Knicks Morning News (2014.01.31)

  • [New York Newsday] Knicks rout Cavaliers for fourth win in row (Fri, 31 Jan 2014 00:20:37 EST)

    J.R. Smith drove baseline and threw down a highlight reel dunk in the first quarter. Later, he crossed up Tristan Thompson so badly on a crossover dribble that the Cavaliers forward ended up on his backside and Smith hit the shot.

  • [New York Newsday] Mike Woodson may stick with small lineup (Fri, 31 Jan 2014 00:14:07 EST)

    Mike Woodson is leaning toward starting small even after some of his big players return.

  • [New York Times] Warriors Dominate Inside, Rout Clippers 111-92 (Fri, 31 Jan 2014 06:22:17 GMT)

    David Lee had 22 points and 11 rebounds, Andrew Bogut grabbed 17 boards and the Golden State Warriors whipped the Los Angeles Clippers 111-92 Thursday night.    

  • [New York Times] Sports Briefing: Suns Surprise Pacers (Fri, 31 Jan 2014 04:55:24 GMT)

    Goran Dragic had 28 points and the Phoenix Suns handed the Indiana Pacers just their second home loss of the season with a 102-94 victory.    

  • [New York Times] Nets’ Blatche May Represent Philippines, a Nation That’s Foreign Even to Him (Fri, 31 Jan 2014 04:04:23 GMT)

    Andray Blatche casually and rather comically confirmed an international report that he was being recruited to join the Philippine national basketball team before the FIBA World Cup.    

  • [New York Times] Knicks 117, Cavaliers 86: Ailing Knicks Prevail by Thinking Small (Fri, 31 Jan 2014 03:55:20 GMT)

    The injury-depleted Knicks went with a small lineup Thursday night, and easily won their fourth straight game.    

  • [New York Times] Knicks Crush Cavs 117-86, Win Fourth Straight (Fri, 31 Jan 2014 03:49:27 GMT)

    Carmelo Anthony and rookie Tim Hardaway Jr. each scored 29 points, J.R. Smith embarrassed a couple of defenders on his way to 19, and the New York Knicks beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 117-86 Thursday night for their fourth straight victory.    

  • [New York Times] Nowtizki, Bosh Head Reserves for All Star Game (Fri, 31 Jan 2014 03:01:08 GMT)

    Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki was named to his 12th All Star team on Thursday while Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh was selected for his ninth appearance at the NBA’s mid-season clash in New Orleans on February 16.    

  • [New York Times] Suns Surprise Pacers at Home (Fri, 31 Jan 2014 02:58:31 GMT)

    Goran Dragic had 28 points and the Phoenix Suns handed the Indiana Pacers just their second home loss of the season with a 102-94 victory.    

  • [New York Times] Sports Briefing: N.B.A. Names Tatum Deputy Commissioner (Fri, 31 Jan 2014 01:18:16 GMT)

    Mark Tatum will become the N.B.A.’s deputy commissioner when Adam Silver takes over for David Stern on Saturday.    

  • [New York Times] Blazers, Rockets Each Get 2 NBA All-Star Reserves (Fri, 31 Jan 2014 01:07:40 GMT)

    The Portland Trail Blazers and Houston Rockets each had two players picked as reserves for the NBA All-Star game, while the Indiana Pacers had to settle for just Roy Hibbert despite the league’s best record.    

  • [New York Post] Knicks’ Bargnani unlikely to return soon (Fri, 31 Jan 2014 04:41:54 -0500)

    Andrea Bargnani, in breaking his silence, showed off his new black elbow brace, admitted his injury was "terrible'' and said a timetable for his return from rehab is tricky because…

  • [New York Post] J.R. Smith finally comes up big for Knicks (Fri, 31 Jan 2014 02:43:26 -0500)

    For J.R. Smith — actually, for all the Knicks — the 2013-14 season has been a collection of extremes. The team has had ups, downs. Injuries everywhere. A five-game winning…

  • [New York Daily News] Knicks rout Cavs as Woody’s ‘Small Ball’ lineup rolls to 4th straight (Fri, 31 Jan 2014 06:53:29 GMT)

    Mike Woodson stubbornly has attempted to force a big, square peg into a small, round hole from the start of the season. But since Andrea Bargnani went down with an elbow injury last week, the Knicks have taken off with four straight wins behind the so-called “small ball” lineup that worked so successfully last season.    

  • [New York Daily News] Isola: Cavs show you can’t be picky, draft not always the answer (Fri, 31 Jan 2014 06:14:19 GMT)

    Just imagine how unhappy the Cavaliers must be with a former No. 1 overall pick who is popular enough among NBA fans to be selected to start the All-Star Game but isn’t good enough to lift the Cavs anywhere near mediocrity. Kyrie Irving apparently would rather run away than learn to run a team.    

  • [New York Daily News] Knicks Insider: Injuries leave Woodson’s bench shorthanded (Fri, 31 Jan 2014 05:58:47 GMT)

    The answers to the “questionable” status of Iman Shumpert and Kenyon Martin unsurprisingly did not deviate from the news Mike Woodson and the Knicks have been dealing with all season when it comes to injuries.    

  • [ESPN.com – New York Knicks] Opening Tip: Stick with small ball? (Fri, 31 Jan 2014 06:00:33 EDT)

    How does Carmelo Anthony feel about the Knicks playing a two-guard lineup?“I really like [it]. I don’t have no problem with that. We have had success with that. It seems to be working right now,” Anthony said after Thursday’s win over Cleveland. The Knicks have won four in a row since going to a smaller lineup. And they’ve looked like a different team on offense. For the season, New York is averaging 105 points per 100 possessions.

  • [ESPN.com – New York Knicks] Hardaway sets career high, ties team record (Fri, 31 Jan 2014 01:27:07 EDT)

    Tim Hardaway Jr. is making the Knicks front office look pretty smart these days. Hardaway Jr., taken 24th in the 2013 draft by New York, scored a career-high 29 points on 11-for-17 shooting and tied a Knicks record with six 3-pointers against the Cavs. “A helluva performance,” Mike Woodson said. “He was steady.”Hardaway Jr.’s six 3s tied him with Nate Robinson and Toney Douglas for the Knicks rookie record for most in a game.

  • [ESPN.com – New York Knicks] A more 'serious' J.R. Smith? (Fri, 31 Jan 2014 01:02:47 EDT)

    NEW YORK — You wouldn’t think the words “J.R. Smith” and “serious” belong in the same sentence. Remember, we’re talking about a guy who was fined and benched for untying his opponents’ shoelaces. A guy who’s been docked $50,000 for sending out tweets the NBA deemed offensive.So what you’re about to read may surprise you. Smith said on Thursday that he’s taken a more serious approach to his job recently.

