Yesterday, we witnessed a feat that has not been touched in 13 years. The last time the Knicks hit the 50 win mark was that long ago. America was at the turn of the millennium. Maybe many Knicks fans blame Y2K for 13 years of mediocre basketball in New York, or even the curse of Patrick Ewing (for the record, the Knicks are 11-0 since Pat joined the post-game crew on MSG). Whatever the case, this is enjoyable. It has me giddy about the playoffs for the first time since 2000.
1999 was a turbulent year in the big bad city; New York was coming off a trip to the Finals, and looking to repeat their success at the turn of the millennium. Not sure that anyone back then would of thought 2000 would bring horrific luck to the Knicks, through numerous questionable moves and unwanted drama. 13 years that really took their toll on the team and us, the fans. I probably would have been laughed at too if I were to tell fans back then too that Kurt Thomas and Marcus Camby would still be holding their own among big men 13 years later.
The Knicks were a stalwart defensive presence in the league under Jeff Van Gundy, finishing in the top 10 in defensive rating in the NBA. Allan Houston and Latrell Sprewell were the new faces of the franchise and looked as if they were going to carry the team for the next 10 years. Though, this duo was not as offensively gifted at the group of Knicks we are watching today, this was made up for on the defensive side of the ball. Marcus Camby actually has a higher rebounding percentage now (18.8%), than he did in 2000 (17.7%).
New York easily swept Toronto back when a first round series only consisted of five games, and made way into Miami for their heated rivalries of the late 90’s. It was a classic seven-game series with a five point average deciding each game. New York won game seven behind Latrell Sprewell’s controversial timeout call that helped the Knicks advance to the Eastern Conference Finals to face Indiana. The Knicks were no match for prime time Reggie Miller who torched the Knicks in six games. Little did Knicks fans know this was the last time we would see a playoff run for an extended amount of time.
I managed to find the intro of game seven against the heat on YouTube. Sadly, people back then weren’t too into making season mixes and highlight tapes on the complex internet scene.
13 years later and we finally have something to talk about again. How the times have changed since the last time there has been a 50 win season in New York and given us something to cheer for. Just a bit of a walk down memory lane, go Knicks.
Stats used are from www.Basketball-Reference.com
Well, they’ve done it. The Knicks have clinched a playoff spot. Now I can finally stop holding my breath, I can shave my “they’re-not-in-the-playoffs-yet” beard and I can dump my girlfriend. That last one might not have much to do with the Knicks, but I like to share. Speaking of sharing, now that the boys are officially in the playoffs, I’ve decided to get some other things off my chest, too. I’m sure the Knicks know and care that I think they’re all heroes for getting us to the promised land, but there is still lots of work to do. While each of the Knicks seems to have found a way to contribute something positive this season, each of them also seems to have a fatal flaw which has hurt the team on occasion. So, I’ve decided to make a Knicks wish list, wherein I list the one thing I would wish for/from each member of the team to give us the best chance of success in the postseason.
Carmelo Anthony - Don’t be a hero. Melo has become a surprisingly complete player this season, but even he has a fatal flaw. He wants to win so badly and he wants to be the hero so badly that he will sometimes make bad choices that end up hurting the Knicks. So no more playing hurt when he should be resting up and no more forcing tough contested shots when things aren’t clicking for the team on offense. We need a healthy Melo that trusts his teammates and sticks to the plan on offense even when things aren’t going great.
Tyson Chandler - Stay on the court. By which I mean get/stay healthy and stay out of fights and foul trouble. I love that you’re such a rambunctious tough guy Tyson, but we really need you to keep out of trouble.
Raymond Felton - Pass first, attack the rim second and shoot jumpers last. This may seem like pretty obvious stuff for a point guard, but Ray’s shooting under 42% from the field and it’s due largely to him taking difficult two point shots when he should be finding a way to dish or get to the rack.
