Somewhere, Chuck Daly looked down and smiled as he saw the Bulls versus Knicks game a few nights ago. The Bulls took a classic page out of the old Bad Boys team, and got in to the heads of the Knicks, with hard physical play and pushing the Knicks out of their comfort zone and that achieved their goal of getting the win versus a more talented team. For the third time this year, the Knicks seemed to lose their confidence that took them through the Carmelo and Amare absences.
Any NBA season progresses in 3 phases:
- Initial Impression
- The Adjustment by the opponents by taking away what you do best.
- Recognizing and making your own adjustments to what the opponents do.
Note: Multiple occurrences of stages 2 and 3 may occur throughout the season.
A team will follow the example set by both the top player and the coach. As the season has progresses the Knicks, through the examples set by both the top player and the coach, have done well to assert themselves as a team that is a serious contender for not only the Atlantic Division but also the Eastern Conference crown. Not only was Melo showing a commitment to the defensive end and showing trust in his teammates but the team around him was also showing that they could not only accept but can be vital cogs in the season. Now that teams are aware that they are for real, the next step in the season’s development has begun.
Once teams have game film on what the Knicks are doing they will make adjustments to what is going on and see if they can get a team out of their comfort zone. The Bulls did this with their physical play. The lack of freedom of movement and shots not falling led to a deficit that the Knicks were not able to dig themselves out of at the end of the game.
The physical play also led to frustrations boiling to the surface. During the first part of the season the team showed that they could handle things not going their way, but the physical play and lack of calls seemed to be the straw that broke the camel’s back; this lead to Melo and Woody losing their cool and getting tossed out of the game.
The good points that can be gleamed from the game are that the team has a sense of pride and fight that will not go away. They stayed in the game and fought hard, almost pulling it out at the end. The supporting crew has the ability and confidence to hang in a game without Carmelo. This game also shows Carmelo that if he is not in the game, the team is able to excel without him. The benefit will be at the end of the season, if he needs a day to rest before the playoffs begin, he can take the time off and make sure he is at full strength.
Now that a possible blue print has been presented, other teams will tweak it to suit their team. They will see more of this type of play until they show that can maintain their composure and play through the physical play. These adjustments will help to diversify the offense come playoff time.