  • Knicks 117, Cavs 86: Letters to David

    EDITOR’S NOTE: Tonight was David Stern’s final Knicks game as NBA Commissioner. A few hours before tipoff, the Knicks were asked to write a short letter to Stern highlighting some of the ways the outgoing chief had touched their lives over the years. These are their letters.

    Cleveland Cavaliers 86 Final
    Recap | Box Score
    117 New York Knicks
    Carmelo Anthony, SF 30 MIN | 8-17 FG | 10-12 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 29 PTS | +9

    Yo Commish,

    It’s been great working with you. When I came into the league I was just a kid, and you helped me keep my head on straight and get rid of that haircut. They say it’s a star’s league and you sure know how to take care of your stars. Remember that time me and LeBron [REDACTED] and then you had Silver come [REDACTED]? That was some funny shit. Anyway I hope you have a great retirement. Any time your in NYC be sure to hit me up. We’ll go that [REDACTED] up in [REDACTED] with all the [REDACTED] you tried getting numbers from after we [REDACTED]. Good times.

    Much Love,

    Melo

    Tyson Chandler, C 32 MIN | 4-4 FG | 3-5 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | +27

    Dear Commissioner Stern,

    I’ve never liked you. I don’t like your face. I don’t like your hair. I don’t like your glasses. I don’t like your suits. I don’t like your teeth. I don’t like your wife. I don’t like your pet monkey Silver. I don’t like your shoes. I don’t like your voice. I don’t like your Subaru. And I don’t like your face.

    Just kidding boss congrats have fun.

    Tyson

    Raymond Felton, PG 36 MIN | 5-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 9 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 4 TO | 12 PTS | +33

    Dear David,

    Thank you for your service to the league. Every time I see you at an NBA event or All Star weekend you hand me your keys thinking I’m the valet, even though we shook hands at the Draft. But that’s OK. I liked parking your car. I’ve never driven a Subaru before. I didn’t know you were a Soulja Boy fan but it was playing pretty loud when I started the car. I’m a fan too. Speaking of cars I don’t know if this is the right place to tell you this but Andre Miller still hasn’t given my car back from when I let him borrow it in Denver. Just thought you should know.

    Peace,

    Ray

    Pablo Prigioni, PG 22 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | +15

    Mother David,

    I would please like to belief that you are a wonderful basketball boss. When I come to league I was very old but you make me feel like baby. I hope that when you expire you may airplane down to my country. Here we will eat wine and I show you my roof filled with many grazing steaks. During day we can car to the plaza and purchase many short blue jeans, and at night we can disgust our loved game. I would like also you to taste my car collection. I have long empty road in front of my castle so we can swim fast. Thank you for letting me pray in America. It is a wonderful country and the peoples have very strange smells.

    With a Heart That Is Bleeding and Yet Fantastic With Love,

    Pablo

    J.R. Smith, SG 35 MIN | 8-16 FG | 1-3 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 19 PTS | +16

    Hey,

    Shoes untied. [REDACTED]

    Yours Truly,

    Earl

    PS — Use the money to pay for Cleveland’s ankle surgeries.

    Jeremy Tyler, PF 22 MIN | 4-6 FG | 0-1 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | +14

    Commissioner Stern,

    I’m not gonan lie, I’m still pretty pissed you made that rule about high school kids that made me go to Japan. I thought it was a good idea at first but then I got there and that Mr. Baseball movie wasn’t lying. I broke four showerheads my first week there. You don’t know what it’s like stepping on people all the time. But I got my chance and now I’m happy, so thanks for making the NBA great. You’re pretty short too so don’t get stepped on out there.

    Jeremy

    Tim Hardaway Jr., SG 30 MIN | 11-17 FG | 1-1 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 29 PTS | +10

    Dear Mr. Stern,

    We haven’t gotten the chance to get to know eachother, but everyone says you were a great commissioner. Well, my dad says you were a mother-effer, but I think he meant that in a nice way. You know how my dad gets. Anyway I’m glad I got to put on a show for you for your last game at the Garden. I kept giving you the monocle after I’d make a basket but you looked like you were choking on water a lot. Hope you’re alright. I know my uncle PJ Brown says choking is fun but I don’t think it really is. I hope Adam Silver is as good as people say you were. I sometimes have nightmares of him biting my neck. I should talk to someone.

    Good Luck,

    THJR

    Cole Aldrich, C 8 MIN | 0-1 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | +5

    Dea rCom mis sioner,

    Iapologize ifth is ishard to r e ad but I have to wr i te wit h my mouth on acc ount m y han ds do n ‘t work sowell% g oo dlu ckwith vrything.

    You rs,

    Cloe

    Toure’ Murry, SG 6 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | +2

    Mr. Stern,

    Thanks for signing the balls and also my checks.

    Toure’

    Metta World Peace, SF 19 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-2 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | +24

    Hari Krishna,

    You know what the Vikings said about forgiveness? Nothin. But I think we should forgive each other. I was wild back in the day. Like a giraffe. That’s how I learned to steal lunch from the window washers. We should get together over All Star break down in the French Quarter. You know why they call it that right? Because same money buys you four times the trouble. Napoleon said that. HA! Remember when I was an All Star that one time? You probably wanted Scott Pollard. I don’t blame you. He’s an Aquarius. Hopefully once we’re both retired we can hang out at the golf course. Stack Jack and I go golfing with baseball bats. By hole five we have the course to ourselves. I actually invented the Arnold Palmer, but I call it the Peace Palmer. Did you know I rap? I’m putting out an album this summer. It’s called Taco Talk. I had cab drivers record all the beats. The Arab ones were the best. See you out there.

    Jah Bless,

    Metta

    Five Things We Saw

    1. Simply put, the Cavaliers are like that time the lake in front of their city caught on fire. That’s how polluted and toxic the situation has become. You could read it in their movements, see it on their faces, and hear it in the emptiness that was their communication. The Cavaliers are bad, they are lost, and we beat the holy hell out of them. Like any half-decent team should.
    2. To achieve this, the Bockers burst out of the gate with the aplomb – and the small-ball lineup – that we’ve seen for going on a week. The rock ricocheted around the floor when it had to, stuck to Melo’s stove-hot mit when it wanted to, and generally continued looking like an extension of the team’s very basketball being. The looks were clean and unencumbered, the strokes confident and followed through. The spacing was [mostly] ideal, and the chemistry — mercifully, finally — looks locked-in, hopefully for the long haul.
    3. Is it just me, or does Kyrie Irving have a very distinct Richie-Tenenbaum-just-took-off-his-shoes vibe going on? I know he’s intimated that he would like out off of the flame-engulfed oil tanker that just careened into an iceberg please, but man, he’s not doing a very good job of hiding it where it matters most.
    4. As you’ve probably gathered from the above, David Stern was in attendance tonight – his final Knicks game as Commissioner. I can’t offer anything that hasn’t been or won’t be said in the myriad retrospectives and oral histories guaranteed to exhaust our open tabs in the coming days and weeks. But I will say this: Thank you for inventing an envelope-sized freezer.
    5. By my count, that’s four wins in a row. Celebrate accordingly.