Iman Shumpert - Be aggressive. Alright Shump, you seem to have fixed your three point shot as you’re now hitting on close to 40% of them after only hitting around 30% last year, nice work. So why is your overall field goal percentage down to just 36%? It seems like you need to attack the rim more, like you did last year. While you’re at it, let’s see more attack mode on D as well. Last season you were someone we counted on to shut down the opposing team’s best perimeter player and we need to see more of that kind of defense this season.
Jason Kidd - Find your shot again. Look Jason, we all lose things, so let’s think about this: where were you standing the last time you remember having your shot? The good news here is that after an epic slump from three-point land, Jason has recently been showing signs that he’s over it. At this point in his career, Kidd’s game actually has quite a few flaws, but he finds lots of ways to compensate and cover for most of them. Being able to reliably nail open threes is a crucial part of old man Kidd’s game now though and if the Knicks are going to make noise in the playoffs, he needs to keep working with shooting guru Dave Hopla and making sure he doesn’t misplace his three point shot again.
Amare Stoudemire - Get back in shape in time. STAT is the Knicks’ X-factor for the playoffs. If he’s healthy and in playing shape like he was right before he got injured, then suddenly anything’s possible come playoff time. Remember the way he dominated the beginning of the fourth quarter against the Heat before Woody inexplicably benched him? Yeah, we need that.
JR Smith - Play intelligent, fully engaged basketball. At this point, nobody can really question Smith’s talent. The question is his focus and judgment. When JR is focused on the defensive end, he can give the Knicks a real perimeter stopper. On the offensive end, he needs to stop forsaking team offense so frequently in favor of crazy, low percentage, step back, two-point jumpers. When Smith is taking open jumpers off the catch or attacking the rim, he’s an incredible weapon, but when he’s constantly freelancing, he frequently digs big holes for the Knicks.
Steve Novak -Find a second skill set. Not only is Novak the Knicks’ best three-point shooter, but he’s one of the best three-point shooters in the NBA. That’s why he has a job in the NBA and he averages 20 minutes a game. He may be one the ten best shooters in the entire galaxy, but he really needs to find a second skill set. I realize it might be asking too much for Steve to become an elite or even solid defender, but what about developing a two-point game to compliment his three-point game? Like Shump, Steve actually has a higher percentage from three than he does overall. This means that teams only need to guard him at the arc and can and often do otherwise ignore him. Get on that Steve!
Pablo Prigioni - Just shoot already! At close to 39%, Pablo is one the Knicks’ best three-point shooters. Someone needs to inform Pablo of this though. No more looking left, right, up and down before deciding it’s safe to shoot. You’re not crossing the street Pablo and you don’t need to check with anyone when you’re wide open, just shoot like you’re confident that it will go in and things will be great.
Kenyon Martin - Keep up the good work. Kenyon is playing so far beyond reasonable expectations, that I feel that it would be absurd to ask for anything else but more of the same at this point.
Chris Copeland - Work on your defense. Cope is a special talent on offense, able to score and score efficiently in a variety of ways. Yet he doesn’t get much playing time, because coach Woody considers him a liability on defense. Cope realized that being a great offensive player will get you a job in the NBA, now he needs to realize that being at least a decent defender is what’s required to get him more playing time.
Rasheed Wallace - More healthiness, less three-point shooting. Given how long Sheed has been out of the lineup, getting healthy is a given, so I’m adding a second wish: stop shooting so many threes. Sheed is a stopper on defense and he has the skills to be a post threat, but he wastes too many offensive possessions with his love of the three ball, which wouldn’t be quite so bad if his shot wasn’t so bad (32%).
Marcus Camby - Find your game. So far this has been a lost season for the former defensive player of the year. When he’s gotten onto the court his offense has been completely missing: 31% FG%, down from 48% last season and he hasn’t established enough dominance on defense or on the boards to maintain a spot in the rotation, even with the Knicks seriously hurting for bigs.
