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Sunday, August 18, 2019

2015-16 Recap: Knicks 87, Pacers 92

Sorry I’m pulling a “better late than never” recap on you guys today. I won’t bore you with the details of why I couldn’t do this yesterday, but rest assured that family obligations can indeed set fire to an entire day’s worth of time. I barely even got to watch the game as it was played, and just finally got the chance to watch the replay.

The Knicks played sans Melo, so my optimism for kicking the Pacers out of the playoffs was already compromised at tip-off. But I’ve gotta say, I’m proud of how the team competed, particularly in coming back from a 9-point deficit to tie the game in the 4th quarter. They showed some late-season grit that they frankly have no incentive to have beyond competitive pride, and even in this dwindling season, it made the game a lot more entertaining to watch. It was the kind of game nobody could really blame you for bailing on at halftime; the Knicks had been out scored 36-18 in the 2nd quarter and were down 13 at the half. But fans who stuck around were rewarded with a close finish, albeit with the same result as many of the close games this season.

It occurred to me while watching this that the difference in making the playoffs and floundering not to another season with 50+ losses is this team’s late game execution. Having only one player who can consistently create his own shot is a serious detriment to any 4th quarter offense, but compounded with the lack of penetration from the guards, it resulted in some really glaring spacing issues that haunted the Knicks throughout the year. I’m physically assaulting a deceased horse here, but even a marginal improvement in guard play and the development of Kristaps coupled with the signing of a consistent scoring option would make a world of difference.

Since this is already late I’ll keep it briefer than I usually do, plus I’m writing on my phone and without a keyboard I am useless. Seriously, I want a slide-out keyboard again, the touchscreen is not a good gadget for long-form writing. We only have four games left, and Jerian Grant should get the chance to start them all and give us a look at what he’s got to offer the team going forward. He is perhaps the only player the Knicks have on a cheap rookie contract that has some upside. Cleanthony Early is an interesting prospect returning from his injury, and I’d like to see him get a good run to finish the year as well. I liked him a lot coming out of Wichita State, simply as a gamer who could put the ball in the bucket in big moments. The Knicks desperately need more of that, because relying on Carmelo has proven to be a pretty poor strategy for closing out games lately, at least when he isn’t spelled by another threat. Yes, Kristaps has done his part in some games, but he hasn’t really exhibited much in the way of the clutch gene in his rookie year. Granted, he wasn’t given a lot of opportunities to come up big in late game situations; he was often left on the bench by Fisher at the end of games, and he hasn’t quite been given the freedom to go one-on-one with just a few minutes left. We’re not likely to see Zingis Khan again this year, no matter what he says about wanting to play again before the season ends, but if he does, I would like to see him have the offense run through him at the end of a game.

Alright, I’m outta things to say. Take it easy today, everyone, and enjoy the best month in sports. We’ve already had a buzzer beater to win the NCAA championship and baseball’s opening day, The Master’s starts on Thursday and the NBA Playoffs, NHL Playoffs and the NFL Draft also happens before the month ends.

Man, I love this time of year.

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20 comments on “2015-16 Recap: Knicks 87, Pacers 92

  1. ptmilo

    It occurred to me while watching this that the difference in making the playoffs and floundering not to another season with 50+ losses is this team’s late game execution. Having only one player who can consistently create his own shot is a serious detriment to any 4th quarter offense, but compounded with the lack of penetration from the guards, it resulted in some really glaring spacing issues that haunted the Knicks throughout the year.

    I know this seems plausible, but I don’t think it really explains our particular shitty team. The Knicks actually have a better offensive rating in late close games (last 5 minutes, within 5 pts) than overall (21st vs 24th). Their TS% in these situations is 13th in the league (vs 24th overall). It’s actually the defense that’s (relatively) worse than usual in crunch time.

  2. DRed

    Also, we were decent late game under Fisher and have collapsed with Rambis, but I don’t know enough to say there’s a causation. I mean, this team just isn’t that talented

  3. Erik Judd Post author

    Oh I agree that the defense is certainly a big part of the 4th quarter woes, but an above-average (or even average) offense would help set said defense up.

    We all know that defense is easier to set up and scheme following a made basket, since a miss is often similar to a turnover depending on the positioning of players at the time of the shot. Too many times the Knicks are caught with their pants down following a missed shot because everyone is just standing around, and the leak-out baskets after missed shots kill the defensive strategy.

