Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Escaping a Brutal Reality

It was a dazzling scene. Roars of applause rained down in Madison Square Garden, the joyous New York Knicks fans collectively rejoicing a historic victory. The cheers were so ear-deafening, they shook the Earth below with such ferocity I felt the ground tremble before my feet, despite my being a good 10 miles away, watching the spectacle at home on my television.

“And the Knicks have done it! They move on to the Eastern Conference Finals after falling behind 3-1 to the Indiana Pacers with three convincing blowouts.”

Mike Breen’s ecstatic voice captured this moment perfectly, you could hear the electricity in his enthused voice.

“Jeff, what did the Knicks do to swing what looked like a lost series in their direction?”

“Well Mike, they went back to what won them fifty games this season. They played at a slow pace and didn’t give away the ball on offense. Anthony was making his open catch-and-shoot looks, while Felton ran unstoppable pick-and-rolls with Tyson Chandler.”

“Speaking of Tyson Chandler, he was a major factor in New York’s comeback.”

“Yes, Chandler returned to his Defensive Player of the Year form, providing an impenetrable inside presence and completely shutting down Roy Hibbert. His defense was so strong the Knicks found no need to double onto the Pacers bigs, even while playing their dominant small ball lineup.”

“You mention their small ball lineup, they ran it to perfection all season long. However Mike Woodson went big in Game 4 of this series to try and counteract their rebounding woes, but it did not work out as they planned. Once he went back to the original starting five in Game 5, what changed for the Knicks?”

“Mike, the greatest of coaches know that the goal is not to adjust to your opponent’s strategy, but to make your opponent adjust. The Pacers have two prototypical bigs up front, and when the Knicks started Kenyon Martin over Pablo Prigioni in Game 4 they played right into Indiana’s hands. New York forced Frank Vogel to have to adjust to the Knicks terrific spacing and ball movement on offense, but he could not find an answer. Adding another big body onto the court won’t solve your rebounding problem, it’s about a collective effort and remembering to box out on every possession. The Knicks did that for three games in a row, and here they are.”

“You brought up Pablo Prigioni. Despite being one of the most reliable players on this team throughout the postseason, he found very little time on the court during this series. How much of an impact did he bring once coach Woodson decided to play him for significant minutes?”

“Well he along with Iman Shumpert have arguably been two of the Knicks most important piece in these Playoffs, yet did not play enough minutes to make a stronger positive impact on the games in the first ten contests of the Knicks’ Playoff run. In these past three wins, Woodson played each for thirty minutes a night. Doing so, he reduced the playing time of the inefficient Jason Kidd and J.R. Smith dramatically, which proved to be a great move. Shumpert was able to discomfort the rising Paul George, while Prigioni remianed his stingy self, forcing turnovers and making the open three. Kidd and Smith have been struggling throughout these Playoffs, unable to get rolling on the offensive end and not doing much better on defense. Woodson also took minutes away from the rusty Amar’e Stoudemire and gave his floor time to rookie Chris Copeland, who provided floor spacing with his knock-down three point shooting.”

“Copeland was certainly a huge help for the Knicks coming off the bench. How much of this do you feel falls on the Indiana Pacers?”

“Well simply put, Indiana is out-matched on paper. Talent wise, the Knicks are better than the Indiana Pacers. However, for the first four games of the series, it was the Pacers who played as a team while the Knicks were scrambling, running isolations to no end and not putting up any effort on the boards. The Knicks played like a team during the regular season, one bent on smart passing and a methodical, slow approach. It was only in Game 5 and beyond when they went back to their winning ways, and once they did the Pacers stood no chance. Their offense has been poor all season long, and once the Knicks figured out their league-best defense – torching the sagging Hibbert on pick-and-rolls, not attacking him head on when driving into the paint and getting Melo lots of space to work one-on-one against defenders that truly had no shot – they were able to run Indiana out of the gym in three straight affairs.”

“And what a three games it was. This has been Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy, thank you for watching. We’ll see you on Monday for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Fina- David!”

Huh?

“David, come on!”

I closed my eyes firmly for a couple of seconds, opened them again, and suddenly I was facing my ceiling. Wait, what? I was laying down on my bed. How? Wasn’t I just standing a foot away from my TV? I sat up, dripping in sweat.

“David you’re going to be late to school. Oh God, did you have a nightmare?”

It was Mom leaning through my open door. I looked at her, then down at my soaking self, then back at her. Once it finally clicked, I jumped out of my bed and quickly slammed my computer out of sleep mode.

“E..S..P..N..dot…com.”

I stared deeply into my screen. There’s no way. It couldn’t be. It had to have happened.

“Pacers Take Game 4, Lead Series 3-1″

Shit.

