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Monday, September 1, 2014

If Mike D’Antoni Gets Fired…

… it’s for leaving Jared Jeffries on the floor in the final offensive play in Game 2 against the Celtics. I like D’Antoni as a coach. I think in general it would be a mistake for the Knicks to let such a good coach go. Mainly because the average NBA coach isn’t as good as Mike and there’s always the risk of blowing an entire season (or more) with an unknown. Hiring an NBA coach is like playing Russian Roulette, but with 4 of the 6 chambers filled with bullets. Let’s face it there aren’t many guys a franchise can put on the sidelines and have confidence that the guy in the suit isn’t going to blow it.

But I can’t defend having Jared Jeffries on the floor for the last possession. Not when the Knicks are down a point and need to score. Yes he was 5-6 with four offensive rebounds. However the larger body of Jeffries work (aka his entire NBA career) suggests that type of production is an outlier. Heck it’s a career game for the 6-11 charge-master. You don’t have to go far to find Jeffries’ offensive impotence. He was flat out awful in Game 1. The missed layups and the dropped passes came in the paint with nary a defender in sight. That he seemed to magically transform into Mr. Jeffrightened for 25 minutes didn’t mean that Dr. Jeffryl wasn’t around the corner.

I understand that the number of options was reduced due to injury. But Shawne Williams was the only rational choice at center. It doesn’t even make sense to say New York was worried about playing defense after making the basket. The Knicks have to score to have that problem (and Boston would likely call a time out anyway).

D’Antoni is not a perfect coach. He probably stuck with Jeffries because he doesn’t like to go with cold players off the bench. Or maybe it was a reward for Jeffries’ score on the play before. The wise money is to take what you’ve gotten from a hot Jeffries and walk away from the table. But the Knicks coach doesn’t see thing from that perspective. Should D’Antoni get fired for this? No. I truly hope he’s on the Knicks sideline next year. But if the press and fans can’t let this go, then it’ll be the final nail in the coffin for D’Antoni. That’s because there is no reason Jared Jeffries is on the floor for that final possession.

28 comments on “If Mike D’Antoni Gets Fired…

  1. MoogSM

    Amen. I like D’Antoni, and I think he helped rejuvenate the league with SSOL in Phoenix, but he’s too much like Don Nelson — a creative offensive mind who can squeeze a lot out of odd combinations of players. Like Nelson, he doesn’t win the big games. The way he’s been outclassed by Doc Rivers at the end of these two games has been difficult to watch.

    Yes, it’s hard to find a good head coach, but the Knicks need to hire someone who will stress defense, one of the Lawrence Frank/JVG/Thibodeau types that don’t seem all THAT hard to find. I diidn’t think I’d be saying this, but this just isn’t the team for D’Antoni, and I think the Knicks should cut their losses this offseason. Our realistic goal has to be attracting Chris Paul (or even Deron Williams) after next season, and they’re not going to want to join a team that doesn’t play defense, isn’t sufficiently prepared, and thus isn’t ready to take the next step.

    So I say, somewhat reluctantly: thank D’Antoni for the work he’s put in, and let him go.

  2. Trent Tucker from deep

    I would have preferred to see Melo split the double team and force the action. That our best player wasn’t more involved in a creative offense attack for that last play feels like a big let down.
    Don’t feel like final play from Game 1 or 2 put enough pressure on the refs or the C’s. There was plenty of time, split the double, draw Garnett and bounce pass to Walker or fire out to TD for a jumper. JJ was a head fake away from a bounce pass and dunk to Walker. Its too much to ask him to be offensively creative. He blew that wad on that layup that seemed like it took a half minute from first dribble to ball in the hole.
    Regardless I am proud of these Knicks. These are the guys I expect to see and their effort in the 4th was top notch. A ton of heart. MDA has to get some credit for that. Let’s hope this was a character building experience. Although it wasn’t the Conf. Finals and the caliber of play is lower, this feels like Jordan’s Bulls against Isiah, Lambier, AD and the Microwave. Just have to keep pounding away and create enough separation to not need 1 play to win.
    I mean, no Stat, no big shot, landry like someone put kryptonite in his shorts, walker 0-11, Extra E looking like he needs an EE and we still should have beat these stiffs. Send ‘em all to the Poconos. We can do it. This is bloody cathartic. I need this site right now like some folks need an AA meeting

  3. latke

    I agree that it is indefensible. At best, it’s overthinking — Rivers might not call TO if he saw Williams at center. At worst, it’s just a complete lapse of judgment.

    I felt the decision to take that last timeout in both of these games showed poor judgment. In game one, it left us with Turiaf and Jeffries in the game when we needed a score. Tonight, it took away any chance of getting a last second attempt. The play wasn’t a bad idea, but worst case scenario is you go down the floor, 10 seconds pass, and you don’t find a good shot — then you call timeout, and you have 10 seconds still to work with.

