The Knicks did something on Sunday they couldn’t do on eight separate occasions last season: beat the Boston Celtics. But, despite the win, there are some things the team needs to clean up, in order to contend for a championship this season.
The Knicks are never going to win a championship allowing teams to shoot over 50%. The Celtics shot 51.3% from the floor on Christmas, and that number was without their no. 1 scorer Paul Pierce playing, and his two main replacements (Sasha Pavlovic and Marquis Daniels) combining for four points on two-for-eight shooting. There are no excuses for the Knicks to allow the Celtics to shoot at that clip, especially after the Celtics shot just five-for-14 in the first quarter (35.7%).
Even more maddening was the defense on Rajon Rondo. Rondo, after enduring a month of December that was full of trade rumors, that had him going to NO for Chris Paul, put on a show with 31 points, 13 assists, 5 steals and 5 rebounds.
Now, I’m one of those guys that believes Rondo is as good as advertised, and not a product of being around great teammates. Rather, he can make his teammates better. However, he shouldn’t be shooting 11-for-19 against anyone. It’s not a secret that the guy can’t shoot and that he is a human fast break. The Knicks saw that for themselves seven times last year (he sat out one-game with an injury), so his game was no secret going into the Christmas Day game.
Yet there was Rondo again, getting into the lane at will. Of his 19 shot attempts, 12 came inside the lane and he converted eight. On jumpshots, he was three-for-seven. You do the math. While Toney Douglas was drafted back in 2009 because of his defensive skills, and while the effort is always there on D, he’s not always in the best position and at times is too aggressive. Thats where Mike Woodson is supposed to step in and teach Douglas when and against whom he should be aggressive. Rondo is not that guy.
Other things to note: Knicks were out rebounded 41-31, despite having the front court advantage. While we should assume it will take some time for Tyson Chandler and Amare Stoudemire to get used to playing together, there were many occasions against the Celtics where Chandler was left alone to battle the Boston bigs, while Amare was a spectator. In order to become a better rebounder (and defender), Amar’e can’t give up so quickly on plays. Brandon Bass went to work on the boards (11 total, 5 offensive), many of them against Amare.
Finally, with the Knicks now headed to the west coast for three games, and rookie Iman Shumpert out two to four weeks with his MCL injury, Landry Fields, Bill Walker and possibly Mike Bibby and Steve Novak will have to step up for the team. The Knicks will be facing teams with tons of talent in the backcourt (Warriors: Curry & Ellis, Lakers: Kobe: Kings: Evans & Thronton).