    Game Preview & Thread: Knicks vs. Cavs

    The Cleveland Cavaliers stumble into Madison Square Garden to take on the Knicks at 8:00 EST this evening. Like the Celtics — never a good way to start a sentence — the Cavs are not playing good basketball right now. To help get a better idea of what we should expect from the club tonight I brought in Conrad Kaczmarek of Fear The Sword and Eric Maroun of Hardwood Paroxysm. Enjoy!

    The Cavs have lost four of their last five games coming into tonight. What have been their biggest problems, and how can the Knicks take advantage?

    Conrad: The Cavs are an incredibly inconsistent team, specifically on offense. They’ll look great and fluid for one quarter and then be absolutely horrible the next. Honestly, if the Knicks just give solid effort for 48 minutes and don’t really mess up, then the Cavs will probably go through such a horrible dry spell that they’ll beat themselves.

    Eric: Aside from offense, defense, and coaching, the Cavs have been great! In all seriousness, the offense becomes stagnant far too often, and the play call is basically “Pray that Kyrie Irving can make something happen in isolation.” The team was constructed around Irving, a ball dominant guard, which is fine in theory except for the fact that they surrounded him with similar type players who need the ball in their hands in Dion Waiters and Jarrett Jack. Although CJ Miles has played well this year, they lack consistent outside shooting as a whole. Waiters goes through stretches where you feel like he’s a threat from anywhere on the floor, but then he’ll go 3-14 the next game.

    For instance, in his last seven games, he’s scored 18, 9, 0, 15, 13, 4, and 21 points. You literally have no idea what you’re getting from him on any given night. In the post, they don’t have a reliable post up threat as Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao tend to score on the basis of their offensive rebounding abilities. Tyler Zeller has looked much improved from last year, but he still needs to add muscle to his frame because he gets pushed around by the bigger centers in the league. Defensively, they are extremely weak at the guard positions with Irving being the primary culprit. The Cavs also rank 26th in the league in fast break points (the Knicks are 30th) which means that they are not creating turnovers that lead to easy buckets. When you have a bland offensive system, you need to be able to score easy points if at all possible, and Cleveland has struggled with that all year. Coaching wise, I’m not sure what Mike Brown says in the locker room, but it’s clearly not working. Too often, the Cavs find themselves in first quarter holes that they can’t recover from or teams pull away from them in the third quarter.

    The most notable instance of this was this past Sunday when they were outscored 25-6 in the third quarter by Phoenix. And don’t even get me started on their out of bounds plays which have been nothing short of an abject disaster all year long, peaking with a five second call with two seconds left in the game last week against Dallas when they were going for the tie. All of that being said, the best way for the Knicks to take advantage tonight is jump out to an early lead. The Cavs are not built to come back from large deficits so if New York can pull away early, you can just about chalk up a W.

    How has Luol Deng fared thus far in Cleveland? I found it pretty interesting the team has a +/- of -22 with the Irving/Waiters/Deng/Thompson/Varejao lineup, but +16 with Irving/Miles/Deng/Thompson/Varejao. Why do you think that is?

    Conrad: Deng’s been pretty good. He’s still adjusting to everything and it’s obvious that there isn’t much chemistry there yet (although to be fair, there’s no chemistry between any players on this team). That’s not a surprising stat to me. The Cavs’ best lineups are often the ones that have the most veterans in them. This team is just so incredibly young that any time there’s too many young guys on the court, everything falls apart.

    Eric: When you’re running some combination of Earl Clark, Alonzo Gee, and Anthony Bennett out at the SF for the duration of the season, there are few players that wouldn’t be an upgrade. Adding a former All-Star like Deng to man that position was a bonus for the Cavs. I think Deng is still fitting into the system, and mentally needs to adjust to being around a team that is simply not used to winning games the way that Chicago has for Deng’s career. As much as we joke about the term “veteran leadership,” that’s really what Cleveland needs as their entire core of Irving, Waiters, Bennett, Thompson, and Zeller are all under 24 years old. Irving in particular has never been around anyone who is used to winning like Deng. He needs to be a sponge and soak up as much knowledge as he can from Deng while he is here.

    Regarding the +/- discrepancies, as I touched on in the last question, having two ball dominant guards in Irving and Waiters makes the offense stagnant at times. Miles has shown the ability to spot up from beyond the arc and knock down shots which allows Cleveland to stretch the floor when he’s on it. Deng has also been a pleasant surprise from downtown since coming to Cleveland. He was shooting 27.4% from 3 as a Bull, but in 10 games with the Cavs, he’s connecting on 37.0% of his three point shots.

    The Knicks obviously struggle defending quality point guards and Kyrie Irving is obviously one of the best in the East. However, his offensive numbers are down this season and his defense hasn’t really improved that much either. What’s your take on Kyrie’s season thus far?

    Conrad: His defense has gotten better, but it’s obviously not where we need it to be yet. His offense has been fine. He had a disastrous November shooting the ball, but since December started, he’s been extremely efficient. The problem is that this is his third year in the league and everybody was expecting him to make some giant leap into that super-elite level. Obviously that hasn’t happened. He’s still very good, it’s just not the improvement that we had hoped for.

    Eric: Disappointing? Frustrating? Infuriating? All of the above? I absolutely love Kyrie Irving, but it’s safe to say he has taken a step backwards from where he was last year. I’m not sure if he’s been reading his press clippings too much, is clashing with coaches and/or teammates behind the scenes, or something else, but his attitude has been subpar both on and off the court. Even his most dedicated fans and ardent defenders are starting to get fed up with him treating defense as a completely optional endeavor.

    On the offensive side, he’s forcing shots up late in games that aren’t dropping like they did last year, and all too frequently he simply takes too long to get going in a game. Plus, Chad Ford said in his chat today that Irving has been telling people privately he wants out of Cleveland which certainly won’t help his cause with the fan base. While he was hurt for most of the past two years, this is three straight seasons now that the Cavs have been dismal, and since he is the cornerstone of this rebuild process, Irving is going to take the majority of the heat. On the plus side, he’s still just 21 years old, is starting in the All-Star game, and when he’s feeling it, is still one of the most fun players to watch in the league. So he’s got that going for him which is nice.

