dan Gadzuric.  Gadzuric will add a big body and depth to the Knicks for the playoffs and end of the season.  He is very active around the basket and is very aggressive on the boards.  This is something that the Knicks desperately need facing a potential first round match up with the Chicago Bulls. 

To make room for Gadzuric, the Knicks waived Bill Walker.  Walker was just returning from left elbow surgery and had not been receiving minutes upon his return. 

-Get off to a quick start

Much like Wednesday night when the Knicks jumped out to an early 21 point lead over the Nets and cruised to a win, doing the same tonight would be beneficial.  If they jump out to an early start they can ease their way to victory in a game which is expected to be lopsided in favor of the Knicks.  Getting some rest for players like Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler would also be very beneficial for the playoff stretch.

-Maintain Rhythm

The Knicks have been in a nice groove on the offensive end running the offense through Carmelo Anthony.  They must figure out a way to continue this with Amar’e Stoudemire returning to the lineup.  The Knicks at times struggle with both Anthony and Stoudemire on the court together, looking confused and lacking an idea of how to score.  They have a total of four games to start getting it together before the playoffs start. 

-Continued Bench Production

With the playoff now a lock, bench production will become even that more crucial.  The presence of the bench will be very important if the Knicks want to make some noise during the post season.  The Knicks have compiled a very deep bench with the possibility to cause problems for opposing teams.  Specialists like Steve Novak and Jared Jeffries and instant offense from J.R. Smith are all important when it comes to playoff time.  Mike Woodson will be looking to tighten his rotation and really set up playing time and situations for players in these last four games.  

New York Knicks vs. New Jersey Nets Post Game Recap April 18

Final Score: New York Knicks 104 New Jersey Nets 95

The Knicks leave New Jersey for the last time with fond memories.  The Knicks jumped out to an early 21 point lead and never looked back cruising to the easy victory in their last match up with the Nets before they move to Brooklyn.  The win kept the Knicks lead over the Philadelphia 76ers for 7th place in the Eastern Conference at a game and gained another game on the Milwaukee Bucks who sit 3 ½ games behind the Knicks with 4 to play.  The Knicks continued their spirited play under Mike Woodson totally turning around their season.   They have gone from six games under .500 on March 14th when he was hired to a season-high four games over .500, running their record to 15-5 under Woodson.

-Carmelo Stays Hot

Carmelo Anthony has been lights out basketball for a couple weeks now, and he continued it Wednesday night.  It took Anthony no time to get going against the Nets, scoring 21 points in the 1st quarter alone.  The 21 points was only one less than the whole Nets team was able to muster for the quarter.  His first quarter included 4 three pointers and his first six shots of the game.  He made 5-7 from the 3 point line scoring from anywhere and everywhere.  Anthony has scored at least 30 points in five straight games. 

-Giving Anthony Some Help

Tyson Chandler had yet another efficient game for the Knicks tonight.  He had another double-double, going for 18 points and 10 rebounds.  Chandler did most of his damage from the foul line, going 8-11 from the line and 5-7 from the field. 

J.R. Smith also had a nice game off the bench, scoring 15 points and adding eight rebounds of his own.  He struggled from the field, going 6-16, but did not let that effect the rest of his game.  Smith has struggled from the field at times this season, but still helps the team in other ways.  For example, tonight he had the 8 rebounds, good for 2nd most on the team.  Earlier in the month he set a career high with 9 assists in a win over the Magic.  One consistent for Smith though is that he will give effort on the defensive end.  Even when he’s struggling on offense, the defensive pressure will also be given.

-Unable to fully avoid Complacency

The Knicks were able to come out strong and set the tone early in the Nets, evident by the 21 point lead they built.  They were able to control the game throughout the whole first half, but once the 2nd half started they seemed to lose their edge.

The Knicks made only one field goal through the first 7:49 of the third quarter.  This enabled the Nets to get back into it, cutting the Knick lead down to five with 2:31 left in the quarter.  Overall, the Knicks shot a poor 4-17 from the field and was outscored by the Nets 24-14. 

