I have no issues with JR winning this award as I would’ve voted for him if I had a ballot. My mock ballot looked like this:
1. JR Smith
2. Ryan Anderson
3. Matt Barnes
4. Jarrett Jack
5. Jamal Crawford.
Winning 6MOY has become an award about wing scorers, and JR certainly would fit into that category, but that isn’t why I think he’s deserving of winning. If you looked at the majority of this season, he was largely inefficient shooting the ball (remember the ridiculous JR for all-star campaign?). Over the last month and a half, he’s been fantastic, but the season isn’t comprised of just it’s last month and a half. If this was an award about efficient scoring, Ryan Anderson is my runaway winner. But it’s not. More
Instead of doing normal recaps of the games, I’m going to do something different. Due to the length in-between games, I’m going to have ample time to review each game and I’ll write about things I did/didn’t like about each game.
The Knicks took out Boston 85-78 in game 1 at Madison Square Garden. It was a defensive grinder and in the end the Knicks ball security and offensive rebounding were the difference. New York finished a +6 in offensive rebounds (scoring 12 second chance points) and won the turnover battle 20 to 13. In what finished as a 7 point game, those 13 extra possessions ended up playing a huge role in the Knicks victory.
Let’s start with the Knicks defense, which was subpar in the first half. For whatever reason, they were super lazy with their rotations, allowing Boston to shoot a bunch of open corner threes. The Celtics were unable to capitalize because they can’t shoot, but the Knicks still have to clean this up.
Avery Bradley, running point for Boston by default, was a thorn in the side of both the Knicks and the Celtics. I’ll explain. Exposing a bad habit that’s been a problem all year for New York, Bradley took advantage of ball watching, bad double teams, and lazy/non-existent help defense to score on a series of cuts in the first half.
If you notice Carmelo Anthony on those plays, his help defense was pretty pitiful. Though Bradley shouldn’t have those kind of open looks to the lane, a simple close off rotation from Anthony into the lane would have negated some of those baskets. His effort was much better in the second half, as was the team’s. Bradley’s cuts weren’t an issue for New York after halftime. Regardless, look for Boston to try and manufacture some baskets throughout the series with cutters. I would. More
It feels right that the Knicks will have to go through the Celtics on the road back to NBA prominence. Though the Knicks won 54 games, this season means absolutely nothing if they flame out in the first round of the playoffs. The Celtics may not be the the same dominant force we’ve seen been in recent memory, but they are certainly not a team to take likely. We’ve seen unlikely playoff runs before from Doc Rivers’ group in the past, and with the third ranked defensive in basketball another deep run is certainly possible. With all the chaos and tragedy that struck the state of Massachusetts over the last week, you know the Celtics are going to come out fired up and ready to play. All that being said, the Knicks are the much better team and should win this series handily.
Mike Woodson has been a very pleasant surprise this season – re-inventing his previously ball-sticky isolation oriented offense into a spread pick and roll attack that finished third in the NBA in offensive efficiency thus inserting himself into the conversation for coach of the year. Carmelo Anthony had the best season of his career after a wildly disappointing 2011 campaign. JR Smith is going to win Sixth Man of the Year, having transformed himself from an inconsistent long range gunner to an efficient multi-faceted scorer over the last two months of the season. This was the best Knicks season I’ve seen in my basketball watching lifetime, and it’s not close. It’s time for them to take the next step. More
Rejoice!! Not only are the Knicks headed to the playoffs but they wrapped up the Atlantic Division and the 2 seed in the East!! If you had told me in September that the season would play out this way, I would have assumed you were the devil and were interested in attaining my soul. Undoubtedly, the Knicks had a season to celebrate. And on top of that celebration, we also had the NBA’s scoring champion (congrats Melo!) and the potential (probable?) 6th Man of the Year.
Allow me to take a trip back to the previously alluded to past September before the 2012-13 NBA season started, back in the days when many believed the Lakers to be a potential 70 win team and the Andrew Bynum acquisition was a steal for the 76ers, Jonathan Abrams wrote a piece (link to JR Grantland article) about that potential 6th Man of the Year, one Earl Smith III, a.k.a. J.R. Smith, for Grantland. In this article, Abramsʼ general thesis questions J.R.ʼs erratic nature and whether or not it is a function of him being misguided or is it simply a case of J.R. being misunderstood by fans, coaches, teammates, and anyone else even remotely associated with the NBA. While Abrams did a phenomenal job, what he did not stress enough is what J.R. Smith truly has been over the course of his 9 seasons: frustrating. Frustrating to his teammates. Frustrating for his coaches (see Karl, George). But mostly, he has been frustrating to the fans of the teams that have employed him through the years. But that changed this season…potentially? More
Dan and I recorded the inaugural Meloship of the Ring podcast. We set out with the goal of talking basketball, which we did relatively well. We discussed the Knicks new signings, as well as the upcoming Knicks-Celtics playoff series.
*Note* We know Dan’s sound was a bit quiet and muffled. It won’t be next time.
Tonight, join us on Spreecast as James talks Knicks with the great Art Rondeau. Here is the link to that:
EARL BARRON IS BACK. Following Rasheed Wallace’s retirement from earlier today (he’ll find a rec league), Earl Barron is back with the Knicks after a three year period of being in exile from New York. Yes, the same guy that Knick fans thought was going to be the team’s starting center during the 2010-11 season. Barron will be eligible for the upcoming playoffs this Saturday against the Celtics. What a weird turn of events the last couple of days; first, King Solomon Jones was waived a couple of days ago, resulting in the signing Quentin Richardson to fill in that roster spot yesterday, then today with Earl Barron filling in Sheed’s vacant spot. Some things about Earl:
No, Ronny Turiaf isn’t replacing him.
