Wednesday, April 20, 2011
The Knicks aren't very good (yet), but Boston isn't much better
Watching the first two games of the Boston vs. NY series has made me realize a few things...
Number 1: The Knicks are NOT playing smart, disciplined basketball when it really matters.
Game 1, Melo takes a three ball at the end of the game rather than trying to drive and drawing contact. Game 2, Jared Jeffries doofs a pass at the end of the game when he could have simply tried to actually shoot the ball. Not to mention with 4+ seconds left the Knicks let the Celtics inbound the ball and run the clock out (completely inexcusable at that point in the game).
Number 2: Mike D'Antoni teams play defense by happenstance.
Call it playing defense "when you want to" or playing defense by happenstance, either way the Knicks and D'Antoni's Suns teams were and are notorious for scoring and not playing much defense. How many times do commentators and other coaches have to say "defense wins championships" before we all realize that for the most part, it's completely true?! Melo and Stoudemire, the two stars on this team (well, one SUPERstar and one star), play defense when they want. Stoudemire's much more of a defensive force when he puts his mind to it. Melo well we all know he's there primarily to put the ball in the bucket. But imagine if he wanted to play defense at the level of a Kobe, Dwight (both are great individual defenders), and maybe even Dwayne Wade, or LeBron (two great team defenders).
Number 3: The Knicks have no real veteran leadership.
Boston's veteran leadership and will to win has shown at the end of each of these first two games. They should be down 0-2 right now having dropped two games on their home floor. If the Knicks had a couple veteran guys who are committed to keeping everyone on the same page in tough situations and executing well, I think they would have won the first two games. Melo cannot win by himself. I repeat, it's GREAT to watch and he's a beast on the offensive end but MELO CANNOT WIN BY HIMSELF! That was proven in Denver and it was proven again last night. He needs help from not only Amare but some veteran guys who aren't afraid to step up, speak up, and make sure everyone is giving their all in each phase of the game when it really counts. Maybe Chauncey can play this role or does play this role somewhat, but I feel like there's still someone missing (P.J. Brown, anyone?).
Number 4: The Celtics are not looking too good.
Maybe this series is gonna be their wake-up call but after watching them almost blow two games to a Knicks team that they shouldn't be having this much trouble with, I'm not so convinced that the Celtics are going to be as tough of an "out" this year for Miami or Chicago as I initially thought. Maybe they are underestimating the Knicks a bit or maybe they're just lethargic right now and will really get-up for the next round (if they make it). Either way, the Celtics are looking a little old to me and I'm not sure they'll be able to get it together, even with Shaq in the line-up. Especially when you consider the Knicks almost won last night without Chauncey and with Amare out for the majority of the game. If the Knicks actually were a team that executed well for a full 48 minutes, they would have won.
Number 5: Doc Rivers is a hell of a coach.
I think I knew this already, but I really came to appreciate just how good a coach he is after these last two games. Last night (as pointed out by the commentators) he fooled everyone by giving KG the chance to make the go-ahead bucket. I would have bet money that Pierce was gonna get that shot. This isn't the sole reason I think he's a good coach obviously, but it's an example of where I think his coaching ability stands-out (or either he just got lucky, ha). Doc just seems to know his team very well as far as strengths and weaknesses go and he also has the complete respect and command of his team. I don't see that from the Knicks (and a lot of other teams... Hey Spoelstra!) in the same way I see it from the Celtics. Those guys in green believe they always have a chance to win and they trust their coach to get them there. The Knicks seem to believe they have a chance to win if Melo & Amare can get it done moreso than they believe in their coach and what he's asking them to do.