76ers @ Knicks: MSG 7pm
The Knicks are back home, losers of four in a row and five of six. They are stumbling to regain their identity. Their effort in the road loss to the Raptors was only on display in the second and fourth quarters. It is obvious they are relying heavily on isolation basketball. They jumped out to scoring 32 points in the first quarter, but gave up just as many. The Knicks turnovers have also been jumping up, which leads me to believe that the rest of the NBA has learned how to stop the Knicks; PnR offense which frustrates Raymond Felton and therefore leads to more isolation from Anthony and JR Smith.
With the Sixers, the Knicks have one major player to stop and that is Jrue Holliday. He starts everything for Philly; he is a dead eye shooter and averages almost 9 assists per game. The negative part of Jrue’s game is that he averages almost four turnovers a game…the Knicks need to sick Shumpert on him from the get go…If not this could get ugly. I think the Knicks are fed up and will come out blazing, translating to an easy win. With that being said, that win can lead back to complacency. That is the MO of this team; over confidence leading to less effort and future losses, this needs to stop pronto.
The Knicks need to make adjustments to four things: Their defense, attitude, starting lineup, and their playbook. The Knicks must get back to being more creative offensively and more disciplined defensively, by not switching too often as we’ve been saying here so often. A large part of this is because Felton is not a good defender, Jason Kidd struggles against faster guards and Iman Shumpert is playing out of position. One way to fix this is to move Iman Shumpert to his more comfortable shooting guard slot and to start either James White at the three or new Knick, Kenyon Martin when ready. With White, he can hold the slot until Stoudemire comes off the bench and moves Melo to the three. If the Knicks start Martin, which is a better idea, Kmart can guard 4’s while Melo guards 3’s, and offensively Carmelo continues to go right at other power forwards and Martin can box out the much smaller 3’s.
Iman Shumpert is clearly lacking confidence and lateral movement; this shows how important his athleticism is to his game. His confidence came from locking down shooting guards, not by chasing three’s around screens. I believe the bench needs the scoring of STAT and Smith, therefore they shouldn’t move into the starting lineup. With Shumpert starting at the two, Prigioni can run the point with Kidd, Smith at the three, Novak and STAT in the middle. This could hurt the Knicks on D, but seriously, Camby and Wallace are weeks away, and they have no choice.
Their attitude is what needs the biggest adjustment, and I’m going to say this until they start another winning streak, THEY HAVE NOT ACCOMPLISHED ANYTHING. The sooner they recognize that and become more focused on just playing the game the better. Playing the game means not complaining to officials, stop taking quarters off, start moving the ball and stop switching so easily. The way they are playing right now, they actually look like the fourth best team in the East, simply because the Bulls manhandled them so easily without Derrick Rose. The time for soul searching is now and every man must step up beginning today. The Knicks hold just a one game lead over the Nets. There’s 30 games left in the season. Wake Up Knicks!