    The Cavs offense is a mess, but they do have a DRtg that puts them at 19th in the league. What do the Cavs do well defensively? Should we expect a lot of Deng on Melo?

    Conrad:  Deng will absolutely be guarding Melo, unless the Knicks go small and then he’ll probably be matched up with Tristan Thompson. The Cavs aren’t great defensively, as indicated by their below average ranking on that side of the ball. I think the effort level has been better at times and guys generally just know where they’re supposed to be. When they’re at home, they can play some very good defense. Unfortunately, it all kind of falls apart when they go on the road. Where’s this game being played tonight? Oh crap.

    Eric: They play in the East against some pretty awful teams which greatly helps matters. However, they are still in the bottom half of the league defensively, so it’s hard to say that they’re doing anything extremely well. Anderson Varejao has certainly lost a step, but is still a very good pick and roll defender. The flip side of that is the aforementioned disaster that is Kyrie Irving as the other half of that defensive PnR combo. Tristan Thompson and Varejao are also excellent at cleaning off the glass which has been a main driver behind the Cavs posting the eighth best DReb% in the league (per NBA.com). While generally a middle of the pack defensive team, they are still much improved from the 27th ranked defense in DRtg that they had last year. Deng is far and away the Cavs best wing defender, so he should be glued to Melo at all times if the Cavs want any chance of winning this game.

    With all that said, how do you think the game this evening plays out?

    Conrad:  I think one of these teams will win. Since the Cavs are such a disaster on the road, it will probably be the Knicks. I expect Kyrie Irving to score lots and lots of points though.

    Eric: Trying to predict anything involving the Cavs is about as difficult and messy as nailing Jello to a tree. Earlier this year they knocked off the Clippers and Knicks in back to back games, held a lead against Indiana for three quarters, and played two wildly entertaining games against Portland. On the other hand, they lost by 44 to the Kings and blew an 18 point lead in the span of one quarter against Phoenix this month alone. Anyone that says that they know what they’re getting from this team is either a psychic or a liar, and I don’t believe in psychics. Since you asked though, I’ll take a shot and say Knicks win 98-89.

    Knicks Morning News (2014.01.30)

  • [New York Times] Clippers Beat Wizards 110-103 for 4th Straight Win (Thu, 30 Jan 2014 06:10:40 GMT)

    Blake Griffin led five players in double figures with 29 points, and the Los Angeles Clippers used a 10-4 run over the final 2:48 to beat the Washington Wizards 110-103 Wednesday night for their fourth win in a row.    

  • [New York Times] Sports Briefing: Spurs Lose Ginobili for 3 to 4 Weeks (Thu, 30 Jan 2014 05:50:22 GMT)

    The San Antonio Spurs said Manu Ginobili would miss the next three to four weeks with a strained left hamstring after he was injured dunking the ball against the Rockets.    

  • [New York Times] Conley Leads Grizzlies to 99-89 Win Against Kings (Thu, 30 Jan 2014 05:41:33 GMT)

    Mike Conley had 27 points and 10 assists as the Memphis Grizzlies won their fourth straight by beating the slumping Sacramento Kings 99-89 on Wednesday night.    

  • [New York Times] Bulls Topple Spurs 96-86 (Thu, 30 Jan 2014 05:23:54 GMT)

    Jimmy Butler had 19 points and Carlos Boozer added 16 points and 12 rebounds and the Chicago Bulls handed the injury-riddled San Antonio Spurs their third straight loss, 96-86 on Wednesday night.    

  • [New York Times] Sports Briefing: Thunder Swamp Heat (Thu, 30 Jan 2014 05:13:46 GMT)

    Kevin Durant scored 33 points, Serge Ibaka added 22, and the Oklahoma City Thunder erased an 18-point early deficit on the way to overwhelming the host Miami Heat.    

  • [New York Times] Bobcats Beat Nuggets Behind Jefferson’s 35 Points (Thu, 30 Jan 2014 04:53:58 GMT)

    Al Jefferson matched a season high with 35 points, including a key basket in the final seconds, and the Charlotte Bobcats hung on to beat the Denver Nuggets 101-98 on Wednesday night.    

  • [New York Times] Parsons, Harden-Less Rockets Beat Mavs 117-115 (Thu, 30 Jan 2014 04:45:06 GMT)

    Chandler Parsons scored 26 points and the Houston Rockets held on to beat the Dallas Mavericks 117-115 Wednesday night, knocking off a Texas rival for the second straight day without James Harden.    

  • [New York Times] Thunder Erase 18-Point Deficit to Top Heat (Thu, 30 Jan 2014 03:57:07 GMT)

    Kevin Durant scored 33 points, Serge Ibaka added 22, and the Oklahoma City Thunder came back from an 18-point early deficit on the way to overwhelming the host Miami Heat.    

  • [New York Times] Dragic Scores 30, Injures Elbow in Suns’ Win (Thu, 30 Jan 2014 03:54:07 GMT)

    Goran Dragic scored 30 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter despite sustaining an apparent injury to his left elbow, and the Phoenix Suns beat the Milwaukee Bucks 126-117 on Wednesday night.    

  • [New York Times] Love Carries Wolves Past Pelicans, 88-77 (Thu, 30 Jan 2014 03:33:10 GMT)

    Kevin Love had 30 points and 14 rebounds to finally carry the Minnesota Timberwolves over the .500 mark with an 88-77 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night.    

  • [New York Times] A Huge N.B.A. Rivalry: Sneaker Collections (Thu, 30 Jan 2014 03:31:41 GMT)

    More and more N.B.A. players are slipping into something fashionable as they compete with one another in the sneaker department.    

  • [New York Times] Turner’s Layup Gives 76ers 95-94 Win Over Celtics (Thu, 30 Jan 2014 03:26:59 GMT)

    Evan Turner sank a layup at the buzzer to give the Philadelphia 76ers a 95-94 win over the Boston Celtics in a matchup of the two worst teams in the Atlantic Division on Wednesday night.    

  • [New York Times] Jason Kidd Grows in Role, Along With Beard (Thu, 30 Jan 2014 03:07:49 GMT)

    It appears Kidd’s self-assurance has improved from the start of the season, as has the Nets’ once hideous record, which is now a more respectable 20-23.    

  • [New York Times] Lowry Scores 33 as Raptors Beat Magic 98-83 (Thu, 30 Jan 2014 02:32:56 GMT)

    Kyle Lowry scored a season-high 33 points and dished out 11 assists, Amir Johnson had 22 points and 11 rebounds and the Toronto Raptors beat Orlando 98-83 on Wednesday night, their fifth straight victory over the Magic.    