James White - Recover your swagger. While White is far from an accomplished NBA player, we could always depend on him for self-confidence and swagger. Who can forget his epic trash talk leading up to the Slam Dunk contest? Unfortunately, the dunk contest seems to have been overly humbling for White. Ever since his ignominious performance (or lack of performance) at the dunk competition, Flight White has been grounded. In the starting lineup against Miami to help defend against the Heat’s elite wings, he looked lost and desperate, seemingly always a step behind the game. It didn’t take long after that for him to fade from the starting lineup all the way to very end of the bench where Sheed leaves his used chewing gum. He’s recently shown a little bit of life in garbage time and if he can learn to shine during meaningful minutes, he may yet have a shot to stay in the NBA after this season.
Kurt Thomas - Rehab, rehab, rehab. While Kurt hasn’t seen many minutes this season, he’s delivered when called upon. The defense is still there and though his offensive is somewhat one dimensional, at least it’s consistent. Thus I can only ask/hope/wish that he gets better soon.
Mike Woodson - Manage those minutes. Based on his short tenure in NY, Woody is a sensational coach who deserves to be part of the coach of the year conversation. I just ask that he find more rest for his older players and his overworked stars. JR, Tyson and Carmelo have all played over 2000 minutes this season, despite the fact that JR is a reserve, Chandler has missed five games and Melo 13. You’ve clinched the playoffs coach, as much as playoff seeding matters, it won’t matter at all if the Knicks’ key players have all broken down.
Yesterday, on Spike Lee’s birthday, Knicks fans got to share in one of the best gifts Spike could get, a win at Madison Square Garden. It was a star-studded affair with Spike front row, Giants Wide Receiver Victor Cruz in the building, and Carmelo Anthony’s return after his knee injury. Following suit with such special occasions was the attire, more specifically, the sneakers worn by the guest of honor and the Knicks.
The ensemble of NYK kicks on display were interesting to see because there was a theme of flash and modesty on the court. As you looked at Melo attacking the basket in his M9 Syracuse, within the same glance, J.R. Smith’s orange Nike Hyperdunk Low and Iman Shumpert’s adidas Top Ten 2000 “2WO 1NE” caught looks. The only other Knick known to turn up the color scheme consistently is James White when he rocks the K1X AntiGravity. But in the shadow of the all the brights—including Spike Lee’s Volt colored Black History Month Air Jordan Spizikes (above)—Chris Copeland and Marcus Camby’s were the silent killers. Copeland played 20 minutes in the Nike Zoom Hyperenforcer, and Marcus Camby wore the blue colorway from the Nike Zoom Huarache TR “NYC” pack. Peep Camby’s kicks below.
The Knicks released a few statements earlier regarding Tyson Chandler and Kurt Thomas. As per The Daily News-
An MRI of Thomas’ foot Tuesday in New York revealed a stress fracture/stress reaction according to a person close to the veteran Knicks forward.
Big Kurt will miss about 2-4 weeks, but he deserves some rest time playing 27 minutes last night– a season high. Along with that, we have also learned that the MRI Tyson Chandler received on his neck, revealed a slight bulging disk. Chandler is expected to miss approximately one week.
Insult to injury is the best way to put it. Kurt Thomas had been an absolute warrior for the Knicks’ during their west coast swing, playing 27 minutes against Utah coming up with some crucial plays in helping to salvage a win before heading back to New York. Chandler has been out of action since collapsing in Denver, and what scares me is the fear of Chandler becoming listed as day-to-day, because you do not get listed day-to-day by the Knicks training staff unless your injury is extremely serious. This makes sense, doesn’t it?
For now, I am guessing Marcus Camby will fill the void at the five spot for the next week. Hopefully he won’t be relied on too heavily, but there virtually aren’t many other options in the frontcourt. The Knicks are currently missing five players, all ranging from power forward to center, considering Carmelo Anthony at the power forward spot, for now.
Luckily for New York, they do not play a team above .500 for exactly one week when they head to Boston next Tuesday. Hopefully, that is when Chandler returns. Anthony is expected to return tomorrow after missing a week of basketball, and says he feels ‘no pain’ in his knee. But without Tyson, the going may still get rough on defense.