22 comments on “Escaping a Brutal Reality

  1. Hubert Davis

    This is kind of cruel because the scenario you are describing could so easily happen yet we know our coach won’t give it the chance to.

  2. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    I really thought this somehow was going to be about those three Cleveland girls, but it turned out to be about a professional basketball team losing a game. Eh.

  3. Die_Hard_Knick_Fan

    Hubert Davis:
    This is kind of cruel because the scenario you are describing could so easily happen yet we know our coach won’t give it the chance to.

    Exactly! I don’t know what the hell Woody is thinking on that bench. He needs to reel his team together and understand the situation. Except he’s not going to. I’ll be surprised if he changes anything tomorrow for game 5. It’s been the most entertaining season since ’00, but damn, what a disappointing end it’s looking like.

  4. stratomatic

    Look on the bright side, it’s only 2 more years until they can blow up this mess of past their prime medicare candidates, ball stoppers, players with behavioral disorders that no one else wants, and low IQ scorers etc… and go about it the right way (which is what they were doing for awhile).

    By then, Shumpert will be a legitimate 2 way star. Hopefully they’ll strike gold in the draft and can start over with young players with upside, cap space flexibility, desirable trade assets, draft picks etc.. and grow together while adding needed pieces along the way.

    Somehow I doubt they will do it right.

    I mean why should I expect them to do it right when the same idiots that built this mess will still be in charge.

  5. JK47

    stratomatic:
    Look on the bright side, it’s only 2 more years until they can blow up this mess of past their prime medicare candidates, ball stoppers, players with behavioral disorders that no one else wants, and low IQ scorers etc… and go about it the right way (which is what they were doing for awhile).

    By then, Shumpert will be a legitimate 2 way star. Hopefully they’ll strike gold in the draft and can start over with young players with upside, cap space flexibility, desirable trade assets, draft picks etc.. and grow together while adding needed pieces along the way.

    Somehow I doubt they will do it right.

    I mean why should I expect them to do it right when the same idiotsthat built this mess will still be in charge.

    The Knicks are like the Omar Minaya Mets, except there’s no Sandy Alderson ever coming to commit to the long, painful process of building from scratch. It’s just a whole lifetime of Omar Minaya.

  6. Frank

    JK47: The Knicks are like the Omar Minaya Mets, except there’s no Sandy Alderson ever coming to commit to the long, painful process of building from scratch. It’s just a whole lifetime of Omar Minaya.

    To be fair — Grunwald has done an amazing job since he’s gotten here. Drafted Shump, found Lin, Copeland, Novak, and Prigs. And even though JR has been horrible the last 2 weeks, he’s been playing on a contract that is well under-market.

    I still think there’s a sliver of a chance we somehow win 3 in a row, but assuming we don’t, this will be a VERY interesting offseason.

    – does Kidd retire? (please say yes)
    – does Camby retire? (please say yes)
    – does Cope resign here? (please say yes)
    – does Prigs re-up or leave the States in disgust? (please say no but I wouldn’t blame him)
    – what does JR get? what is he worth? (worth full Early Bird x 2 years)
    – who do we draft? (show me ANY 2-way player)
    – if we lose in 5 games and it looks to the world like Woodson is just out of his depth here, do we make a coaching change? (zero chance, but one can only hope)

  7. flossy

    I can’t help but wonder what might have been if Melo had hit one of the two FTs he missed near the end of game 4 in Boston. What if we’d been able to win that game in regulation and cleanly sweep the Celtics, instead of choking in overtime and giving away the next game to start a death spiral of poor health and poor play?

  8. er

    flossy: I can’t help but wonder what might have been if Melo had hit one of the two FTs he missed near the end of game 4 in Boston. What if we’d been able to win that game in regulation and cleanly sweep the Celtics, instead of choking in overtime and giving away the next game to start a death spiral of poor health and poor play?

    That sounds tidy and all but it started with the smith suspension, not fts.

  9. flossy

    er: That sounds tidy and all but it started with the smith suspension, not fts.

    There’s no way to know, but I think choking away a very, very winnable game 4 is what set us on a bad course. I guess if JR came back for Game 1 of the Pacers series as fucked-up as he’s been since game 5 in Boston, we’d be in a bad situation no matter what, but I do think that losing games 4 and 5 threw this team way out of whack.

  10. Nick C.

    Frank: To be fair — Grunwald has done an amazing job since he’s gotten here. Drafted Shump, found Lin, Copeland, Novak, and Prigs.

    Too bad the coach doesn’t see it that way.

  11. er

    flossy: There’s no way to know, but I think choking away a very, very winnable game 4 is what set us on a bad course. I guess if JR came back for Game 1 of the Pacers series as fucked-up as he’s been since game 5 in Boston, we’d be in a bad situation no matter what, but I do think that losing games 4 and 5 threw this team way out of whack.

    yea you are right……i cant believe how mad i am. Like i have never been so upset a coach man. Why is he so stubborn? He should have been trying to work in novak and copeland since at the latest game 3. Indianas offense is so terrible, but yet he insists we play into the hands of the great D. He shoulda started cope yesterday to give the team more offense, the game was lost in the first Q as usual

  12. nyk8806

    Frank: To be fair — Grunwald has done an amazing job since he’s gotten here. Drafted Shump, found Lin, Copeland, Novak, and Prigs. And even though JR has been horrible the last 2 weeks, he’s been playing on a contract that is well under-market.

    You named the gems and I think he did an admirable job given the cap limitations imposed by his predecessors, but on the flipside GG gambled on signing a slew of “veterans” who “know” how to win a championship. I can’t really fault the concept, but I don’t buy that it’s all just bad luck that they all got hurt/played ineffectively–these are old dudes whose best years are well behind them. The very real downside played out exactly as it could have been predicted: Kidd had a great start, but is washed up as can be in crunch time. Sheed hadn’t been in NBA shape in 2 years and didn’t last long enough to contribute meaningfully when it mattered. Ol’ Crazy Eyes did an admirable job but also succumbed to his age. KMart was a nice bandaid and instrumental in supplying minutes when Tyson was hurt, but when it comes down to it, it should be no surprise that a guy who was watching TV on his couch a few months ago hasn’t been able to be a savior against playoff-quality big men. Camby is a husk of his former self that is glued to the bench (side note: we got him for Jorts, TD, and Jerome Jordan–all of whom might actually have been useful this series).

    Woodson still deserves most of the blame because of his dumb decision-making, followed by the players to varying degrees for failing to execute, but GG is not beyond reproach. Bottom line: FIRE DOLAN.

  13. er

    I also have to give credit to Indys role players i suppose. Stephenson and Hill were huge yesterday. Both times we got inside 10 points stephenson hit a cold blooded three. And you know George Hill was Isaiah with a J last night. Like i said yesterday Indys starting frontcourt was something like 11-36 and they still won comfortably. Nice if our role players can make shots tommorow

  14. GHenman

    Is Camby hurt or in the doghouse? Seems like he is more in the doghouse to me, but I have no idea why.

  15. Nick C.

    GHenman:
    Is Camby hurt or in the doghouse?Seems like he is more in the doghouse to me, but I have no idea why.

    Monday afternoon on one of the NY radio shows I heard them saying he got testy when asked about playing Camby saying something along the lines of “we’ve got enough big men I can’t play 13 guys”. If he had a hard on for rebounds and the occasional jump shot going in Camby is better at that than Kenyon (or Tyson). Maybe Woodson is following orders from above on who and how much to play people.

  16. Hubert Davis

    I feel like we are living out some modern sports fan version of Moby Dick. All of us are crew members of The Pequod. Our Captain Ahab has become obsessed with the rebounding advantage of the Pacers and he’s bringing the whole ship down to catch that whale/negate their rebounding advantage. And we all know that a) you will never catch the whale/outrebound the Pacers, and b) you don’t need to.

    This would be gold in Silverman’s hands.

  17. Juany8

    Guys, the biggest adjustments Woodson has made this series all came in game 4. You saw how that turned out. Now he’s supposed to adjust again, only this time doing it properly? This is a guy who thought Playing Kenyon Martin and Jason Kidd more would help his team’s chances of scoring, then started double teaming more than ever even though Indiana has no hope of scoring in the half court against the Knicks. I don’t think the Knicks will show up tomorrow, teams in this scenario tend to bomb out of the playoffs more often than not.

  18. er

    Juany8: Guys, the biggest adjustments Woodson has made this series all came in game 4. You saw how that turned out. Now he’s supposed to adjust again, only this time doing it properly? This is a guy who thought Playing Kenyon Martin and Jason Kidd more would help his team’s chances of scoring, then started double teaming more than ever even though Indiana has no hope of scoring in the half court against the Knicks. I don’t think the Knicks will show up tomorrow, teams in this scenario tend to bomb out of the playoffs more often than not.

    nah they will win by 10+ tommorow and lose in 6

  19. er

    The key to this series has been simple to me. Limit the role players.
    Game 1 – DJ Augustine went for 16, stephenson when for 13 and 13
    Game 4- Hill 26, stephenson big 3s

  20. johnlocke

    Isn’t Prigioni one of our best defensive guards? Ay-ya-yi. Also double West but not Hibbert. If we lose b/c Hibbert scores 30 on Tyson, so be it, but if i see anymore wide open threes from the Pacers….

    er:
    The key to this series has been simple to me. Limit the role players.
    Game 1 – DJ Augustine went for 16, stephenson when for 13 and 13
    Game 4- Hill 26, stephenson big 3s

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