    I think one thing he has to get a good deal of credit for though is the fact that this Knick team has outdone all (except Spree’s) expectations in these two games. The team is clearly loyal to him. They are playing their asses off.

  4. Trent Tucker from deep

    Yeah they are. I am really happy about the effort. Somebody get Stat some Ben Gay

  5. atomicswerve

    I guess you’re right, Mike. Good coaches are hard to find, and D’Antoni is a good coach. Still, I was calling for his head last night. Shawne has to be in on that possession (and didn’t Coach have a habit of leaving Williams in too much in fourth quarters during the regular season?). And coming out of a timeout, every player on the floor has to be prepared to handle the backcourt inbounds. That’s on Coach too. Oddly, I haven’t seen anything in the press about D’Antoni blowing it.

  6. Caleb

    Worse, it looked like he actually drew up the play for Jeffries.
    http://nbaplaybook.com/2011/04/20/examining-the-knicks-final-possession/

    If the players were X’s or O’s it’s not bad-looking – lots of options, with your best player making the decision. Problem is, it’s Jeffries, not X. The first option looks like a screen and roll w/Anthony and JJ. Stop the insanity. He’s done a nice job guarding Rondo but it’s nothing Anthony Randolph or Renaldo Balkman couldn’t have done. JJ’s contract is up and if he’s making $1 million I’m ok having him on the team, but being on the court in this situation, much less touching the ball, is unbelievable.

  7. GHenman

    Was Turiaf hurt? If not, he would have been a good choice in that situation. I would like to see some different camera angles on that play. Someone had to be wide open.

  8. Caleb

    But hats off to Anthony. Best game of the playoffs for anyone in the league, so far. Maybe Dwight Howard, but he was turning it over. Maybe Chris Paul.

  9. Kikuchiyo

    This post feels like Dolan bait to me. Although I agree that Jeffries should not be on the floor EVER when it is a pure offense substitution opportunity, losing two nail-biters in Boston without key players is not a fire-able offense.

    I probably prefer Landry in that spot because he (in the past at least) is usually smart with the basketball and can get rebounds if something bounces out, but, of course, he’s lost right now. Shawne fits better position-wise (although who needs a center for a one-play offensive possession?), but when have we seen him make a clutch pass or basket late (well, once or twice)? He may also have flubbed the pass.

    If we could make Jake Gyllenhaal the coach and have him play out the final eight seconds again and again, it’s likely that ALL of D’Antoni’s options would fail in this instance.

  10. New Guy

    If this had happened in Game 7, then maybe I could see people calling for his head. But I think this series has a long way to go. I see 5 more compelling, down-to-the-wire games on the horizon, with the C’s ultimately prevailing in 7. He’s not getting fired for anything that happened in game 2.

  11. New Guy

    And guys, Jefferies had a good 4Q. That unit brought us back into and kept us in the game. Williams and Turiaf may have been better options than Walker and Jefferies in isolation, but as a unit those 5 guys (Melo, Jefferies, Douglas, Walker, Mason Jr) were playing better than any other 5 man unit had played in the game. You make a judgement, and MDA decided to stay with them rather than bring in cold players off the bench for the final minute. He’d have been lauded for it if KG missed his last shot and Jefferies GW had stood. But the clock struck midnight and JJ turned into a pumpkin again. I still think MDA made the right call riding that 5-man unit.

  12. gbaked

    I agree 100% New Guy.

    This article is insane. Mike D kept his team in the game when they had no business being in it.

    I dont care if Boston is showing signs of weakness. They are the 3 seed defending EC champs at home during the playoffs. No way Melo+4 should have been in that game.

    It was great play by Melo. Great play by our bench. Great coaching by Mike D.

    Stealing one at Boston would have been nice, but we all knew to win this series we need to sweep at home. That is still on target and in fact is looking better then it did a week ago.

    Enjoy the effort and appreciate the play we just saw. That was a hell of a game.

  13. jon abbey

    gbaked:
    Stealing one at Boston would have been nice, but we all knew to win this series we need to sweep at home. That is still on target and in fact is looking better then it did a week ago.

    except for the part where two of our three best guys are question marks going forward. I’ll be stunned if we take this past five, and wouldn’t be too surprised with a sweep.

  14. Caleb

    I am a huge Rick Adelman fan.

    I generally think D’Antoni is a good coach, and the team has done well against Boston, especially when you factor in the injuries of Game 2. But you can’t deny he has a big blind spot when it comes to Jeffries and having him for the last play was a total head-scratcher. I don’t care if he fumbled some other shots into the net that quarter – he is brutal to watch when he is near the ball.

  15. jon abbey

    I don’t know if the players or the coach are more to blame for the ridiculous mental mistakes, but besides not fouling at the end (!!!!!!!), Douglas’ taking a foul at the end of the first half when he was clearly the one guy on the court who shouldn’t be doing that was stunningly stupid. it’s hard to root for a team that makes such fundamentally dumb plays.

