Taylor Armosino is a Business major at the University of Arizona. He loves the Knicks, Raiders and A's, but mostly the Knicks. He also writes at KnicksNow.com, Saving the Skyhook, and Charged.fm. Email him firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @tarmosino
I’m all that encouraged by the Knicks performance today. Apart from the second quarter, the Knicks were not a good basketball team today. They couldn’t shoot a lick, something we’ve seen over the past 11 games now, and they couldn’t respond at all when Miami turned up the intensity after halftime. The second quarter was a ton of fun, but the other three quarters were tough to watch. There were some positives though. For the fourth time in 5th games, Carmelo Anthony attempted double digit free throws. Jason Kidd had maybe his best game of the season, possibly breaking out of a prolonged slump of terrible three point shooting. Sans the end of the first quarter, I thought Stoudemire was solid and the Knicks did well to get him some open dunks at the rim.
What does this loss mean? Not all that much. It confirmed what we all kind of thought. The first two Knicks-Heat games were not that indicative of how these two teams match up. Though the Knicks are built to beat Miami, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who thinks they actually can in the playoffs. This was a bad loss for New York. Leading by 14 at halftime, the Knicks had plenty of opportunities to close out the game, but instead lost the second half by 20 points.
Though their first 55 games played, the Knicks have attempted more threes per game than any team in basketball. They’re quite good at it as well, checking in with the league’s 5th best three point percentage at 37.1% per the NBA.com stats database. While old traditionalists of the game shoot down the offensive philosophy of hoisting up three after three after three as a gimmick, the Knicks have embraced it and have been successful doing so, running the league’s third most efficient offense.
Coming into this season, and the last two before that, the goal has been simple for the Knicks: Beat the Heat. Since Miami’s ‘Big Three’ came together in the summer of 2010, the Heat have had a target on their back. The entire Eastern Conference has been unsuccessful in hitting that target, as Miami has made it to the finals in both years that the James/Wade/Bosh trio has been together. Only the 2010 Dallas Mavericks have been successful in defeating Miami in a playoff series. New York had an opportunity last season, but were beaten soundly in five games.
The construct of this Knick team parallels much of that 2010 Dallas squad. They’ve got Tyson Chandler anchoring the middle of the defense, an unstoppable offensive force at power forward and they shoot a ton of threes. Currently the Knicks look far from a championship caliber team, having gone 17-15 after starting 18-5, but there are similarities between them and that Dallas team.
In the first two Knicks-Heat match-ups, New York was able to defeat Miami behind incredibly hot three point shooting. They hit 52% (19-36) of their threes in the first matchup and and 40.9% (18-44) in the second. Shooting a ton of threes, and more importantly making a ton of threes seems to be the forumla behind offensive success against the Heat. Granted, this could be said about playing offense against any defense on any given night. However, Miami isn’t just any other defense. When locked in, the Heat are one of the most disruptive defenses in the league. Having ridiculous speed and athleticism along the perimeter allows Miami to attack opposing ball handlers. In the pick and roll, the Heat love to put a hard trap on the ball handler, trusting that their rotations will do what they need to do on the back end. By simple arithmetic, trapping the ball handler with two defenders means that an offensive perimeter player is going to be unguarded. Miami’s perimeter defenders are incredibly athletic and they rotate to the open offensive players much faster than most, if not all other defenses in basketball. The offense must be decisive and quick in swinging the ball along the perimeter, much like the Knicks were in games one and two earlier this year.
Take this play for example:
Miami traps the Knicks not once, but twice. They trap Felton in the pick and roll before then trapping Chandler. Chandler does a good job of kicking the ball back out to Felton who then swings it to Kidd. Here is where we see where the Knicks can hurt Miami. Because the ball was decisively and quickly kicked back out from Chandler and swung around the perimeter, Miami cannot completely recover on defense.
LeBron is put in a position to have to make a decision. Either he closes out hard on Kidd, forcing him to continue swinging the ball, or runs to Brewer giving Kidd the shot. LeBron hesitates, not really doing either, allowing Kidd to take and hit the three.
Here’s another play where the Knicks beat a trap by hitting a three. Using Carmelo Anthony as a roll man (!), the Knicks are able to free up Steve Novak in the corner. When Felton gets trapped, Anthony rolls towards the hoop. This brings Novak’s defender, Dwyane Wade, down to pick up Anthony. Felton gets enough space to swing the ball to Novak in the corner and he hits the three.
About halfway through the second game, Miami started switching on their pick and roll defense.
As a result of all the switching, Felton had a career game. I would be highly surprised to see the Heat employ this strategy today.