  • [New York Times] Tom Gola, a Philadelphia Hero, Dies at 81 (Thu, 30 Jan 2014 02:30:25 GMT)

    Gola, still the Division I record-holder in career rebounds, led La Salle to the National Invitation Tournament title in 1952 and the N.C.A.A. title in 1954 before helping the Philadelphia Warriors to the N.B.A. title in 1956.    

  • [New York Times] Knicks’ Shumpert Is ‘Day to Day’ After Shoulder Injury (Thu, 30 Jan 2014 00:58:30 GMT)

    Knicks Coach Mike Woodson said Iman Shumpert, who was injured in Tuesday’s win over Boston, will have his sprained right shoulder re-evaluated Thursday morning.    

  • [ESPN.com – New York Knicks] Opening tip: Will Woody play Tyler more? (Thu, 30 Jan 2014 06:00:52 EDT)

    The game was long over as the Knicks had already built a 35-point lead on the Boston Celtics in the third quarter.But the blowout created some valuable playing time for Jeremy Tyler and he took full advantage. The young big man took a pass from Cole Aldrich and threw down a nasty dunk with 1:39 remaining in the third against the Celtics. That punctuated a 17-point, 5-rebound and 2-block performance in 23 minutes during a 114-88 win over Boston on Tuesday night.

  • [New York Daily News] Woodson on same page as La La about Melo’s future (Thu, 30 Jan 2014 07:20:34 GMT)

    If Knicks coach Mike Woodson seems overjoyed these days, he should. There’s a lot to smile about. His team has a three-game winning streak going into Thursday’s contest against Cleveland at the Garden. And Carmelo Anthony’s wife says she believes the free agent-to-be “definitely” will stay with the Knicks.    

  • Knicks 114, Celtics 88: The State of the Knicks Address

    Boston Celtics 88 Final

    Recap | Box Score

    114 New York Knicks
    Carmelo Anthony, SF 28 MIN | 8-15 FG | 5-7 FT | 9 REB | 4 AST | 4 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 24 PTS | +22

    Good evening distinguished players, honored coaches, august bloggers, committed comment board veterans, and everyone reading this at home. I stand before you as a humble representative of a blog, a team, a franchise to report to you that the State of our Knicks…is strong.

    [RAUCOUS APPLAUSE FROM ALL IN ATTENDANCE]

    It is impossible to talk about the Knicks without talking about Carmelo Anthony. Only a week ago, this incomparable talent authored the most outstanding display of scoring in the history of our franchise.

    [RAUCOUS APPLAUSE FROM ALL IN ATTENDANCE]

    Tonight, while less explosive, was impressive in its own right. Anthony turned in three brilliant quarters of two-way basketball, attacking the glass, picking his spots on offense, and moving the ball to create opportunities for teammates. And it is because of games like this that I am recommending that Congress order Mike Woodson to continue playing Carmelo Anthony at the power forward position so that he can continue to force impossible matchup decisions for opposing defenses and utilize his impressive inside-out passing skills when doubled on the block!

    [WILD APPLAUSE FROM HALF THE CHAMBER, A STRAY VOICE AMONG THE MINORITY THAT IS SITTING YELLS “NO! THE EAST IS TOO BIG!”]

    Tyson Chandler, C 23 MIN | 5-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 13 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | +28

    It is hard to think of the New York Knicks without thinking of those who defend us and keep our rim safe. I speak of course of Tyson Chandler.

    [EVERYONE EXPLODES OUT OF THEIR CHAIRS, HOPING THAT THE CAMERA WILL CATCH THEM BEING THE FIRST TO APPLAUD]

    Tyson Chandler has spent the past few years doing the kind of thankless work that no one else wants to have to worry about. But we can not ignore the real costs associated with this kind of work. Tonight’s ankle injury provided us with another sobering reminder that leaning too hard on one person, no matter how courageous, leaves us vulnerable. A chain, after all, is only as strong as its weakest link. And that’s why I’m recommending that we abandon our switch-happy defensive scheme and make EVERY defender accountable for checking his own man before Tyson Chandler’s legs snap like pretzel rods and he kills his coach in a bout of stress-rage!

    [UNIVERSAL APPLAUSE]

    Raymond Felton, PG 25 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 8 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 4 PTS | +24

    When Mike Woodson took office 3 years ago, he inherited a team with no healthy point guards under the age of 35. That summer, the Knicks acquired Raymond Felton via free agency and decided not to match the Houston Rockets offer for Jeremy Lin.

    [PART OF THE AUDIENCE STANDS TO APPLAUD, THE OTHER PART HISSES AT THEM VIOLENTLY. THE ROOM EXPLODES INTO A CHAOTIC MAYHEM OF FAN ON FAN VIOLENCE. BRICK STABS A GUY IN THE HEART WITH A TRIDENT. AT LONG LAST, ORDER IS RESTORED AND RAYMOND FELTON IS GIVEN A C-PLUS.]

    Pablo Prigioni, PG 27 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | +12

    America is, at it’s heart, a melting pot and a land of opportunity. It is a place where power forwards from Germany can play next to point guards from Puerto Rico, where a Chinese center can kick the ball out to an Eastern European swingman. Two years ago, the Knicks found a slender Argentinian point guard and made him one of the oldest rookies in the history of the NBA. That point guard, Pablo Prigioni, is here with us tonight.

    [CAMERA CUTS TO A SMILING PRIGIONI SITTING IN THE LOWER BALCONY, WAVING AT THE STAGE AS THE FIRST LADY NUDGES HIS ARM]

    My friend Pablo is familiar with both the challenges and the triumphs that come with playing in the NBA. When he first got here, he didn’t get to play much and was confused by the stubborn withdrawal of the man with the shiny head and the perfectly-pencilled circle beard. He didn’t understand a great many of our customs. But he had that most-cherished of dreams: to be a Knick. And when duty called and Jason Kidd was reduced to a dripping pool of wax — not unlike a candle too-often burned — Pablo became the linchpin of the team’s second-half revival. It is with this in mind that I am recommending the Knicks return to the two-point-guard lineups that underscored their success in the second half of last season!

    [GENERAL APPLAUSE; THE SENIOR SENATOR FROM C.A.A. RISES BRISKLY AND LEAVES THE ROOM]

    Iman Shumpert, SG 8 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 4 PTS | +14

    It is important that we never forget the contributions of the next generation, and the investment we must make in the youngest and most helpless among us. Too often does a promising youngster make a forgivable mistake and have it met not by a calm and understanding hand, but by being derisively called “Rook” and benched for something that would be ignored if done by an older, higher-profile teammate. But it has been proven, time and time again, that when we believe in youth, youth rewards that belief!

    [NEAR-UNIVERSAL APPLAUSE; CAMERA RESTS ON A CLEARLY OUT-OF-PLACE LARRY BROWN WHO STARES GLUMLY AT THE GROUND]

    As important as it is that we invest in youth, it is equally important that we not become overly-enamored with the familiar — that we believe in our players but do not fail the test of objectivity. It is for this reason that I am recommending that Iman Shumpert only be made available in a trade that brings back a long-term asset but that the New York Knicks reverse their damaging habit of trading away mid-first-round draft picks in an ill-advised swipe at the false promise of expediency!

    [HALF THE ROOM APPLAUDS, THE OTHER HALF TEARS OFF THEIR DRESS SHIRTS REVEALING A SEA OF “TEAM BARGS!” TEES]

    Jeremy Tyler, PF 23 MIN | 7-9 FG | 3-5 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 17 PTS | -2

    The Knicks, like America, must be a meritocracy — built on achievement rather than relationships, on promise rather than promises. There is a young man here tonight who embodies this sentiment.

    [CAMERA CUTS TO JEREMY TYLER, SITTING WITH HIS EXCITED PARENTS AND TEACHER]

    Jeremy Tyler could have been a Knick three months ago, but the team allowed itself to be blinded by the urge to please a player who was never realistically going to receive a better offer than the one he had from New York. And in their attempt to indulge this person, the Knicks risked losing a player whose youth and interior athleticism has the potential to make him a legitimately important part of their rotation. We are lucky to have Jeremy Tyler with us today, but we must never forget the lesson that our 15 spots go to the 15 best players, no matter their last name, or their brother, or their agent!

    [SCATTERED APPLAUSE, KNICKS’ PR STAFF LOOKS VISIBLY CONCERNED ABOUT THEIR JOB SECURITY FOR LETTING ME TALK]

    Kenyon Martin, PF 9 MIN | 3-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | +12

    As important as it is that we invest in our youth, it is equally vital that we care for the elderly in our society who have done so much for us in the past. In the past 12 months, Kenyon Martin has provided everything the Knicks could have expected of him and much, much more. He has served as a rim protector, a spiritual leader, an occasional mid-range threat, and — at times — the primary interior anchor of a team ravaged by injuries and lacking in post player depth! Thank you Kenyon!

    [UNIVERSAL APPLAUSE]

    Metta World Peace, SF 8 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | 0

    For milennia, humans have striven to solve the riddle of World Peace. Is World Peace something attainable here on earth, or is it the province only of the angels? I am here to report to you that we have World Peace! World Peace works for us now! But man, has World Peace gotten old! I want to urge you to believe that we can do BETTER than World Peace! Give Peace a chance…

    Tim Hardaway Jr., SG 33 MIN | 5-10 FG | 4-4 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 16 PTS | +10

    …but only give Peace a chance for like 9 minutes a night because, dammit, how great does Tim Hardaway, Jr. look!

    [CROWD LOSES THEIR DAMN MINDS]

    J.R. Smith, SG 34 MIN | 6-14 FG | 2-5 FT | 1 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 17 PTS | +13

    If the Knicks are to be a franchise of opportunity, they must also be a franchise of accountability. Much of what makes our team great is embodied in JR Smith: his brashness, his flair, his love of the big moment. But we must strive to temper that which makes us great with that which can also make us good. Nothing is more frustrating than watching a player that we know can help us in so many ways loaf around the court, only to be sparked into action when he has the ball in his hands and a decent look at the basket. JR Smith showed us tonight, like he has so many nights, that he is a creator, an attacker, a capable passer, a willing if sometimes unprincipled defender. We must push him, as we must push ourselves, to look deep within himself!

    [CROWD BEGINS TO RESPOND]

    To find that which tempts him toward selfishness — and tame it! To find that which is best — and nurture it! To know himself not only as we know him, but also as he can only know himself! And to rise every day — as we all should rise — with a firm desire to return to his bed that evening a better player, teammate, and person than the one who got out of it in the morning!

    [CROWD APPLAUDS LOUDLY, CAMERA RESTS ON J.R. PLAYING ON HIS PHONE]

    Mike Woodson

    Only one man has the ability to take what is beautiful about this team and put it into practice! Only one person in this room has the power to pair with the intuition that can compel this team to be its best self. Mike Woodson: it’s been a long and interesting journey to this room, on this day. Your failures, though often self-inflicted, can not objectively be said to have exceeded your successes. There have been times when you deserved to be shown the door — this may still be one of those times — but today, you are here. And you have a job. And whatever else I can say about you, let me also say this: I believe that you want to do that job and I believe that if you simply look objectively at the things that you have already done right and stand firm against the forces that would have you ignore them, you can do it!

    [FRONT OFFICE SHOOTS DAGGERS AT ME, EVERYONE ELSE APPLAUDS]

    We do not have a championship-caliber team. No matter. The Knicks have 15 players and they have a coach and they have an arena and they have a basketball and they have a deathly loyal fan base in a bad division in a weak conference and they have thirty-seven more games to show people that they can do the things they did tonight, and the things they did last year, and the things that they do in our minds every night when our heads hit the pillow and we dream of a future with defense and ball movement and a Garden that sways from the energy generated by the players and through the fans of a team that knows what it is to represent a city where basketball is second to nothing!

    [LONG STANDING OVATION]

    Ladies and gentlemen, on this night, against this Boston Celtics team, for just this one moment, I speak to you with hope and honesty and purpose when I tell you that the state of our Knicks is strong! Good night, and God Bless the New York Knicks!

    Knicks Morning News (2014.01.29)

  • [New York Daily News] Knicks Insider: La La says KG-Melo Cheerios story is nutty (Wed, 29 Jan 2014 10:46:14 GMT)

    La La Anthony said Monday that she “definitely” believes her husband, Carmelo, will stay with the Knicks beyond this season. And the Knicks’ leading scorer and pending free agent doesn’t have a problem with his better half going public.    

  • [New York Daily News] Isola: Love La La, but don’t buy hype (Wed, 29 Jan 2014 07:54:07 GMT)

    It was Carmelo Anthony’s better half who skillfully hijacked Super Bowl week in New York by declaring on Monday, “I definitely think” her famous husband will re-sign with the Knicks.    

  • [New York Daily News] Knicks rout Celtics in front of NFL stars, but lose Iman (Wed, 29 Jan 2014 06:57:10 GMT)

    Even when the Knicks take a couple of steps forward this season, it still has to hurt. The injuries continued to mount as starting guard Iman Shumpert left in the first quarter on Tuesday with a sprained shoulder, while returning big man Kenyon Martin remains unable to completely shake his recurring ankle problems.    