Play coming out of the half is something the Knicks have to figure out and address with the season coming to an end and the playoffs right around the corner.  The 3rd quarter has been the Achilles heel for the Knicks all season, but has been less problematic since Mike Woodson took over as head coach.  The Knicks start games off strong and should try doing the same things when coming out to start the 2nd half.

The next game for the Knicks will be Friday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Cleveland.  If all goes well Thursday, Amar’e Stoudemire is expected to make his return to the lineup and start.  Stoudemire has missed the last 13 games for the Knicks, who have gone 9-4 in his absence.  

DJ 4K?

Last night Derek Jeter tied Dave Winfield for 18th on the all-time hit list with 3,110 hits. At 37 years of age is it possible that Jeter has a legitimate shot at 4,000 hits? So far this year Jeter is off to one of his best starts in his career. He is hitting .373 with 22 hits, 4 home runs, and 11 RBI. Since his 3,000th hit Jeter has looked like the Jeter of the late 90's and early 2000's. He is seeing the ball better than ever, and he is hitting to the opposite field, and with some power. Jeter has been criticized about getting older and not being able to get to as many balls in the field as he used to. He was also under criticism when he was pressing for his 3,000th hit. It looked like Jeter's bat was slowing down and he wouldn't be able to hit like the Jeter of old. Now Jeter is on a tear, and he makes the plays in the field.

With all of that said, is it such a stretch to say that Jeter can play four or five more years after this season and possibly eclipse 4,000 hits? Like any other player in professional sports, if Jeter can stay healthy and in the lineup, he will give himself a real shot at 4,000 hits. Jeter will most likely have to play until he is 41 or 42 years old, and will have to average between 165 and 200 hits a year, but he won't have to be an every day fielder for the Yankees with young shortstop Eduardo Nunez. If Jeter can continue his hot hitting this year and get to within 750 hits of 4,000 by season's end, the talk might become a little more serious about Jeter joining a club that only two men have joined (Pete Rose, Ty Cobb).

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ranger Series Best Two Out of Three Now

Wednesday the Rangers blew an early 2-0 lead and dropped Game 4 to the Senators 3-2 in overtime. The Rangers got Ottawa to take two early penalties and cashed on both opportunities. It would seem that a 2-0 lead would give the Rangers momentum, but in fact it was Ottawa that gained the momentum and played like a desperate team the rest of the way. The Rangers on the other hand went into retreat mode and tried to cling onto the two goal lead, hoping Lundqvist could repeat his Game 3 performance. The Rangers could not hold on and gave up two goals in the second to tie the game. The Rangers spent much of the second period in their own end trying to hold off the persistent Ottawa attack. The Rangers let Ottawa control the puck in their zone, and tried to get in the shooting lanes. This kind of hockey can only take a team so far in a game. The Rangers need to be more aggressive in their own zone, and stop letting the Senators defense pinch so deep and keep the puck in. The Rangers need to see the defense pinching and one pass will lead to an odd man rush.

Aside from the Rangers blowing their lead and playing defense most of the night, there didn't seem to be any sense of urgency from the Rangers. It looked like they were playing a regular season game where they had nothing to play for at some points. They were beaten to almost all the loose pucks by Ottawa, and when the Rangers needed to win a face-off, they couldn't. There is a lot of room for improvement for the Rangers between now and Saturday night, starting with their level of intensity. Hopefully the Garden faithful can get them off to a fast start and a strong finish. It's just like Giant's Head Coach Tom Coughlin said all year "You have to finish."

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Antonio Cromartie Expecting Twins

Congratulations Antonio Cromartie who is expecting twins in the near future with his wife. I'm not sure how many children this is for the Jet's cornerback, maybe twelve or thirteen. I think Cromartie needs to relax making magic in the bedroom and maybe spend a little more time focusing on his football career. Congrats anyway Antonio!

