Welp fellow Knickerbloggers,
I’ll admit it. I’m stuck somewhere between maintaining my perspective, one that values baby steps, and a ‘meet the new Knicks–same as the old Knicks’ cynicism. I watched the game in Columbia with friends and colleagues at a local eatery. One charming but frustrating thing about Columbia, South Cackalack is that it is truly a college sports town. At one point during the first half, the good people at the Wild Wing Cafe changed the big screen in our section from Knicks-Celtics to the LSU-Mississippi softball game, which was 7-0 at the time. Mind you, Boston’s lead was less than 10 when the TV changed to softball. My beloved Knicks, playing a home playoff game for the first time since I was a much younger and thinner man, were unceremoniously replaced on the big screen by a blowout softball game–and by SEC softball at that, when everyone knows that Pac10 softball is the only softball worth watching. The channel change squashed that last little bit of I-dare-not-speak-it hope. (“If Amare can–oh, he has no lift. Well then, maybe Melo–oh, he looks completely exhausted. I guess I’ll sit here, watch the game on this much smaller screen, eat my blah fish tacos, and like it.”)
And so it would be that Boston, a team that struggles to contain offenses that spaces the floor, found itself facing a club with no spacing, no point guard to create spacing, one hobbled superstar, and one would-be superstar who looked like he’d dropped his entire load in the previous game. Like the championship caliber hunters they are, the Cs quickly de-fanged our beloved Knicks and began leisurely picking at the bleeding carcass. (A quick aside on the Cs: one freaky-but-marvelous thing about Boston’s core is how healthy they have remained at playoff time every year. I’m not sure of the precise combo of good fortune and toughness but it is impressive.) The bartender, quickly recognizing the unfolding slaughter, wasted little time switching the Knicks off the big screen so as not to miss any of the ESPN lead-in to the (#2) South Carolina-Mississippi State baseball game following softball.
So, to recap. We pretty much stunk, but the Gamecocks were well on their way to a romp when the Knicks game ended. So there’s that. I have the boxscore up and my calculator out but I don’t have the heart to whip up an eFG or TS%. I said to a friend prior to the game that I thought we’d lose a close one on Friday, get a win on Sunday, then lose the next. I hope we get the one win, if for no other reason than spare us all the snark of stupid people who would only take note of the series if it is a sweep. Some of those people work for ESPN.
Some questions to contemplate this off-season:
1. Will D’Antoni be back? I think it’s silly to discuss firing him, and I’ve been fairly critical of the guy. Every NBA coach commits fire-worthy offenses. The question to ponder is, can NY find a self-evident upgrade–one who can work with the core–worth the inevitable transition costs that come with switching regimes?
2. Will Donnie Basketball be back? You would think the guy has done enough to have earned the right to try to put the finishing touches on this roster. Yet, Dolan is unpredictable as we know, and frankly Donnie’s health must be a concern regardless.
3. Whither Landry Fields? I get the concerns about where his shots come from with Melo on the floor, but he’s been missing open looks for some time now and his rebounding seems to have tailed off. I think it is a legitimate question when contemplating the upcoming draft, which if nothing else is chock-full-o’ swingmen. (I will say this on behalf of his defense in this series, I think he’s done the best job of running Ray Allen off shots. Making Ray miss is another matter entirely. Nevertheless, my possibly biased eye sees Ray sinking most of his jumpers over late rotating defenders or over Toney Douglas.)
4. Where can NY find some useful size? Thanks to Gian for talking us back in off the ledge re: Jared Jeffries. He’s a useful piece now that he’s not criminally overpaid. Nevertheless, he and Rony Turiaf are not enough. Finding a Tyson Chandler or a Robin Lopez is probably the biggest challenge for Donnie (or whomever) this off-season. Don’t expect much help from this draft either. Virtually all of the PF/Cs are either undersized or perimeter players.