It’s nice to start a posting with some positive news and notes, so let me first say it is still very early in the NBA season. We are about a quarter of the way through the shortened season, but not quite yet, and teams are still searching for their identity. It is still difficult to differentiate the contenders from the pretenders as the Philadelphia 76ers sit second in the East while the Boston Celtics are on the outside looking in. The Knicks own a 6-7 record and the eighth and final spot from the east after dropping their past three in a row.
For a team that came into the season with such high expectations, how could they be so mediocre? Many deficiencies we spoke about in the last post including the lack of a true point guard to facilitate the offense. It is still based primarily on individual effort from Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire. In their latest loss to the Orlando Magic, Melo took 40% of the team’s shots while only hitting nine of 27. The lack of chemistry is astounding with this team as they struggle to create a flow and ball movement offensively. They need to work the ball into Tyson Chandler more to collapse the defense and open up shooters. It is difficult not to continue to beat the drum of problems with the offense as a run and gun style team can’t keep up with opponents scoring. The problems on the defensive end of the court were, well expected.
Nobody ever claimed that Mike D’Antoni’s teams had a balanced attack. The only “D” you will ever find in respect to this coach won’t be found in his game plan or philosophy, but in his last name. Therefore in order to debunk the irony, he will henceforth be known as coach Antoni. Perhaps the Knicks need to bring in Ted Orion, the man who relpaced Gordon Bombay as coach of the Mighty Ducks and taught the team how to play two way hockey. Iman Shumpert continues to shine both in the hearts of fans and on the stat sheets currently sitting at third in the league in steals per game. The rookie plays tough and is an example to the veteran stars as to the type of game they need to start playing.
Individual efforts won’t fix these problems as they all stem from the core issue of chemistry. This unit is still in their first season together as Anthony didn’t
come to New York until late last season and there are many new pieces including Chandler and Shumpert. They need to learn each other’s tendencies and communicate, especially on defense. They aren’t bringing help from the weak side quick enough and are relying on Chandler to stop everything in the paint, but he can’t be expected to cover two men at once. If teams get Chandler into foul trouble early, the paint will be an open scoring lane. However in last night’s game it was the outside defenders who got worn out by Orlando’s shooters. With increased emphasis on Superman, guys like Ryan Anderson were left open and took advantage to the tune of a 17-35 night from behind the arc. This is where the communication is so important. Players need to realize who is stepping in for the double team and who is stepping out to pick up the open man.
Although the Knicks are in the playoff hunt, it is hard to consider them one of the top teams in the East. Before this losing streak they put together a four game win streak, their longest of the season. Three of the four were to the Pistons, Bobcats and Wizards, some of the worst in the association this season. The fourth win was an impressive victory against the 76ers in the Garden. Tomorrow the 4-8 Phoenix Suns come to Manhattan after playing the Bulls tonight. This should be an easy victory for New York as the Suns are currently riding a four game losing streak at the beginning of a five game road trip. Hopefully Coach Antoni will remind his former team why they should have held on to himself and Amar’e.
Can the Knicks turn it around? With what we have seen thus far how high is the ceiling for this team? Let us know what you think via our twitter (@ seeuinoctober) or leave us a comment.