  • [ESPN.com – New York Knicks] Opening Tip: Melo to the Bulls? (Wed, 29 Jan 2014 06:00:59 EDT)

    Melo Drama has hit the Midwest. Chicago’s been abuzz with rumors that Carmelo Anthony may sign with the Bulls as a free agent this summer. Someone asked Melo on Tuesday if he’s thought about the possibility of playing for the Bulls. “Not at all,” he said. What about his relationship with Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau?“I don’t have one with Thibs,” he said. For the most part, Anthony’s been reluctant to discuss his free agency.

  • [ESPN.com – New York Knicks] 'Bockers better without Bargnani? (Wed, 29 Jan 2014 01:04:03 EDT)

    NEW YORK — The Knicks have won three straight. Andrea Bargnani has missed three straight games. Is there a correlation here?Of course, no one in the Knicks locker room is going to come out and say they’ve been better without Bargnani. So we’ll let you be the judge. When Bargnani was healthy, the Knicks scored 100.8 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor. Since Bargnani went down with an elbow injury, they’ve averaged 126.

  • [ESPN.com – New York Knicks] Melo: 'I support' what La La said (Wed, 29 Jan 2014 00:09:23 EDT)

    NEW YORK — La La Anthony made headlines earlier this week when she said that her husband, Carmelo Anthony, would “definitely” re-sign with the Knicks. So what was Carmelo’s reaction?”That’s my wife. I support her. I support what she said. I don’t think she said anything wrong,” Anthony said. “It’s a good thing for her to say that. Go get the book, though.”La La Anthony said in an interview with Bravo TV’s “Watch What Happens Live” to promote her book, “The Playbook,” that she thinks Anthony, a free agent to-be, will end up back in New York.

  • [ESPN.com – New York Knicks] Notebook: K-Mart OK after ankle scare (Wed, 29 Jan 2014 00:00:32 EDT)

    NEW YORK — Kenyon Martin returned from a five-game absence to rest his troublesome left ankle only to roll it on Tuesday night in his return against the Celtics. Martin played nine minutes and looked like he was feeling good with six points, one rebound, one block and one rim-shaking dunk before rolling his left ankle. He did not play after the injury but said he sat out for precautionary reasons and will be play Thursday against the Cavaliers.

  • [New York Times] Randolph Leads Grizzlies Past Blazers 98-81 (Wed, 29 Jan 2014 08:03:02 GMT)

    Zach Randolph scored 23 points and had 10 rebounds and Mike Conley added 19 points and seven assists to lead the Memphis Grizzlies to a 98-81 victory against the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night.    

  • [New York Times] League-Leading Pacers Hold Off Lakers 104-92 (Wed, 29 Jan 2014 06:47:57 GMT)

    Paul George missed 17 of his 21 shots, including everything he tried in the fourth quarter. The rest of the Indiana Pacers were similarly tired and erratic on the last stop on their five-game road trip.    

  • [New York Times] Beal, Wall Lead Wizards Past Warriors 88-85 (Wed, 29 Jan 2014 06:12:30 GMT)

    Bradley Beal scored 18 of his 20 points in the second half, and John Wall had 15 points and eight rebounds to lead the Washington Wizards past the Golden State Warriors 88-85 on Tuesday night.    

  • [New York Times] Rockets Rally for Win Over Spurs (Wed, 29 Jan 2014 05:53:17 GMT)

    Dwight Howard scored 23 points, and the host Houston Rockets held on for a 97-90 win over the San Antonio Spurs.    

  • [New York Times] Lakers’ Kobe Bryant Expected to Miss All-Star Game (Wed, 29 Jan 2014 05:20:56 GMT)

    Kobe Bryant is expected to miss the NBA All-Star game due to continued pain and swelling in his injured left knee.    

  • [New York Times] Knicks 114, Celtics 88: Knicks Are Tough to Figure Out, and on This Night, Tough to Stop (Wed, 29 Jan 2014 03:55:23 GMT)

    The Knicks led by as many as 35 points and shot 53.7 percent in their third straight victory after a five-game losing streak.    

  • [New York Times] Knicks Avenge Blowout Loss to Celtics With a Rout (Wed, 29 Jan 2014 03:15:11 GMT)

    Carmelo Anthony had 24 points and nine rebounds in just 28 minutes, and the New York Knicks avenged an embarrassing home loss with a rout of their own, beating the Boston Celtics 114-88 on Wednesday night for their third straight victory.    

  • [New York Times] Pistons Stop Skid With Win Over Magic (Wed, 29 Jan 2014 03:11:56 GMT)

    Andre Drummond had 13 points and 17 rebounds, and the host Detroit Pistons snapped a four-game losing streak with a 103-87 win over the Orlando Magic.    

  • [New York Times] Davis Dominates as Pelicans Beat Cavaliers (Wed, 29 Jan 2014 02:45:02 GMT)

    Anthony Davis scored 30 points and had eight blocks and seven rebounds to lead the New Orleans Pelicans to a 100-89 win over the host Cleveland Cavaliers.    

  • [New York Post] Shumpert lost to sprained right shoulder (Wed, 29 Jan 2014 05:40:57 -0500)

    Iman Shumpert was the lone Knick who had played in all 45 games this season. That streak will end. Shumpert sprained his right shoulder late in the first quarter of…

  • [New York Post] Melo appears to second wife’s staying in NY comments (Wed, 29 Jan 2014 01:20:57 -0500)

    In perhaps his strongest comment since early November regarding his free-agent future, Carmelo Anthony appeared Tuesday night to second his wife La La's remarks from the previous day. In promoting…

  • [New York Post] Tanking is not an option for these Knicks (Wed, 29 Jan 2014 01:16:47 -0500)

    A lifetime of habit invites happiness whenever those uniforms are getting tire tracks driven across them, right? You look down on the floor and you see those road green vestments,…

  • [New York Post] Knicks’ Kenyon Martin sprains ankle – again (Wed, 29 Jan 2014 01:10:50 -0500)

    Maybe, just maybe, the Knicks' health fortunes were changing. Kenyon Martin, who sprained his left ankle in Indiana in the same game as did Amar'e Stoudemire, was back and ready…

  • [New York Newsday] Carmelo Anthony supports wife saying she thinks he will stay (Wed, 29 Jan 2014 00:10:56 EST)

    Carmelo Anthony wasn't going to go against something his wife said.

  • Game Preview & Thread: Celtics at Knicks

    The New York Knicks face off with the Boston Celtics at 7:30 tonight at MSG. They go up against a scrappy, but still pretty terrible, Celtics team and to get a better idea of what the Knicks were in for tonight I brought in John Karalis of Red’s Army and Tom Westerholm of CelticsHub. Enjoy!

