Pacers and Knicks Battle
Since Sunday I have been thinking about this Knicks team and their future in the NBA playoffs. Many Knicks fans are adamant that the Knicks will win this series and challenge the Miami Heat for the ECF title with the right to represent the East in the NBA Finals.
However, there are many fans like myself that are realistic. I understand basketball and what it takes to win. I don’t write out of emotion or anger, but what I do is look at what is going on with this Knicks team so far this playoff and try to figure out what needs to be fixed.
Batman and Robin
Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith are the 1, 2 punch for this team. In other words, these two players are the 1st and 2nd option on a perimeter built offense. They are the centerpieces, especially Melo, who is one of the best players in the league.
J.R. Smith on the other hand is a 2nd option at best right now in his career. Before this year he was viewed as a 3rd option, nothing more, but the last month of the season J.R. became so consistent with his game that he was anointed the 2nd option and we all ran with it, including me.
Now J.R. has come back to reality and his game has come with it. He is now consistently inconsistent, which is a huge problem for this team right now and in the future (if there is one with J.R. in it). He drives to the hole and takes off balanced shots, trying to draw fouls. Most of the time this is a good idea, but the last few games he is not getting the calls and is now forcing his offense on the opponent and the opponent is winning the matchup.
Melo is in the same boat as J.R. Smith. He, as well, is driving the ball to the hole, but not getting the proper calls, forcing the issue. When he doesn’t get the right call he complains to the refs. This will not help his situation at any point in this series. Melo needs to make quick decisions, use himself as a decoy and move the ball around to the open man. Melo in the post with the ball in his hand is the right place to start. Inside-Out has always been smart basketball in the playoffs.
The referees were a big factor in the last game. That is a simple fact. The Knicks had the right idea; get Hibbert in foul trouble by attacking the basket, however this strategy was not working during the game. The Knicks were forcing the issue, resulting in NO calls and lost possessions in return. You must adjust to the way the refs are calling the game. I believe tonight those same plays we saw in game one (driving to the basket) will be run again and this time they will get the calls.
The coaching staff needs to make the proper adjustments in tonight’s game and in the series. I am not asking for the team to “go big “ or change their game completely after one terrible game, but they need to certainly adjust their game plan to matchup better against this big Pacers lineup. I thought Cope and Camby should have gotten some serious burn to matchup and spread the floor to neutralize Hibbert and West. Coach Mike Woodson has had some criticism in the past over his lack of adjustments. Lets hope he has learned from his mistakes and tweaks the rotation accordingly.
Bron Has Figured It Out, Can Melo?
I listened to a Mic’d up version of LeBron James last night during the game. I can’t be 100% sure, but I thought I heard Bron say to Ray Allen and Chris Bosh to “Shop the Ball” which means to look around and move the ball to find the better option. If what he said is true, it makes me think of how LeBron has figured out this game at this point in his career, and is now executing his thoughts for a full 48 minutes.
Melo has said before that ball movement is key, but he has not executed this thought for a full 48 minutes all year, including the playoffs. This gave me a sinking feeling, knowing that Bron is executing his thought process and Melo is just talking about it, executing with infrequent success.
I hope the “light bulb pops on over his head” at some point and Melo begins to dominate the game the way he should be. It is imperative that Melo does this in order for the Knicks to have ANY a chance to win. Let’s Get It!