Sunday, November 04, 2007

Knicks Win First Opener Since 2001

Isiah Thomas did hear a few boos during introductions but they seemed to be quickly drowned out by cheers. I was happy to hear this as I felt like the likes of Lupica and Lawrence were just dying for something delicious to write about tomorrow that would allow them to write another angry article about Thomas. The last two days you could feel some members of the media building this up almost encouraging fans to boo Isiah. Once the game started though, it still felt like another showing from last season as the Knicks dug themselves an early 10 point hole. And once again, the second unit came in and immediately wiped that out. The Knicks outscored Minnesota 37-20 while the trio of Robinson, Lee, and Balkman were in the game in the first half.

I was very happy with the point distribution as 6 Knicks scored in double figures. I noticed that the starting 5 did good enough down the stretch to close this game out, but it's hard to ignore what the second unit done in the first half. On a negative note, I still feel like this team could have defended better. They allowed the Wolves to shoot 53% from the 3-point line. I wanted to post a pic of Crawford as he was solid in the 4th quarter but I found this pic on Yahoo that just seems to demonstrate how bad the Knicks defense was sometimes. I am still not sure where all the Wolves players are in this pic and notice all the Knicks players seem to be guarding the rim and not the driving player. But I will take a win anyway I can get it. I look forward to Tuesday and the Denver game. We will face a much more explosive team and it will be very interesting to see how we fare against a tough Western Conference team.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Same Ole Same Ole

As I settled down to watch the game Friday night, I thought about the 7 months I had waited to watch this team again. One year older, a new all-star to add to the mix, and a healthy core all signaled good things to come this year. But the more I watched, the more I realized that this is the same team that left the court back in April. Sure we look great on offense but the missed free throws and terrible perimeter defense looked awfully familiar. I am sure Cleveland played with a little more focus as they wanted to wipe out their opening night disaster against Dallas a few nights before. But to miss free throws and leave Daniel Gibson open like that in the 4th quarter just suggests that this team hasn't learned much from last season.

I am willing to give them at least 15-20 games before I make a final judgement but last night just felt too familiar. Maybe we should look at it in a different perspective. Lebron was getting all the calls and was scoring in a variety of ways. This in turn made the Knicks have to collapse on him all night. They chose to leave Gibson most of the time on this defensive transition and Gibson had the hot hand. So instead of jumping to conclusions, I'm willing to let this slide and see how they do in the coming games. I think we all noticed Isiah benching Marbury in the 4th in favor of Robinson. I think this may be the biggest story here as this was the first game of the season. I don't think Isiah would have done this last year. Marbury seems to have a shorter leash now and Nate is proving he deserves more minutes. I will be watching this in the Minnesota game to see if Marbury responds and has a better game or if Nate continues to get the critical minutes.


Some random thoughts about the first few days of the NBA season so far.

Would anyone have believed that Indiana would be 3-0 and Chicago would be 0-3? Obviously, a new coach in Indiana and the young core of Dunleavy and Granger is giving fans in Indiana new hope. In Chicago, wonder if this whole Kobe ordeal has anything to do with this start? You think?

Also, in Washington, the Wizards are off to an 0-3 start. I will go ahead and make the prediction that Eddie Jordan will be the first coach fired this season.

I have been trying to catch different games on League Pass and have found some great teams to watch so far. It's hard to believe, but the West will be even tougher this year as Houston looks stronger and it seems Denver and Utah are both poised to take that next step this year. That leaves 6 very strong teams in the West(Spurs,Mavs,Rockets,Suns,Jazz,Nuggets) that could easily make a run to the Finals this year. In the East, I still only see Detroit, Boston, and Chicago as legitimate Finals contenders.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A New Season Brings New Hope

It's quite possible that no other team is looking forward to starting the new NBA season more then Isiah Thomas and the New York Knicks. The sexual harassment trial and the fallout from it has worn Isiah Thomas down to the point where he hardly smiles anymore and gives short vague answers in response to the media's questions. The team has had a year together under Isiah’s system but has had to readjust again this year due to the addition of Zach Randolph. Many question how the tandem of Eddy Curry and Randolph is going to work. Both are considered low post players who are explosive offensively but neither passes the ball well and both are very bad on the defensive side of the ball. It's up to Isiah to figure out how to get the most out of both of them. Several media members are predicting Isiah won't last the season and the Knicks will miss the playoffs once again. Only Sports Illustrated has the Knicks making the playoffs this year.