A lot has changed since the Knicks beat Miami 112-92 on December 12th. The Knicks have cooled off drastically while Miami has won 13 games in a row. What hasn’t changed is that New York’s ticket to victory against the Heat is to shoot, and make, the three ball. Hard trapping and rabid attacking defense by the Heat opens up opportunities on the perimeter for the offense to hit threes. Over the last 10 games, the Knicks have actually been quite cold shooting the ball, hitting just 31% of their 3 point attempts. Today, and in any future meetings, they’ll have to re-find that early season shooting form if they want to beat the Heat.
Pablo Prigioni has back spams and may potentially miss tonight’s game against the Warriors. Were that to be the case, Mike Woodson said he would move Jason Kidd to the bench, allowing him to be used as the backup point guard. This leaves a void in the starting lineup alongside Felton, Shumpert, Anthony and Chandler. Woodson has to make the decision whether he’s going to fill that open spot with JR Smith, Amar’e Stoudemire or somebody else. My advice: go with Smith. More
It was an uninspiring win, but a win nonetheless. Up 12 at halftime, the Knicks, losers of four straight, were able to hold on at the end for a 99-93 win over the Sixers, who have now lost five straight games. The Knicks dominated the second quarter, but the two teams played evenly for the other three quarters. In the fourth, Jrue Holiday sunk a trio of three pointers to head a Philadelphia comeback. However, the Knicks were able to hold on, thanks to some big plays by JR Smith of all people. Smith buried three three pointers of his own in the final period, and grabbed a huge offensive rebound in the final minute that basically saved the game.
Side note: Raymond Felton hurt his foot during the game. In postgame interviews, he said he hurt his achilles, but should be fine.
The Knicks are in a really bad place right now. I’m not over-exaggerating to a bad loss, or even a few bad losses. After starting off the season an astounding 18-5, the Knicks are now 14-15 in their last 29 games. They’ve lost 4 straight games and the upcoming late season schedule is brutal. November seems like eons ago.
Coming off Wednesday’s abomination in Indiana, the Knicks had a rough night tonight in Toronto. I actually thought the energy was pretty good tonight, but the execution was not. Defensively, we saw the same deficiencies we have seen all year. For the most part, I thought the Knicks gave a strong effort on defense. However, the constant switching and un-necessary double teaming left them out to try on too many occasions tonight. Give Toronto credit, they did some nice things on offense and took advantage of the Knicks putting themselves at a disadvantage. No one play was more evident of this than Kyle Lowry’s game winning bucket with 28 seconds left. Toronto ran high pick and roll, the Knicks switched and Lowry hit a really tough shot over Chandler. That one play symbolized this game in a microcosm. You pulled your hair out when the Knicks switched, thought they might be okay when Chandler had good position on Lowry and cursed when Lowry hit the shot anyways.
Leading up to the 3 pm trade deadline on Thursday, all the Knicks trade deadline talk was about whether or not Iman Shumpert would be sent elsewhere. He wasn’t. The Knicks decided to hold onto Shumpert, but did however make a trade. Forgotten small forward Ronnie Brewer was sent off to Oklahoma City for a 2014 second round draft selection. With Brewer’s sending off vacating a roster spot, the Knicks have signed Kenyon Martin to a 10 day contract according to Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports.
Let’s start with Brewer. I thought Brewer would be one of the steals of the free agent class, mostly due to his reputation as an elite perimeter defender. I thought he’d be okay offensively, assuming the Knicks would have a slow isolation-heavy offense. More
A new feature here at the Meloship, I introduce you to Ex-Knicks of the Week. Originally pitched to me by Matt Weiss (below), Ex-Knicks of the week will be a weekly feature on the site every Monday morning. We will pick either players that are in the NBA who have had great weeks, or we’ll just pick random ex-Knicks and write about them.
Matt Weiss (@thanksroy): Seeing as this whole ex-Knick of the week thing was my brain child, I thought I should set some ground rules. To be an ex-knick one must have suited up for the orange and blue, so traded picks (dammit we traded the picks that became Lamarcus Aldridge and Joakim Noah), guys who re-routed through NY (Corey Brewer) and or picks who never played for us (with the exception of Freddy Weis because fuck him) dont count. Why is that? Because this was my idea and I get to set the rules.