New York Knicks vs. New Jersey Nets Pre-Game News and Notes April 18

Wednesday April 18th 7:30 P.M. ET
New York Knicks vs. New Jersey Nets

After a great win last night against the Boston Celtics on national television, the Knicks get right back at it tonight with a quick turnaround against the New Jersey Nets.  The Knicks currently sit 3 ½ games behind Boston for the Atlantic Division title and lead the Philadelphia 76ers by 1 game for 7th place.  This will be the 3rd meeting between the Knicks and Nets, with each team winning one so far this season.  This will also be the last time the Knicks visit New Jersey, as the Nets are prepared to move to Brooklyn for the start of next season.  Everything is lining up for this to be a trap game for the Knicks, so they have to come out strong from the start and put away the Nets.

-Avoid Complacency

Coming off a big victory like last night for the Knicks, it is common for teams to come out flat in their next game.  This is especially true when the next opponent is one that should be easily handled, which is the situation the Knicks are in tonight.  They have to avoid coming out flat and not give the Nets any confidence.  The Nets are eliminated from playoff contention so this game is exponentially more important for the Knicks.  This game will not be a cake walk as the Nets are not going to back down to the Knicks.  Putting them away early will be beneficial for the Knicks because if they let the Nets hang around till the end the result may not be what Knick fans are hoping for.

Carmelo Anthony has become a leader on both ends of the court since Amar'e Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin went down with injuries.  It will fall on his shoulders to make sure the team comes out ready to play with energy and intensity. 

-Injury Updates

The Knicks now have another person re-added to the injury list.  Baron Davis was under the weather and tweaked his hamstring in the game against the Celtics last night.  Davis was limited to just 18 minutes last night because of the various ailments.  He also had to cut short his morning shoot around because of a knee problem.  This is something to keep an eye on because the Knicks are deathly thin at PG with Jeremy Lin going down injured and Mike Woodson not having confidence in Toney Douglas.  Look for Bibby to get ample opportunities to shine again tonight. 

Jared Jeffries will again be on a minutes limit tonight and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.  He is returning from a knee injury which has plagued him all season.  The Knicks can afford to rest him for spots now, but come playoff time they will need his defensive expertise to succeed.

The Nets are not unscathed when it comes to the injury front.  Superstar Point Guard Deron Williams was announced out for tonight’s game last night because of a strained calf.  It is the same calf injury that cost Williams 4 games in March.  Sundiata Gaines is expected to start in place of Williams. 

-Defensive Intensity

With the Nets playing without their best player in Deron Williams it is setting up for the Knicks to come out flat because they under-estimate the opposition.  That is a terrible mindset to have and will destroy the Knicks if that is indeed how they come out.  Instead the Knicks need to turn up the defensive pressure even more and rattle all the players that will be moving up in the rotation because of the injuries. 

The Nets can not be taken lightly though as they still have dangerous players.  Recently the Nets have sported three starters who have been explosive on the offensive end in Gerald Green, MarShon Brooks and Kris Humphries.  They are playing as if they are still in the playoff race and cannot be taken lightly.  It will take another top notch defensive effort from the Knicks to slow down those three and the rest of the Nets.  

Jets Won't Win With Two Offenses

Rex Ryan and his New York Jets are fully confident that they can be a successful offense with two quarterbacks, and two offenses. They believe that they can incorporate newly acquired Tim Tebow successfully into a "wildcat" ground and pound offense. The Jets have added to their list of issues by adding Tebow. There is no doubt that there will be quarterback controversy during camp in August between Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez. Tebow will work his behind off to take the starting position from Sanchez, and don't let Tebows words make you think otherwise. Sanchez has been put in a position he is not used to. He has another quarterback on his team who can take his starting job. Although Tebow does have a poor completion percentage, and throws more than half of his balls into the feet of his receivers, Tebow is a winner, and that is what New York wants. Now when it comes to the starting quarterback position, Sanchez will have all of the pressure on his shoulders. It has been said that Tebow has a tremendous fan base, and they want to see him play. By the time the preseason is over and the regular season is set to begin, we could see number 15 taking more snaps than number 6. Sanchez is a good quarterback who needs to show he is the one to lead this team, and that they don't need to bring in Tebow to run a wildcat offense that was abandoned by creator Tony Sparano in Miami. If Rex Ryan has any control over his team, Sanchez will be the starting quarterback at the start of the regular season, and the Jets also need to address their issues on the offensive line.

Boston Celtics vs. New York Knicks Post Game Recap April 17

Final Score: Boston Celtics 110 New York Knicks 118

Mike Woodson has stuck with winning the Atlantic Division as the goal for this Knicks team, and with the performance put on by the team tonight he is not alone.  The Knicks kept their division title hopes alive tonight taking care of business at the Garden.  The Knicks kept their hopes alive for the division and moved a full game ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers for 7th place in the Eastern Conference in the process. 

-Carmelo Stays Hot

Carmelo Anthony once again put on a show for the Knicks faithful at the Garden.  He kept up his average of 30 points per game since March 26th going for 35 points.  The more impressive stats are the team leading 12 rebounds and 10 assists Anthony added, going for his second career triple-double and first with the Knicks.  Anthony set the tone for the Knicks right from the start, scoring 12 points in the first quarter.

A key to his stat-stuffing game was his aggressiveness on offense.  Not only was he attacking the basket, but he was following his own misses and totaled four offensive boards for the game.  This enabled him to get easy put backs on his own misses and make sure to keep the Celtics out of striking distance, keeping the difference around 10 points the whole game.

Where Anthony made another big impact was on the defensive end of the court.  When the rest of the players on the roster see the superstar player giving it his all on defense, they will follow suit.  Players on the team look to Anthony for leadership and he has not disappointed since Mike Woodson has come on board. 

-Change of Pace

The Knicks seemed to never fully buy into what Mike D’Antoni was trying to get them to run while he was the head coach.  That is no longer a problem under Mike Woodson.  Mike Woodson and his players all agreed that the Knicks were settling to much Sunday night against the Heat, which resulted in a lot of deep contested jump shots down the stretch; which enabled the Heat to put the Knicks away.

If you look at the stats you will see the Knicks took 32 3 point shots tonight, which would constitute as deep jumpers much like against the Heat.  The difference tonight was they were in rhythm and the ball movement was more on point.  The thing that helped most was the utilization of the skip pass (passing the ball from one side of the court to the other over the defense, not going around the horn).  This threw off the Celtics rotations and left Knick shooters wide open. 

The Knicks tied an NBA record knocking down 14/21 3point attempts in the first half alone.  They finished the game an insane 19/32 from deep.  You would think the Knicks got lucky and were just knocking down shots, which may have been the case sometimes but they came into the game with a game plan and executed it excellently to throw off the Celtics. 

-Bench Play and Players Step Up

The Knicks bench came in and dominated tonight.  Paced by 3 point extraordinaire Steve Novak (8-10 3 point shooting) and J.R. Smith (8-16 FG 7-10 3PT FG), who each scored 25 points, the Celtics bench stood no chance.  The Knicks benched outscored the Celtics bench 55-2, giving the Knicks the edge they needed to get the victory. 

Not to be forgotten is the great play of Mike Bibby.  Bibby added a 3 pointer of his own and also contributed 5 rebounds and 6 assists.  It was easily Bibby’s best game as a Knick as he controlled the game throughout as Baron Davis again struggled tonight because of all his nagging injuries.  It was nice to see Bibby come in and play well as this has been a difficult season for him in New York.

The efforts of Tyson Chandler also can not go without recognition.  Along with his patented defense, Chandler added a big 20 points for the Knicks to go along with his 7 rebounds.  The Knicks again could not find one player to step up next to Carmelo Anthony; instead they found 3 as Chandler, Novak and Smith joined Anthony as the 4 Knicks to score 20+ points each.

Next up for the Knicks is a meeting with the New Jersey Nets Wednesday night.  It will be the last visit for the Knicks to New Jersey as they are set to re-locate to Brooklyn for next season.  The game starts at 7:30 P.M. ET and can be seen on MSG. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The King has Spoken

Henrik Lundqvist's game three performance last night in Ottawa was exactly what The New York Rangers needed in order to gain every ounce of momentum back from The Ottawa Senators. Lundqvist was brillant stopping all 39 shots faced, including several tremendous stops in the final minute of the game. Basically, Lundqvist sent a message to everyteam in the NHL, especially the Senators. That message was that King Henrik can single handedly beat you every night out.

Boston Celtics vs. New York Knicks Pre-Game News and Notes April 17

Tuesday April 17th 8:00 P.M. ET
Boston Celtics vs. New York Knicks

Since becoming Head Coach of the Knicks, Mike Woodson has made it clear that the goal is to win the Atlantic Division and unseat the Boston Celtics.  That would make tonight’s game against those Celtics, and virtually every game the rest of the season a must win game for the Knicks, who currently sit 4 games behind the Celtics for the division lead.  A loss tonight would put the Knicks 5 ½ games behind the Celtics, putting the division out of reach.  The Knicks also sit ½ game behind the 76ers for the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference and 2 games ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks, so the team realizes the importance of tonight’s game.

-Can they slow down Rondo?

Rajon Rondo is a main reason for the Celtics percolating since the All-Star break.  Rondo is averaging 10 points, 13 assists, five rebounds and two steals in that time frame.  He also shows up for games against the Knicks as he has averaged 13.8 assists per game in his last 10 against the Knicks, including the playoffs.  Let us also not forget the historic game he put up last time out against the Knicks when he tallied 18 points 20 assists and 17 rebounds in a Celtics overtime win.

The onus of slowing down Rondo will fall upon Iman Shumpert.  Shumpert has gained a reputation as one of the best perimeter defenders in the league and it will be interesting to see how he fares against Rondo tonight. It will come down to a team effort slowing down the dynamic Rondo, but it will start with Shumpert.

-Help Wanted, Capable Scorer

Carmelo Anthony is red-hot this month, scoring 40 points on two separate occasions and averaging 30 points a game since Amar’e Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin went down with injuries.  Anthony will look to continue his streak tonight while at the same time looking for someone to give him some help until injured players return. 

Iman Shumpert offered his opinion and he believes that the team has been caught being stagnant and standing around watching Carmelo Anthony do his thing on offense.  He is definitely right, with Sunday being a good example as Anthony scored 42 points but the rest of the starters could muster only 19 points on 37% shooting. 

Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith have seemed to be rotating who will step up, but neither have done it on a consistent enough basis to help take the onus off Anthony.  Tyson Chandler has given some big games on the offensive end as well, but he is much more important to the Knicks defensive effort to ask him to be the 2nd option on offense as well.  Who will it be to step up tonight for the Knicks if they are to pull off the victory?

-Bring the Pressure

The Knicks have to take the Celtics out of their comfort zone to be successful tonight.  The Celtics are very methodical in how they go about their business so the Knicks should look to exploit this by playing high pressure defense and forcing turnovers to get into the open court.  If the Knicks are able to control the tempo it will go a long way for them as they are obviously the underdogs against the Celtics.  This will also help because the Knicks and Celtics are known for tight finishes.

The first two meetings this season were decided by 2 points each, with the first on Christmas day coming down to the wire.  The most recent one was an overtime thriller in which the Celtics needed Paul Pierce to knock down a 3 pointer at the end of regulation.  The Celtics then went on to take care of the Knicks in overtime. 

With a close game almost all but guaranteed, the Knicks need to stay composed and not let the Celtics take them out of their game.  The Knicks will have a raucous home crowd behind them and should use that to their advantage as they try to solidify their playoff standing and overtake the Celtics for the Atlantic Division crown. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

King Henrik at it Again!!!!

The Rangers picked up a huge win in Ottawa Monday night against the Senators. Henrik Lundqvist made 39 saves and none bigger than his two saves in the final seconds of the third period to secure the shutout. BrIan Boyle scored his third goal of the Playoffs and his second game winning goal of the series. This was a crucial win for the Rangers who have now regained home ice and lead the series 2-1. Chris Kreider made his season debut in Game 3 and played on a line with Brad Richards and Marion Gaborik. Game 4 will be Wednesday night in Ottawa.

Hagelin Gets Three Games? Carkner Gets One?