Who knows what we’ll get in him? Knick fans said the same with Kenyon Martin, but hopefully Barron can do something like this in limited significant minutes. That was Barron’s breakout game, in which everyone thought he was going to become a superstar, because, you know, he was essentially the only hope.
All-NBA Team discussions are always fun this time of year so I thought I’d chip in and put mine up here with a little bit of justification for each. Let me know if you agree/disagree with my selections.
G – Chris Paul
G – Russell Westbrook
F – LeBron James
F – Kevin Durant
C – Marc Gasol
The two spots for debate here are Westbrook’s guard spot and the center spot. More
Earlier today, basically out of the blue, the Knicks signed Quentin Richardson, closing the open roster spot they had from cutting King Solomon Jones. Richardson played with the Knicks from 2005-2009, and holds career averages of 10.3 points per game, 4.7 rebounds per game, and is a 35% three point shooter. This move isn’t that significant, or at least lets hope it isn’t that significant. Also, Richardson is playoff-eligible. Some brief thoughts:
Once a Knick Always a Knicks! It looks like the Knicks are becoming very committed to this slogan. However, I was kinda hoping that players from Knicks teams we try so, so hard to forget would be, um, forgotten from this new campaign. If the Knicks bring back Jerome James, look for them to have a 10 year anniversary night for the 2005-2006 Knicks, where every fan in attendance gets a replica NBA Draft Lottery ping-pong ball.
For those of you that weren’t following the Knicks during those terrible years (and god bless you, really) or have drank enough alcohol to forget them, you may not know that Q-Rich is not a big fan of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett. That being said, I’d very much like for those guys not be extra-angry when playing the Knicks.
Hopefully Richardson doesn’t have to play unless the Knicks are up by 25 and Woodson clears the bench. If he gets burn in a situation other than that, I guess he can’t really be worse than James White. So there’s that.
Headbands! Melo and K-Mart are already avid wearers of headbands, and I can’t remember Richardson playing for the Knicks without one. I suggest a rule change for the playoffs where the team with the most headbands wins.
And that’s it! The Knicks close out the regular season against the Hawks tomorrow, and then get ready to play the Celtics on Saturday, time still to be determined.
15th win in the last 16 games, locked up the 2-seed in the East…fun times to be a Knicks fan, everyone. (Furiously knocks on all of the wood.) Indeed, the Knicks defeated the Pacers today in a relatively ugly, slow, Pacers-y game. Shorthanded in the frontcourt with Tyson Chandler and Kenyon Martin (and every other tall guy on the Knicks) suffering from death many different nagging injuries, the Knicks were beat up on the glass 45-32 (and 13-8 in offensive rebounds). However, even with this disparity, the Knicks took 17 (!) more shots than the Pacers, as the Pacers decided to start throwing the ball everywhere but to their own team, even hitting poor Mike Woodson with one en route to 26 turnovers. Carmelo Anthony poured in 25 points while sitting out the 4th with a shoulder contusion (nothing serious according to him, he is still alive), JR Smith added 15 off the bench, and Chris Copeland scored 20 himself as he made up for his poor rebounding with stellar shooting (8-12 from the field). Some notes:
King Solomon Jones got the start at center, and played pretty poorly but it really doesn’t matter. He over played some hedges defending the pick-and-roll, was constantly getting thrown to the ground by Roy Hibbert, and took a 7 foot jumper off the pick-and-roll that went about 5 and a half feet. Cool name, though.
Steve Novak missed a layup off the pick-and-roll and had he made it I would probably be dead.
Melo started off hot, scoring the first 9 points for the Knicks, but cooled off mightily after that. He started getting frustrated with the officials after the physical play escalated and was guarding Hibbert and West down low and taking a beating. After getting fouled hard by David West on the shoulder and favoring it for a couple of minutes, Melo threw down an alley-oop from Kidd and then hit a catch-and-shoot three pointer and we all breathed a sigh of relief.
The Knicks benefited from Paul George being severly off his game (3-12 from the field) and basically everyone on the Pacers either not being able to throw or catch the ball. I don’t think I’ve seen that many passes flying to no one in particular in a while.
Jason Kidd, a game leading +17, missed a spot up three pointer by about 35 feet, then on the same possession took a runner from the corner as the shot clock expired and missed the rim by slightly less. Then he airballed his next three-point attempt long. Whatever. Kidd came up with 4 steals today, ripping the ball from poor Lance Stephenson as he attempted to drive on Kidd, then stealing a couple of over-the-top entry passes by playing the basketball version of a free safety.
Playing the majority of the game at center, Copeland actually did a decent job fighting with Hibbert for position down low. This, coupled with Hibbert’s relatively bad post up game and the Pacers refusing to throw him the ball when he was in *great* position right under the basket, led to Hibbert having 4 points on 2-5 shooting.
That’s basically it. I mean, this was a pretty sloppy game from about midway through the first quarter on. Looking forward, the Knicks now have their highest seed since 1994, will play the Celtics in the first round, and can/will rest their starters for the final two games o the regular season. The issue with the last thing is that the Knicks currently have 10 healthy players, and 8 of them are currently rotation players. If it were up to me, the Knicks would play Solomon Jones and James White, and throw in Jim Todd and Herb Williams occasionally. Alas, NBA rules require you to play 5 players at a time, so I guess they can’t do that. Anyway, the Knicks clinched the two-seed. I’m going to run around like a maniac for a while. This picture describes my emotions right now: