For the Knicks, tonight’s agenda was simple: win the game and proceed into All-Star weekend on a high note with a more than comfortable lead in the Atlantic Division.
So much for that.
In Wednesday night’s loss to the Toronto Raptors, New York struggled through 48 lethargic minutes that consisted of 35 percent shooting and nine missed free throws.
Though the effort and defense were present for much of the game,–the Knicks outrebounded the Raptors by 17 and nearly held them below 90 points– it simply wasn’t enough, as New York’s high intensity was unable to overcome its putrid offense.
With the loss, the Knicks have now dropped three of four and continue to look less and less like the team that started the season on an incredible tear.
It’s time to face reality: this Knicks team–the same that is supposed to compete with LeBron James and the Miami Heat–is just 11-9 since the turn of the new calendar year.
Of those 11 wins, only one came against an elite team; the Knicks have lost to the Pacers, Bulls, Nets, and Clippers since defeating the Spurs on January 3.
It’s just not the same team. During the poor stretch of play, the Knicks’ defense has often failed them, while their offense has reverted from constant, crisp ball movement back to iso-ball.
Right, now it isn’t working. And, no, a trade isn’t going to solve anything, but this team–from the head coach to his players–needs to be questioned.
With that being said, let’s focus primarily on the head coach himself, Mike Woodson.
Now, I’m as big of a Woodson fan as anyone, but his handling of Amar’e Stoudemire has been completely nonsensical.
Constantly–and it happened again tonight–does Amar’e find himself on the bench in the waning minutes of close games.
News flash, Woodson: At 61 percent shooting from the field, Stoudemire has been the best offensive player on this team since January 17, and it is completely necessary for him to be playing for the majority of the fourth quarter.
Forget J.R. Smith, who you often seem to have a love affair with, and put the best five players on the court: Carmelo, Tyson, Stoudemire, Felton, and Shumpert.
It isn’t rocket science; there is no reason for J.R. to be in the game late in the fourth, especially when he’s having one of those 4 for 15 shooting nights, or as most people like to call them, J.R. Smith shooting nights.
And this isn’t the only issue that Woodson needs to correct.
What exactly is the Knicks’ offense as of late? Give the ball to Melo or another player and get out of the way? Yeah, that’s what we call iso-ball, and it doesn’t work.
Far too often is either Carmelo or J.R. or Felton or someone else playing 1-on-1 with the opposition, disregarding any attempt at moving the ball, and it’s pathetic in comparison to the team basketball that has been present during the Knicks’ best success this season.
And when New York gets down? Forget it–it’s like Mike D’antoni days all over again with the amount of threes the Knicks hoist when they are behind.
Sure, this type of play–from iso-ball to an exorbitant amount of three point attempts–might work when the Knicks are playing Minnesota, Detroit, and Sacramento, but it will get them run out of the gym against the upper-echelon teams. Forget it.
Woodson has a full week until his squad plays again, and he’ll need it, because when the NBA regular season resumes, we had better see an improved Knicks team.
If we don’t, it could very well point to yet another early exit in the postseason.
About the Author
Written by Michael Burke
I'm Mike. I'm 16 and love sports. I'm a Knicks, Yankees, Colts and Notre Dame die-hard. My dream is to cover the Knicks professionally, so I hope that PSB can help me reach that goal. Follow me on twitter: @michaelburke47