I thought I would look through the Knicks' schedule and give my prediction on how well they will fare and whether they are good enough for the playoffs. Last year the Knicks started off slow and eventually recovered to play slightly above .500 but then injuries decimated the team and caused them to fall well below .500. To get a better idea of how many games this team can win, we need to look at the games on a month-by-month basis.

If you look at November, the schedule looks favorable for the Knicks to get off to a good start. They play 8 games at home and 7 on the road. Looking at their opponents, I see them going 9-6 in the month of November. More specifically, I see them starting off 4-1, going 2-2 on their West coast trip, and then finishing up the month 3-3 against some good playoff caliber teams. The game of the month in my eyes will be the Nov. 29th game with Boston on national television. This would be a great statement game for the Knicks if they could come out and play well and beat the revamped Celtics.

In December, they play 9 games at home and only 5 on the road. They have some tough games at the beginning of the month and I see them coming out of those games with a 2-4 record. Their next 8 are mainly against teams in the East and I see them going 6-2 to finish the month at 8-6. The game to look at in this month will be the first game with New Jersey on the road on Dec. 5th. New Jersey has owned the Knicks since Jason Kidd has been in town and this would be a huge boost for the Knick players if they could go on the road early in the season and beat the Nets.

In January, the schedule gets a little tougher. The Knicks have 7 games at home and 9 on the road. This will be the month that makes or breaks this team in my opinion. With a tough Midwest road trip and some tough games at home, I see them starting out the month at 3-4. After that, I feel like this is where the team will hit their stride and will begin to gel as a team. They will finish up the month going 6-3 and a record of 9-7 for January. The Knicks will play 6 games in 9 days from Jan. 13-21. They will play Boston on Jan. 21st to wrap up that string of games. Again, if they can find a way to win this game, it would be a great building block for the second half of the season.

In February, they play 5 games at home and 8 on the road. I do see them struggling a little bit this month with the tough January and rust from the All-Star break. I think they will finish 6-7 for the month of February with back-to-back games with Toronto on the 22nd and 24th being the big games of the month. In March, the schedule has them playing 8 games at home and 7 on the road. I see them going 7-8 during this month as things starting getting a little tighter and teams in the East will be playing tougher. On March 7th, the Knicks will host Detroit in what could be a good test for the Knicks to see where they stand with one of the top teams in the East.

In the month of April, with 4 games at home and 5 on the road, the Knicks should be able to finish the month with a 5-4 record as they try to hold on to a playoff spot. I hate to keep bringing Boston up, but the next to last game of the season with them on April 14th could be huge. A win in that game could set the tone going into the playoffs and give the Knicks that extra push to make some noise.

If you add up the records for each month, you will see that the Knicks would finish at 44-38 for the season. This is about what I expected from this team before looking at the schedule on a monthly basis like this. With a 44-38 record, that should be good enough for a 7 seed in the playoffs. If the Knicks can do this and grab a spot in the playoffs, maybe then Isiah can smile again and get some of his critics off his back...for a little while anyway.

Friday, February 16, 2007

A Perfect-Lee Played Game

I imagine many Knick fans like myself watched the Rookie-Sophomore game like a proud father watching his son. David Lee showed NBA fans why the Knicks finally have a future. Lee was perfect from the field going 14-14 and was named MVP of the game. Obviously, the game didn't have much defense and the actual results don't really mean much, but it was nice to see Lee get some exposure and show how good of a player he is. Unfortunately for Isiah, he may feel even more pressure to start Lee after the All-Star break. I personally think Lee does better off the bench and he is always in the lineup at the end of the games anyway. This performance almost feels like a coming out party for Lee. Imagine if he could improve his jump shot and defense. Something to look forward to, thats for sure.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Jerome James: Auditioning or Something Else?