Saturday night's game between the Rangers and the Senators took an ugly turn just two minutes into the game when Carkner, who only dressed for Ottawa to take out Boyle, blindsided Boyle and then sucker punched him, and took him to the ground. Carkner continued to throw punches while Boyle covered his face for protection.Later in that game Carl Hagelin finished his check on Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson, and got his elbow up into Alfredsson's head. Alfredsson did not return to the game. Hagelin received a five minute major , and no misconduct. Hagelin and Carkner both had hearings with the NHL Sunday afternoon and suspensions were handed out. Hagelin gets three games and zcarkner gets one game. This decision is the reverse of what I thought was going to happen. Shanhan described Hagelin as lining Alfredsson up and recklessly going at him and hitting him into the boards. I watched the hit by Hagelin and all I saw was him get his arms up high on the hit. Alfredsson had possession of the puck and just cleared it when Hagelin came in for the check. I may be wrong but isn't that hockey? The only reckless part of it was that Hagelin got his arms up high. It was a clearly a hockey play. Shanahan and the NHL reallly need to re-consider how they are going about how they discipline the players. She a Weber took Henrik Zetterberg's head and slammed it into the glass like he was slamming his head into a turnbuckle in the wrestling ring. Carkner "assaults" Boyle, and I use the word assault because that's what it was, and gets a one game suspension. But Hagelin, he gets the multiple game suspension for following through on a check and getting his arms up high. This a a bad blow to the Rangers lineup. If the Rangers are smart they will just continue to play their kind of hockey that got them this point. Let the Senators send their "goons" out to cheap shot them, if the Rangers want to be physical with Ottawa, like I think they should, it needs to be clean and no stupid penalties.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Miami Heat vs. New York Knicks Post Game Recap

Final Score: Miami Heat 93 New York Knicks 85 

In what could be a potential first round playoff match up in the Eastern Conference, the Miami Head defeated the Knicks 93-85. But with the loss tonight, the Knicks fell back into 8th place in the Eastern Conference, a half game behind the Philadelphia 76ers. This makes the playoff picture a little murkier as the Knicks are now four games behind the Boston Celtics for the Atlantic Division and 2 games ahead of the 9th place Milwaukee Bucks. The only thing being taken out of this game is that Carmelo Anthony could use a little help with carrying this team. 

-Carmelo Stays Hot 

Carmelo Anthony was once again unstoppable Sunday afternoon, leading the Knicks with 42 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists. The 42 points were the most by an individual against the Heat this season. This afternoon was Anthony’s second 40 point effort this month alone, taking over the offensive slack left behind by injuries to Amar’e Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin. 

The problem is still persisting for the Knicks to find that capable and consistent scorer behind Anthony. Amar’e Stoudemire is expected to come back this week, and Knick fans can only hope he returns to the form he was showing before his back injury when he finally looked to be rounding into shape. The sooner Stoudemire is able to return the better for the Knicks because they are a more dangerous team with him in the lineup. 

Dwayne Wade offered his opinion of the Knicks after the game saying, “Amar’e is obviously a dynamic player. He's one of the best players in our game. He's always putting pressure on the defense and on the rim. No question they're a tougher team, they're a better team with him and I'm sure he'll be ready when the playoffs come.” 

He continued with, “We understand they are a man down, but they've been a man down all year and always found a way to pick it up, stay competitive and be a good team. This is a very good team that's playing a lot better no matter whose out on the court." 

-Gotta Get Going on Offense 

Outside of Carmelo Anthony there really was no other scoring option for the Knicks. J.R. Smith scored 16 points, but went only 6-15 from the field. No other Knick scored in double figures in the game. Multiple times throughout the game the Knicks became stagnant on offense. 

One example was in the 3rd quarter, when the Knicks went on a stretch lasting 5:20 without scoring a field goal. This streak included a Novak 3 pointer taken off the board because of a tacky offensive foul called against Shumpert. The Heat increased their lead from one to seven points in that time span. That means two things, one obviously being the Knicks couldn’t score but also that the Knicks defense was still on par. Defense is what the Knicks are going to have to rely on if they are going to make noise in the playoffs. 

-More Injury Concerns 

Tyson Chandler has been dealing with a number of injuries all season and Sunday afternoon was no easier. Chandler banged knees with Joel Anthony in the 3rd quarter, and was in obvious pain. He missed the subsequent free throws but was able to grab the offensive rebound. He sat for his normal rest after that and was able to return to the game at his normal time in the 4th quarter. The Knicks cannot afford Chandler to miss any time because their defense just does not respond in the same way without him on the court. 