    Fisher handled the situations in late games better, there’s no denying that, but come on. A blind kangaroo could coach better than Mr. Rambis

  4. lavor postell

    Bigger issue is both Rambis and Fisher’s fascination with playing small and matching up with other teams’ lineups rather than playing to our strengths down the stretch. Our small lineups with KP at the 5 especially struggle unless they’re on fire offensively because of how awful we are at not just getting stops, but clearing the glass when KP is anchoring the defense.

    Another problem is simply that our guard play is atrocious and can’t get the team in to proper sets under any modicum of ball pressure. If you want to punish yourself check out the 4th quarter against Dallas. Galloway, Grant, Vujacic and Afflalo took turns taking damn near the full 8 seconds bringing the ball past halfcourt and then not even getting the team in to a set until there was 12-13 seconds left on the clock.

    When you can’t break pressure off the dribble from the likes of Barea and Felton then you’ve got no chance. Grant’s left hand dribble is weak and a major weakness for him, while Galloway doesn’t have a great handle and frankly plays timid when he’s operating as the primary ball handler. Vujacic is athe one guard we have that brings the ball up with pace and gets us in to sets quickly, but when the defense picks up their pressure he can’t break it and Afflalo does not break anybody down off the dribble.

    Combine that with our ability to look lost in any high PNR situation defensively in 4th quarters and you’ve got a recipe for bad 4th quarter play on both ends. Get a guard or wing that can break on ball pressure and it would open up a lot of things for us throughout the game, but especially in the 4th quarter where the most creation we get is usually from Melo passing out of a post up or iso where he gets doubled.

    None of this is to excuse Rambis or Fish’s issues, but if you give limited coaches limited guard talent you can only mask the issues for so long and in so many ways.

  5. KnickfaninNJ

    Since we’re often behind in late game situations I would expect our coaches to emphasize offense over defense at that time. The fact that our offense gets better and our defuse gets worse in those situations suggests that our coaches are actually doing what they should; even though that’s hard to believe.

  6. where is your god now ruruland

    there’s almost no point in wasting time talking about this deficiencies of this team since by the time this team becomes good, 10 of the 12 players will be different

  7. yellowboy90

    Anyone think playing Jose and AA on defense late had anything to do with the poor rating? There was so many games I sat wondering why Fisher didn’t go offense/defense subbing Gallo and Lance in on D. He eventually did start doing that but Rambis kind of went back to not doing it. Part of that is lance has been out but Jose should not been on defense.

  8. yellowboy90

    On another note has Josh Richardson made Tyler Johnson expendable? I wonder if a small S&T could get him out of Miami.

  9. Brian Cronin

    I don’t believe so. They’re restricted free agents with artificially deflated contracts, so why let them go now?

  10. massive

    I’m just counting the days down until Boston, New York, and Cleveland pull off the mega trade of the century. Melo and Lopez to Cleveland, Love to Boston, Irving, Crowder, and the Brooklyn pick (which turns into Jamal Murray) to New York.

    How crazy would that be? I think I’d cry tears of joy if we pulled that off.

  11. massive

    But Wade, Richardson, and Johnson will all be Miami Heat basketball players next season. Whiteside either signs in Los Angeles, Houston, or Boston, though.

  12. yellowboy90

    @11

    You are probably right but I said the same thing about O’Quinn before FA and he was traded. Orl didn’t like Kyle’s practice habits though so he was expendable.

  13. Brian Cronin

    You are probably right but I said the same thing about O’Quinn before FA and he was traded. Orl didn’t like Kyle’s practice habits though so he was expendable.

    But the Heat actively like Johnson, ya know?

  14. JK47

    Want to read something depressing?

    Go check out the lead story on ESPN right now, “Sources: Phil Jackson pushing for Knicks to keep Kurt Rambis”

    Ready to go to war next season with Kurt Rambis as your full-time coach, Knickerblogger faithful? Exciting times, huh?

  15. JK47

    This is just the most eternally lame team to root for. It’s like every time you think you’ve seen the bottom of the barrel, it turns out there’s just another barrel buried underneath that barrel.

  16. Brian Cronin

    I wonder what day Rambis will sign his new contract, as that will be the first day of the comments here saying “Well, maybe Rambis isn’t so bad. Let’s give Jackson another year before we pass any judgments.”

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