Tonight's game against the Lakers marked the 4th straight start for Jerome James. In those 4 games, his minutes dwindled down in each start going from 15 to 7 to 4 and now 1 mesmerizing minute against the Lakers. In the first game against Orlando, he actually helped the team to a win. But since that game, it has been difficult to understand why Isiah has him in the starting lineup. The easy route to take on this is that he is simply auditioning James to other teams. There are always teams out there looking for big men and in today's game, $5 million a year is not a bad price to pay for a big body. If the Knicks can unload James for an outside shooter, backup pg, or a defensive three, then they would be in a better position to make a push for the playoffs.

The other theory I have is maybe the auditioning is part of it, but the bigger part is Isiah has decided to put someone like James in the starting lineup to take the pressure off of Frye and Jeffries. Both of these players only seem to degress when they are in the starting lineup. They also cause problems for the team on offense and defense. Frye for his lack of post defense and Jeffries for his lack of offense from any range. With Isiah usually going with a different lineup to start the second half, this seems to be the most logical explanation. I think most people agree that the start of the 3rd quarter just feels different psychologically compared to the beginning of a game. Obviously, most people have been yelling for Lee to start, but I think Isiah has proven that he plans to keep Lee as his sixth man. It doesn't really matter anyway as Lee usually ends up being on the floor at the end of the game. I really think Isiah will keep this lineup until he sees Frye or Jeffries take a step forward and become a vital part of the lineup. Let's just hope that happens soon..real soon.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Kardiak Knicks

First I apologize guys, I have been away some time. I haven't had much time these days to write. I had been thinking about writing a few times but never got around to it. But after another amazing game by the Knicks, I couldn't hold back any longer. Its probably too soon to get into what this triple overtime win over the East leading Pistons could mean for the Knicks, but it's an hour later while I write this and I still can't believe the Knicks pulled this win out. I know there are alot of Knick haters and Isiah haters out there and they don't want to hear me gush about how good the Knicks have looked lately. Whether you are a hater or just a pessimistic Knick fan, everyone should agree that this team is at least exciting to watch. Just that alone should give Knick fans hope as we haven't had a team to get behind really since they made that magical run in the playoffs in 1999. There are so many good things to like about this victory that I'm not sure where to begin.

In my 20 years as a Knick fan, I honestly can't remember feeling this way about a Knick team. Sure the teams of the 90's were great and will always be the teams that I became a die hard Knick fan with. But with those teams, after Pat Riley arrived, there was a certain expectation of the team for many years. While there was some great moments during that time, because they never won the championship, fans came away stilll a little disappointed. Knick fans have gone through a tough period these last 5 years as the team has slowly and painfully become the laughing stock of the league. There was momentary excitement when Isiah came aboard and traded for Stephon Marbury right away. That team rebounded after the trade to make the playoffs but never really stood a chance against a superior New Jersey team. Since that time, most fans and the media especially have aimed their frustration at IsiahThomas and 11 days ago that frustration boiled over.