Another thing to keep an eye on for the Knicks is Jared Jeffries. He has just returned from a knee injury and has been on a minute limit since his return. In addition to the knee, Jeffries suffered a cut on his chin courtesy of a collision with Lebron James. Jeffries needed to receive 3 stitches after the injury. 

The Knicks next game is Tuesday back at the Garden against division leading and rival Boston Celtics at 7:30 P.M. ET. If the Knicks want to keep dreams of winning the division alive this is a must win game as they currently sit 4 games behind the Celtics for the Atlantic Division title. 

Miami Heat vs. New York Knicks Pre-Game News and Notes April 15

Sunday April 15th 1:00 P.M. ET 
Miami Heat vs. New York Knicks 

The Knicks continue their three game home stand Sunday afternoon in a matinee game against the Miami Heat and their big 3. The Knicks are coming off an easy victory over the Washington Wizards, which improved their record to 31-28. The Knicks currently hold a 2 ½ game lead over the Milwaukee Bucks in the playoff race and sit in 7th place holding the tiebreaker over the Philadelphia 76ers. They also sit 3 games behind the Orlando Magic for 6th place in the Eastern Conference and 3 ½ games behind the Boston Celtics for the Atlantic Division crown. 

-Defensive Intensity 

Since Mike Woodson has taken over as the Knicks head coach, the team has gone 13-4 and been a top defensive team. They have been holding opponents to 88.8 points per game, ranking 2nd in the NBA. This is going to be key in the game against the Heat. The Heat sport the 2nd best record in the Eastern Conference, but struggle against some of the top defensive teams in the NBA. This month alone the Heat have lost to the Grizzlies, Bulls, and Celtics twice, teams who all sport top rated defenses. The Knicks are looking to add their names to that list by using the same tactics. 

-Small Ball Match-ups 

With the injuries the Knicks are suffering through, they have been using a smaller lineup with Carmelo Anthony at the Power Forward position with Iman Shumpert moving into the lineup. Some teams can over power the Knicks because of the smaller lineup, but the Heat are actually one team the Knicks match up with well. You could even argue the Knicks hold the edge in the matchups depending on how the Heat play it. 

The Knicks have had a potent offense with Anthony playing the 4. There is no Power Forward in the NBA who can contain Anthony on the offensive end, giving the Knicks a huge edge. You would think the Knicks would have the same problem, but Anthony can hold his own on the defensive end. Also, throwing the ball into the post can throw teams off and change their game plans all together. 

Luckily for the Knicks, the Heat do not have dominant big men to worry about. Instead, the Heat are the ones who will have all the problems to answer. Anthony and Lebron James are expected to be matched up for most of the game with Dwayne Wade and Iman Shumpert squaring off as well. 

Where does this leave the last member of the Heat’s big 3 you ask? They are in a quagmire of sorts with him. Does Erik Spoelstra trust Chris Bosh in handling Tyson Chandler going small against the Knicks, or does he go with a traditional lineup and just hope Bosh can slow down Carmelo Anthony and leave bangers Ronny Turiaf and Joel Anthony to deal with Chandler? It will be an interesting development to keep an eye on. Game pace and tempo will be what dictates the moves being made. 

Time to Get Physical

The New York Rangers dropped game 2 in OT to the Senators last night. The Rangers need to get more physical and not take these cheap shots that Ottawa keeps throwing at them. I know it's better to be the bigger man and walk away from Ottawa's antics, but enough is enough. It's time the Rangers get a little nasty and a little dirty like most of the other teams in the Playoffs. Boston loves to give a shot after the whistle and Ottawa is doing the same thing as Boston. Another thing, Brandon Dubinsky's ejection last night for being the "third man in" has to be one of the worst calls I have ever seen. That should go to the NHL and whatever referee made the call should be dropped from doing anymore playoff games. That was terrible, and it took one of the Rangers most energetic players out of the game for protecting his player from some goon who wants to throw punches at a defenseless player.