  16. nicos

    I’m not sure how much choice D’A really had- you had to have somebody big enough to set a decent screen in the game in order to get Melo the ball in the first place. Turiaf was hurt so that means either Jeffries, Shawne Williams (who hasn’t exactly inspired a lot of confidence with his play so far and isn’t as good a screener as Jeffries), or a cold Sheldon Williams. It did look like Melo might have been able to go baseline as Baby rotated high but when you have a wide open teammate under the basket you have to make that pass. D’A's play call got Jeffries an open lay up- not the greatest option given Jeffries’ ineptitude around the basket but hardly a fireable offense against a defense as good as the Celtics without two of your first three options.

  17. jon abbey

    OK, I am a big Amare fan, but this team/organization is getting really close to the “too stupid to root for anymore” line:

    “Stoudemire experienced painful spasms in his lower back in the first half of Tuesday’s Game 2 loss in Boston . He said he first felt a problem when he attempted a highlight film-type dunk in warmups before the game, which isn’t something you want to hear from your star player.”

  18. Nick C.

    @ 18 Are you f’in kidding me. I don’t have the words to respond to that (stupidity of how he got hurt not you or your post).

  19. jon abbey

    that would never happen to a Celtic in a million years. here is the next sentence from that article (a Hahn piece from today):

    “I touched the top of the glass with my left hand and dunked it with my right,” he said. “I think that’s when I felt it get tight on me.”

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. Caleb

    nicos:
    I’m not sure how much choice D’A really had- you had to have somebody big enough to set a decent screen in the game in order to get Melo the ball in the first place.Turiaf was hurt so that means either Jeffries, Shawne Williams (who hasn’t exactly inspired a lot of confidence with his play so far and isn’t as good a screener as Jeffries), or a cold Sheldon Williams.It did look like Melo might have been able to go baseline as Baby rotated high but when you have a wide open teammate under the basket you have to make that pass.D’A’s play call got Jeffries an open lay up- not the greatest option given Jeffries’ ineptitude around the basket but hardly a fireable offense against a defense as good as the Celtics without two of your first three options.

    That’s a fair analysis except when your plan ends up with giving the ball to Jeffries, you need to re-think the plan and come up with literally anything else.

  21. Thomas B.

    I think anyone who watched the game was all thinking the same thing when JJ ended up with the ball 12 feet from the basket with a defender in front of him. I for one was screaming “No. No. No.” as he headed for the hoop. He laid it in and I said “Yes, thank God. You got lucky, please do not ever try that again.” F*ck a bullet. When JJ converts on a go-ahead bucket in crunch time, you have dodged a freaking guided missile. So the last possible option had to be JJ in the post.

    Let’s say he got fouled on the move instead of coughing it up. Show of hands, how many think he sinks both free throws? It doesnt matter that I can’t see your hands because none of you would raise them anyway. Point is: he should not have been on the court. A cold Fields or either of the Williams was a better option. Anthony Carter was a better option. Hell Herb Williams was a better option.
    ARGHHHH!! We could be up 2-0 if we could just close out a game.

  22. gbaked

    the fact that everyone is so mad we are not up 2-0 is insane.

    Talk about fluctuating expectations…

    We SHOULD be 0-2.

    We had a chance to steal the games, and thats awesome. But we had no business winning the first two games in boston.

    We lost two of our top 3 players for game two, and people are pissed we lost??? The fact that we were even in the game was awesome. Last night was an amazing basketball game.

    You all really suck. Get over it, enjoy this ride and realize this team is really coming together. This playoffs is all about next season, and that is looking good.

    Enjoy basketball. Seriously… you guys and theknicksblog have made me seriously consider giving up the internet.

    I cant belive there is a post about firing the coach after the team almost had an upset in a game they should have lost by 40 points. INSANE.

  23. Nick C.

    When the Knicks have led with under a minute left in both games it isn’t crazy to bemoan the fact that both wound up as losses irrespective of them being on the road against the defending Conference champs after a decade of bleech.

  24. Z

    jon abbey:
    OK, I am a big Amare fan, but this team/organization is getting really close to the “too stupid to root for anymore” line:

    Geez. That must have been less than an hour after declaring no one on the Celtics can stop him.

  25. jon abbey

    Z: Geez. That must have been less than an hour after declaring no one on the Celtics can stop him.

    EXACTLY! that’s the kind of thing I might expect from a rookie like Blake Griffin, but not a playoff-tested vet like Amare.

  26. Nick C.

    I think all the people that got up in arms about this thread might want to reconsider their criticism since the NY Daily News’ esteemd wrieters and reader poll say the same thing. I think they are bleeping idiots for thinking such a Stephen A. Smithian thing but apparently I am in the minority in that particular circle.

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