With the Knicks reaching rock bottom with the brawl with the Nuggets, the NY media and other journalists bashed the Knicks and Isiah for becoming such a disgrace. It likely reached its pinnacle with the front page image on the Post of Isiah and his "donkey ears", in reference to George Karl's comments the day after the brawl in which he called Isiah among other things, a "jackass". Did Isiah resign or complain about the treatment he was receiving? Did the team fold or start pointing fingers? No, they did not. Instead they have taken Knick fans on a wild ride for a week and a half that has seen them beat 3 of the top teams in the league going 4-1 in 5 games. 3 of those 5 games went into overtime with the Knicks seemingly out of everyone of them, only to persevere and find the will and a way to win the game. The fact that this team has found a way to win these games should speak volumes about what kind of coach Isiah is for this team. Would they have won these type of games last year. Absolutely not. Isiah has molded this team into A TEAM. You can see it in these last few games. You can see it on the court, in the huddle, on the bench. Many times while watching the games, I have noticed little things about the players and their body language that suggests to me that this group is becoming a tight nit team. During timeouts, players are talking strategy to each other, players have their arms draped around each other often times around Isiah too. You see players laughing and cheering their fellow teammates on the floor.

Every time the media tries to divide the team with negative stories, the team seems to ignore it all and battle on. Just yesterday, a couple of articles spun Francis's absence from practice as a disinterested player trying to get out of practicing and trying to poison the team . That seems like a a reasonable assessment given Francis' past but if you watched the game Wednesday night, you saw a hobbled Francis giving it his all and cheering on his teammates while on the bench. Maybe Francis is more mature now or maybe Isiah has gotten Francis, along with everyone else, to buy into the team concept or maybe the public bashing Isiah has received lately has made this group of players really go with a "us against the world" mentality. Whatever it may be, it is clear to me that Isiah has already done more with this group of players then Larry Brown done all of last season. Stephon Marbury is playing great basketball now AND fitting in to the schemes that Isiah has put into place. Eddy Curry has become a lethal low post presence and the central focus of the Knicks offense. David Lee is an automatic double double every night. Channing Frye has gotten his stroke back and is becoming a valuable 3rd or 4th go to guy. Jamal Crawford has become equally important with his instant offense and knack to hit the big shot at the end of the game. The other players are all finding their places and meshing with the others to make a very nice rotation of solid players. I admit, optimism is high right now after this great win, but the Knicks these last 11 days have been showing New York City and the league that they are not as bad as many thought and may finally be on the right path.

Friday, November 03, 2006

One Crazy Start

Some random thoughts about the Knicks after one crazy long game..

1. A win is a win, that is true. But I hope somewhere behind the scenes Isiah is showing his players why they lost a 19 point lead.

2. With 9 minutes to go and the Knicks up by 19, at that very moment I was so excited about what I was seeing. The Knicks were playing great and doing everything right, even with Marbury and Francis having bad nights up to that point. If we can play this way and lower our end of game meltdowns, this team will win alot more games this year.

3. Channing Frye looks lost and appears to have taken a step back this year. I remember over the summer he said he had beefed up and was a lot stronger. I remember thinking I hope the added bulk doesn't have a bad effect on his game. Emeka Okafor did something similar last season and ended up being a disappointment along with being injured the whole season. I really hope Frye is just in a bad funk right now.

4. David Lee has been much more effective in preseason and in the Memphis game. He seems to be the better player to have in the lineup right now instead of Frye. I predict he will be in the starting lineup very soon.

5. Has anyone noticed how much Marbury and Richardson have been high fiving and chest bumping in the games so far? Whatever happened to the theory that Marbury didn't like Richardson and thus the reason Isiah was trying to trade him. The fact that they seem to be on the same page now, has me feeling good too. Richardson could be the big beneficiary of this new offense the Knicks are running. If he could get back to his Phoenix form, it would bring a whole new dimension to the team.

6. The fact that the team stuck together and got this win, in triple OT no less, almost feels like an omen of things to come. Can you imagine the media and all the Knick bashers if they would have lost this game? It could have damaged the players psyche right out of the gates and we saw what happened last year when they started off poorly. But with a win, it becomes a great building block and gives the players confidence that everyone is together on this thing and will give meaning to some of the things Isiah has already been preaching about team unity. Even though its one game, I could defintely see the team latching on to that feeling and possibly making there way through this rough first month as a .500 team. That would be a huge victory for this team. Let just hope all these good vibes don't go down the drain tonight against Atlanta.