Right now, I am more worried about heading into the playoffs healthy instead of worrying about where I am seeded. With our veterans breaking down left and right, I am legitimately worried the same thing will continue to happen if minutes aren’t seriously monitored with guys like Jason Kidd and Marcus Camby. Lets keep our heads up, grab a couple wins right now where we can, and get through this next month in one piece.
Last season, the Knicks had a Defensive Rating of 101.0 or 101 points per 100 possessions, good for fifth in the league. This was despite having notorious pace addict Mike D’Antoni as their head coach for most of the season. This season, the Knicks, now coached by reputed defensive guru Mike Woodson, have a Defensive Rating of 106.1, good for 15th in the league. So how did our beloved Knickerbockers go from one of the league’s elite defensive teams to right smack in the middle?
After a slow start, the Knicks fought back to beat the Orlando Magic tonight at the Amway Center by a score of 114-106. Carmelo Anthony led all scorer’s with 40 points while adding in six rebounds and six assists. Jameer Nelson and Aaron Afflalo both scored 29 points to lead the Magic. The Knicks got a double-double from Tyson Chandler (14 points, 12 rebounds), 18 points from J.R. Smith off the bench and an all-around game from Jason Kidd (15 points, eight rebounds, 7 assists). Nikola Vucevic lead all players with 18 rebounds for Orlando.
Marcus Camby has not played too much this year, after being signed to a pretty sizable contract, but today it was disclosed that the big fellah has plantar fasciitis, confirmed by an MRI.
Right now, there’s no timetable for Camby’s return to the floor, but, luckily, Amare Stoudemire appears to be on the mend, which will help with the depleted big-man depth. In the mean time, expect Kurt Thomas to see a rise in his minutes, and possibly Chris Copeland, too, as he was quite effective against the Suns.
After back-to-back tough losses on the road, the Knicks were in need of a win. What better than having the 3-10 Detroit Pistons up next on your schedule? The Knicks defeated the Pistons in today’s matinee game at Madison Square Garden by a score of 121-100. The Knicks scoring was led by Carmelo Anthony’s 29 points. The Knicks got double-doubles from Raymond Felton (14 points, 10 assists) and J.R. Smith (15 points, 10 rebounds). The Garden crowd was also treated to the return of Steve Novak’s “Discount Double Check” celebration as he poured in 18 points, going 5-for-7 from beyond the arc. The Pistons were led by Brandon Knight’s 21 point, five assist performance.
Hopefully the Knicks had a great Thanksgiving dinner, because they’re Thanksgiving Eve and Black Friday were absolutely horrendous. Following their late game loss to the Dallas Mavericks Wednesday night, the Knicks put up a pitiful performance tonight against the Houston Rockets, losing by a score of 131-103. The Rockets were led by the duo of James Harden (33 points) and Chandler Parsons (31 points). The two combined to shoot 20-for-32 from the field (7-of-12 from beyond the arc) and 17-of-18 from the free throw line, with Harden alone shooting a perfect 16-for-16 from the charity stripe. The Knicks were led by the hot hand of Carmelo Anthony, who finished with 37 points on 14-for-24 shooting (7-for-12 from beyond the arc).
The Knicks take their 5-0 record into the Home of the Alamo to take on the San Antonio Spurs at AT&T Center. The Spurs come into tonight’s game with a 7-1 record, tops in the Southwest division and Western Conference. They have won three straight ballgames and are coming off a close, two-point victory over the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center this past Tuesday.
With the Knicks set to take on the Philadelphia 76ers in their fifth preseason game, let’s take a look at notes from their two losses this weekend against the Toronto Raptors (a 107-88 loss on Friday) and Boston Celtics (a 109-88 loss on Saturday).
The 6’11 big man out of UMass came in to the league with a lot of fanfare. A storied college career capped by a run to the Final Four and a Wooden Award, before leaving after his junior season, led a lot of people to believe that Camby was destined for NBA greatness…and for the most part, they were right.