    The Celtics have won just 2 of their last 16 games. What has been the team’s biggest problem(s)? Also, how can the Knicks capitalize on them?

    John: The biggest problem is that they’re not very good.  Let’s just get that out there from the start.  They have players that could be good.  They have players that will improve over time (we hope), but right now, the guys that are out there on a regular basis aren’t very good. You’ll see plenty of times Rajon Rondo will find guys open for good looks that just won’t go down.  The Celtics don’t capitalize on every opportunity they get right now. That’s the reason the Celtics blow big leads.  They don’t have anyone who can consistently drain run-stopping shots.  “Every team makes a run” becomes “Every team’s run can last a full quarter” against the Celtics.

    So the Knicks need to first not take the Celtics for granted.  If they simply attack the boards and clean up the Celtics misses, they can get out in transition, exploit mismatches, and slowly build a big lead. I will caution teams, though:  Do not coast against the C’s.  They CAN get hot.  They have built 15+ point leads quite often. Their problem is that they blow those leads.  But if the Knicks coast and settle for long jumpers, Rondo and Phil Pressey will both gladly push the tempo and make teams pay for laziness.

    Tom:  It’s a cop out answer, but the biggest problem has simply been a lack of talent. You may or may not have heard, but the Celtics kind of suck, even for the Eastern Conference. The Knicks can capitalize by being a little bit less awful. Even if Carmelo Anthony is defended well by Brandon Bass (which we’ll get to), the Knicks have so many more offensive weapons — and the Celtics historically have struggled so badly with the Felton/Chandler PnR — that it’s pretty hard to imagine Boston winning.

    I know it’s only been five games, but is Rajon Rondo’s play thus far worrisome?

    John: Not at all.  He’s not shooting well at all, but he’s only been back a couple of weeks from a yearlong ACL recovery.  I wouldn’t expect him to come in and pick right up where he left off.  His minutes have been limited, he’s got a new coach, and he’s got new teammates.  An adjustment period is to be expected. He can still pass, though, and he’s made some great ones.  Once guys know what to expect, they’ll catch more passes cleanly, and they’ll finish a higher percentage.  I’ve said from the beginning that the post-All Star break Celtics will probably be a lot better than the pre-break Celtics, and I still believe that to be true.

    Tom: No, not at all. He’s rusty, he’s still working himself back into shape, and he doesn’t quite trust his knee yet. Where old Rondo would have planted and changed direction on a dime, current Rondo looks hesitant and a little nervous to test the body part that made him miss a year of basketball. This is all extremely normal for an ACL injury, and frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t look like himself for the rest of the year.

    This is all completely fine: He isn’t needed until next year anyway, and (from a cold-hearted, dickish perspective) it may drive his market price down in free agency. Meanwhile, his jumper looks a little improved, and he appears to be looking for his own shot. If the Celtics plan to rebuild around him, these are encouraging signs.

    The Celtics are struggling to score this season, but which player would you say the Knicks are going to have the most problems defending?  How should the Knicks go about limiting him offensively?

    John: Well, Rondo is the obvious matchup to watch.  If he can get into the paint, then he can have flashes of his former self.  Again, if the Knicks get lazy and their rotations are slow, there’s nothing that will stop a great point guard from finding guys for layups. Beyond that, keeping Jared Sullinger off the boards is probably your biggest defensive concern. He has a knack for getting in there and keeping possessions alive.  Same with Kris Humphries, who has played pretty well for the Celtics of late; they will hurt teams by getting after their own misses.

    Tom: *thinking* *thinking….* *still thinking…….* Jared Sullinger is probably the best offensive player on this squad, but he has been playing through an injured hand, which has limited his efficiency. Jeff Green is probably the best answer. When he’s engaged and aggressive, he’s dangerous, and the Knicks don’t have a natural foil for him. The best option is probably Iman Shumpert, who is quick and aggressive enough to drive Green nuts, but Green is considerably taller and longer than Shump.

    But Green has struggled with consistency all year in the primary scorer’s role. Asking him to consistently be the number one option without Pierce and Garnett to deflect defensive attention has been a tall task.

    Even though the Celtics are struggling on offense, their DRtg is still a respectable 14th in the league. What are the team’s strengths defensively? Should we expect a lot of Brandon Bass on Melo? 

    John: Bass has done a very good job guarding top-notch wings.  He is surprisingly effective against Melo, and he’s had some good stints against LeBron James.  Melo won’t be able to post Bass, and Bass has no problem muscling Melo out on the wing, so yes, I’d expect plenty of that. The Celtics are doing a decent job of forcing jump shots by sagging on screens and preventing whole scale breakdowns on D. They have a tendency to be a little overly aggressive if teams move the ball around and force rotations.

    But they’re doing all right defending the pick-and-roll, which is obviously a big thing in the NBA.  If a team wants to work hard, they can break the C’s defense down with ball movement, but teams tend not to want to work that hard to beat a bad team.

    Tom: Rookie head coach Brad Stevens has placed a lot of emphasis on stopping the ball at the point of attack on the perimeter. This is big for the Celtics because A) They have good perimeter defenders (see: Avery Bradley, Jeff Green when he wants to be, Gerald Wallace at times, etc.) and B) Their rim protection consists of Kris Humphries, Jared Sullinger and Brandon Bass. Stevens is notorious for being a film geek who pours over hours of footage, so you can be sure he has seen the small amounts of success Brandon Bass has had on Melo. I would definitely expect to see some of that matchup.

    So, how do you think the game plays out?

    John: I don’t go into many games expecting wins by the Celtics right now.  If the Knicks play up to their capabilities, they can slowly build a comfortable lead and win.  But I’ve seen an undisciplined Knicks team this season that seems to gladly coast when they feel like they can. There’s nothing schedule-wise that suggests this should be a trap game for the Knicks.  There’s no reason for them to be lazy.  But there’s a part of me that expects this year’s Knicks to make life way too hard. The Celtics have a history this season of burning better teams that take them lightly.

    I wouldn’t be shocked to see another 10-2 run to start the game for Boston.  From there, it’s up to New York to decide if they’re better than their record, or if they’re really the team just a couple spots ahead of the Celtics on the outside of the playoff picture.

    Tom: It’s one thing for a team to have the best player on the floor. It’s something else entirely for them to have 3-4 of the best players on the floor, and with Jared Sullinger’s hand injury, Avery Bradley’s sprained ankle, Rajon Rondo’s incremental recovery and Jeff Green’s inconsistent play, the talent disparity is pretty substantial.

    That said, Boston often plays well for three and a half quarters before losing with style, so don’t be surprised if this comes down to the last two minutes. Also don’t be surprised if the Celtics lose by 40. This team is really bad.