When Carmelo Anthony entered our world on February 22nd 2011, he brought some friends with him. Some of those friends we knew (hello Renaldo!) some of them we soon wanted to forget (Shelden Williams) and one of them came with a big reputation. Melo was certainly the centerpiece of the deal, but at the time I was really excited about getting Chauncey Billups, aka Mr. Big Shot as a part of the deal. Just for the record I despise that nickname, but I used it anyway. Sure, sending Raymond away was tough as he had been a very productive Knick for the half season he was with us, but Chauncey came with a big reputation and a history of productivity and leadership. Amare was having an MVP caliber season, we were adding Melo, and with a floor general like Chauncey there was a genuine excitement this group could do some damage in the playoffs. The Knicks split their first two games post trade and then landed in Miami for a showdown with the heat. When a cobbled together starting lineup of Melo, Amare, Chauncey, Shawne Williams and Landry Fields came out with a thrilling victory the bar for that season was raised. “No one wants to face us in the first round” went my thinking and as usual we fans overreacted. What happens next is classic Knicks, Chauncey got banged up and missed some time and the team went 14-14 post trade. In their last 15 games the Knicks had both a 6 game losing streak and then a 7 game winning streak.
The team entered the playoffs as the 6 seed and faced the division champion Boston Celtics, who themselves were having issues as the playoffs began. After racing out to a record of 46-15 the Celtics ended the season 10-11. I was lucky enough to be in Boston for work that week and scalped my way into the TD Center and unabashedly rocked a melo jersey for game 1. I will save you the horror of the recap but the Knicks established an early lead before the Celtics did their usual Celtic thing and ripped our heart out. The difference was that we now had Chauncey. Even after the Celtics erased a 12 point half time lead Chauncey was cool, calm, collected (shout out Clyde) and made me feel good about the game when he had the ball. The funny thing is that he didn’t even play well in this game, and he still made me feel good about having him run the offense. And then Chauncey got hurt, and then KG set a horrendous moving screen that wasn’t called, and then Ray Allen hit a three that caused me to slink out of the arena. Amare hurt his back dunking in warm ups before game two, and by the end of that game, on the most critical offensive possession of the season the Knicks trotted out Jared Jeffries, Bill Walker, Toney Douglas and Roger Mason alongside Melo. Our season was over and we all knew it. More
Saturday night in Houston, Steve Novak and James White participated in the Three-Point Shootout and the Dunk Contest. I had high hopes for both participants. Though I picked Matt Bonner to win the Three-Point Shootout, (Kyrie Irving won) I thought Novak would be in the finals. I thought James White, given that his basketball existence seemed to exist only for him to be crowned champion of one such contest, would win the Dunk Contest with a handful of unbelievable dunks. Neither happened on a somewhat disappointing Saturday night. More
A new feature here at the Meloship, I introduce you to Ex-Knicks of the Week. Originally pitched to me by Matt Weiss (@thanksroy on twtter), Ex-Knicks of the week will be a weekly feature on the site every Monday morning. We will pick either players that are in the NBA who have had great weeks, or we’ll just pick random ex-Knicks and write about them.
Taylor Armosino (@tarmosino): My ex-Knick of the week is Eddy Curry. No, poor Eddy doesn’t play in the NBA any longer, but rather he has taken his talents to the Zhejiang Golden Bulls of the Chinese league. In the team’s past three games, Curry has been quite dominant. In a win over the TianJin Steel, Curry put in 19 points on 8/11 shooting and grabbed 12 boards (11 more than he ever grabbed with the Knicks). In a loss to Shandong, Curry scored 20 points on 7/11 shooting. In his third game of the week, Curry led Zhejiang to a 114-113 over Tracy McGrady’s Qingdao Eagles. The center, who I imagine is 4 times bigger than any of the poor Chinese big men trying to guard him, scored 30 points on 11/18 shooting and grabbed 6 rebounds. All in all, Curry had a productive week scoring 23 points per game, grabbing 7.6 boards a game and shooting 65%. Good for Eddy. While he proved to be a big fat waste of money, I always thought he was a good guy. I hate that he’s not in the NBA anymore, mainly because I can’t play as him in 2k anymore. He is a monster in that game, despite his annually horrible ratings. It’s good to see Curry is dominating for Zhejiang. And for your weekly Eddy Curry youtube video of the week: More
Sans Carmelo Anthony and his 42 point performance, the Knicks were utterly hapless on both ends of the court this afternoon at Madison Square Garden. The Clippers shot 52% as New York was a complete mess defensively. Amar’e Stoudemire was pitiful on both ends of the floor and the rest of the Knicks followed suit. After a strong 3rd quarter, the Knicks were dominated in the 4th. Mike Woodson coached a poor game in terms of both scheme, personel and lineups. Though the game was close in score down the stretch, it never felt like the Knicks had a chance to win. They couldn’t get any stops down the stretch with Amar’e in the game instead of Tyson, Shumpert sitting on the bench and Felton guarding Chris Paul. All in all, today was a disastrous game as the Knicks continue their prolonged mid-season stretch of mediocrity. Here are my notes from the game: