Game Thread

2023 Playoffs Round 2 Game Thread: The Ain’t Got Nothing Knicks @ Heat, Game 6

I don’t like repeating Dylan on these things, but, well, I don’t think I can help it, as this one is just far too apropos.

When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose
You’re invisible now, you’ve got no secrets to conceal
How does it feel, ah how does it feel?
To be on your own, with no direction home
Like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone

On Wednesday night, the Knicks played as if they had nothing to lose, and they threw everything at the Heat, with Jalen Brunson and Quentin Grimes both playing all 48 minutes of a big Knicks win. The Heat, meanwhile, did play Jimmy Butler 42 minutes, but they were 42 wobbly minutes (as Early Bird correctly noted, Butler was blocked four times during the game – that’s weird). The Heat otherwise spread its minutes around, and pretty much looked like shit once they cut the lead down to 4 with five or so minutes left, and only some odd turnovers by the Knicks kept the Heat in the game from that point forward (and Spo tried some stupid gimmick shit with Hack-a-Mitch, which Mitch foiled by making 3-4 of his free throws during that stretch. Gee, big fella, if concentrating on your free throws seems to help, maybe do that every time you shoot free throws, okay?).

The Knicks have to do that again tonight, just throw everything they have at the Heat. If Brunson and Grimes have to play the full game again, then whatever, they have to play the full game again. Do whatever it takes. The Heat have to be feeling the pressure. Push up that pressure as much as you can. Don’t let Jimmy Butler beat you (unless Butler plays like he did in Game 5, of course, then you can let him try). Force their other players to come up big. Kevin Love couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn. Make him beat you. Make Spo give Duncan fucking Robinson more minutes. Outwork them again like the Knicks did in Game 5. You ain’t got nothing, Knicks, so you have nothing to lose. Turn up the heat on the Heat.

It won’t matter, as the Heat will obviously win, but hey, imagine if they don’t (they will)? It would be great (it won’t happen…but what if it does? It won’t, but what if? No what if, as they won’t. But maybe? But nope), and we would all feel great (but we won’t).

Even though they are doomed, here’s a perfunctory Let’s Go, Knicks!

Game Thread

2023 Playoffs Round 2 Game Thread: The One Foot in the Grave Knicks vs. Heat, Game 5

In his classic song, “Like a Rolling Stone,” Bob Dylan wrote:

When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose
You’re invisible now, you’ve got no secrets to conceal
How does it feel, ah how does it feel?
To be on your own, with no direction home
Like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone

The Knicks ain’t got nothing heading into a Game 5 at home down 3-1, so they have nothing to lose in this game, so the Knicks really just have to leave it all out there on the court tonight. I bet we see Randle and Brunson both play 40-plus minutes, as the Knicks will try to see if they can match the intensity of the Heat with their own intensity. All season long, the Knicks have had a drive that exceeded their opponents, so it is very disappointing to see that that hasn’t been the case in the second round against the Heat (it definitely was the case against the Cavaliers in the first round. The Cavs must feel like such bums seeing the Knicks get outworked like this, “Holy shit, then how fucking much did we slack off if the team that pantsed us is getting pantsed themselves? And with the guy we fucking just cut for no reason!” That makes me happy, at least.

In the 1997 playoffs, the Knicks held a 3-1 lead heading into a road Game 5 (just like the Heat tonight), and the Heat won that Game 5 before the series was mysteriously called after Game 5, so if the Heat could pull that off, why can’t the Knicks? Look for Isiah Hartenstein to pick up Gabe Vincent at the end of a Knick blowout tonight and throw him to the ground, and then hopefully Bam Adebayo just leaves the bench and shuffles around aimlessly, not even headed towards the fight, and Udonis Haslem keeps the guys next to him from leaving the bench, but doesn’t bother to do so with the, you know, good players on the team (still smarting about that, Buck Williams! It’s no good for you to know not to leave the bench if you can’t stop your teammates from doing so!).

So, in other words, this series is not over. But it is over, of course. However, while the Knicks have no direction in this series, they are home, so having no direction home is not that much of a problem, so that takes us back to the fact that they have nothing left to lose, and, well, it sure would feel great if they could get a win tonight (but they won’t).

But hey, as a complete unknown to the Knicks, I’ll still give them a meaningless Let’s Go, Knicks!

Game Thread

2023 Playoffs Round 2 Game Thread: Why Are Even Bothering? Knicks @ Heat, Game 4

In “Shelter From the Storm,” Bob Dylan sang:

Well, the deputy walks on hard nails and the preacher rides a mount

But nothing really matters much, it’s doom alone that counts

And the one-eyed undertaker, he blows a futile horn

“Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm”

As we all know, with this Knicks team, doom is, in fact, all that counts, and it is what awaits the Knicks in this series.

However, let me just point out something that you might use to take shelter in this storm. The series is only three games in, and the Knicks have won one of those three games. One win tonight and the series is tied. This is far, far from over. Going back to the 1999 NBA Playoffs, which involved the Knicks and the Heat and an unlikely #8 seed having success, the score in Game 1 was the Knicks by 20. Then the Heat won Game 2 by 10. Then the Knicks won Game 3 by 23. Then the Heat won Game 4 by 15. Then the Knicks, of course, won Game 5 (and the series) by one point.

In 1997, the Knicks won Game 4 by 13 to take a 3-1 lead, then the Heat won game 5 by 15 and, well, you know, the rest of the series was canceled for some reason and never finished.

The Suns looked like trash after two games in Denver, and now after two games in Phoenix, are tied 2-2. The Sixers looked like jokes against the Celtics in Games 2 and 3, with people calling James Harden “Ben Simmons,” and then Harden scored 42 points and made the game-winning three-pointer with 18 seconds left in overtime (after first sending the game to overtime in regulation).

The narrative of this series so far is that the Heat have just outclassed the Knicks, and that’s absolutely been true (outside of Quarter 1 in Game 1 and Quarters 3-4 in Game 2), but guess what? Who the fuck cares? It doesn’t mean anything, because the Knicks still won Game 2. A win is a win is a win is a win. So if the Knicks “only” won one quarter tonight and it happens to be the fourth quarter and they win the game, then obviously Games 1-3 weren’t dispositive at all, right?

Again, with this Knicks team, it IS doom alone that counts, so they WILL lose this series, but you can take real shelter in the knowledge that there is no reason why this series is over after just three games (now, if they get their asses kicked in Game 4, that will be a lot more dispositive). So while everything is awful and they will certainly get eliminated by the Heat, we really don’t know that for sure just yet (except that we do).

So while it is fruitless for me to say “Let’s go, Knciks!” it is also fruitless to say that Games 1-3 are the only games that matter in this series. So, well, let’s go, Knicks!

Game Thread

2023 Playoffs Round 2 Game Thread: No Chance Knicks @ Heat, Game 3

In “Tangled Up in Blue,” Bob Dylan wrote:

But all the while I was alone
The past was close behind
I seen a lot of women
But she never escaped my mind, and I just grew
Tangled up in blue

That’s the Knicks and the Heat. We’ve seen a lot of NBA games played, but the past was close behind, and we’re right back to where we were in the 1999 playoffs, a five game series with the Heat having the home court advantage and a #8 seed involved. Of course, back then, the #8 seed won, which is what will happen this time, as well.

The Knicks received every lucky break imaginable during the end of their Game 2 victory against the Heat, and they still just barely put away a Heat team playing without Jimmy Butler. Duncan Robinson was guarding Jalen Brunson one-on-one at points, people! It was a very messed up Heat team, and the Knicks still needed a number of lucky breaks to take them down (like “Oh, did that graze the rim? We can’t tell, so I guess it didn’t although it clearly did. Moving on!”). So that does not bode well for the Knicks in Game 3 in Miami, where Jimmy Butler will likely start for the Heat (although, amazingly, as of right this second, in a tweet just a few minutes ago, the Heat are still listing Butler as questionable. Not only that, by Highsmith is also questionable for the Heat, and Caleb Martin is in bad shape with a back injury, but he will play today).

So the Knicks will clearly lose this game, and the series, but hey, at least it’ll certainly be an interesting basketball game! If you’re going to be tangled up with another team, as least the Knicks are tangled up with another interesting basketball squad.

There’s no point in saying it, but i will say it anyways – let’s go, Knicks (oh, and Spo, please give Duncan Robinson big minutes. Please!)!

Game Thread

2023 Playoffs Game Thread – Hopeless Knicks vs. Heat, Game 2

In Bob Dylan’s “Temporary Like Achilles,” he opens with:

Standing on your window, honey
Yes, I’ve been here before
Feeling so harmless
I’m looking at your second door
How come you don’t send me no regards?

You know I want your lovin’
Honey, why are you so hard?

Well, if you’re an old enough Knick fan, you know that we have definitely been here before with the Knicks and the Heat. Outside of that series against the Heatles, Game 1 was very much in keeping with past Knicks/Heat playoff series. Hard fought, gritty, close games that leave you grinding your teeth down to little stubs. You know we want your lovin’, Knicks (winning playoff games), but honey, why are you so hard?

So expect more of that in Game 2, even with the Heat being without Jimmy Butler. You know who was also missing their best player last night? The Philadelphia 76ers, but they managed to win a playoff game without the literal Most Valuable Player in the NBA this season, Joel Embiid, so certainly, the Heat can (and will) win this game without Jimmy Butler.

Randle and Brunson are both game-time decisions, which is actually kind of freaky, since I would have assumed that Brunson would have been cleared by now. With Butler out, maybe the Knicks are more conservative with Randle. Who knows? I love tweets like, “Randle looked like he was moving well out there.” Dude, you can’t tell shit from that. You certainly can’t tell if a dude’s ankle is prepared to play a professional basketball game. But let’s hope Randle and Brunson both play, not that it really matters.

I figure Caleb Marin slides into the starting lineup, so it’ll be Vincent/Strus/Martin/Love/Bam. That is not an imposing lineup, even with a rejuvenated Kyle Lowry coming off of the bench, but somehow, you know it will work out for the Heat in some weird way.

Why is it so hard for the Knicks? I dunno, but it is, so deal with it.

It matters not at all, but what the heck, let me still say, Let’s go, Knicks!

Game Thread

2023 Playoffs Game Thread – Knicks vs. Heat, Game 1

Just think about the fact that it is the second round of the NBA Playoffs, and the Knicks are not only in the playoffs, but they’re actually the higher seed, and have homecourt! This is literally the second time that this has happened for the Knicks in almost thirty years! The 1993-94 Knicks had homecourt in the second round of the playoffs and then, the last time that the Knicks made the second round, in 2013 (thanks, Z-Man’s son!), they had the homecourt over the Pacers. Three times in nearly 30 years!! How insane is that?

Granted, this time it is only because of a flukish #8 seed over #1 seed upset, but, well, still, right? Holy shit!

But, of course, when they had homecourt in the 2013 Playoffs, they lost, so that shows you what will happen this time around.

The Knicks are bound to get swept by the Heat. That was, after all, what happened in 1999, when the Knicks themselves were the #8 seed who upset a #1 seed in the first round (the NBA didn’t care about the Heat, so they allowed the five-game series to remain back then, only going to seven games in the first round when it might have put the Los Angeles Lakers in danger). The Knicks then swept the #4-seeded Atlanta Hawks in the second round. So presumably the same will happen this time around, as well.

The Knicks and the Heat have played each other in the playoffs five times. The first four series all went the maximum length, but the Heat won the last one in 2012 in five games. The Knicks are up 3-2, so clearly, this both means that the Heat are due and that the trend is towards a sweep, so the Heat will likely sweep.

The Heat are playing without Tyler Herro this series, but the Kmicks are without Julius Randle in Game 1, so that, too, favors the Heat.

You have to give the Knicks a ton of credit getting this far. But credit only goes so far, and the Heat will collect the bill in this series. I’d predict the Heat in three games, but that is not a possibility, so instead, the Heat will win in four games.

However, while the Knicks are doomed, I will still say (not that it matters at all), let’s go, Knicks!

Game Thread

2023 Playoff Thread: The Bad News Knicks @ Cavaliers – The Journey to Losing Three Straight Begins

If you’re of a certain age, you’ll remember that the New England Patriots were, for years, the epitome of a joke football franchise. The Chicago Bulls had never done anything of note until 1991. There was literally a best selling book about how Michael Jordan couldn’t come through in the playoffs.

The lesson? None of those teams have quite the stink of the New York Knicks. The Knicks transcend logic. They can have a 3-1 series lead and you still think they’re the underdog. When you play the Bad News Knicks, it is bad news… for the Knicks!

And remember, the Bad News Bears lose at the end of the movie (and then the franchise ended there and there were no other movies released to ruin the legacy of the first film. I certainly know William Devane never got involved).

So despite the Knicks being in great shape in this series heading into Cleveland, we all know the truth. RJ Barrett has tricked everyone before into thinking he’s turned the corner. We all know he will turn another corner soon enough… right off a cliff.

JB Bickerstaff will buy a clue, and this series will keep going to its inevitable Game 7 Cavs win.

So while they’re doomed, and there is no point in saying it, I’ll just say, as a pity thing, let’s go Knicks!

Game Thread

2023 Playoff Thread – The Little Knicks Team That Couldn’t vs. Cavaliers, Game 4

The Knicks continue their futile attempt to make the second round of the NBA playoffs today with Game 4 of their first round series against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Knicks won Game 3 using the clever strategy of having Elfrid Payton wear Darius Garland’s jersey and shoot a bunch of shots (similar to how the Minnesota Timberwolves let Mark Madsen shoot a bunch of threes that time they were trying to tank their way into keeping their first round pick).

The Knicks, though, are smart. They don’t like to just lose, they want to lose in the most painful way possible, so they cleverly came up with the idea of taking a 2-1 lead in this series to give their fans hope, so that when the Knicks inevitably lose this series, it will hurt even more. Because make no mistake about it, the Knicks are going to find a way to lose this game.

It starts with Quentin Grimes missing Game 4, and it will end, I presume, with Jalen Brunson’s leg exploding and his leg bone stabbing Immanuel Quickley in the ACL. Or perhaps Mitch’s shoelaces will somehow get entangled in every other players’ sneakers, causing one gigantic collective sprained ankle. I don’t know HOW it will happen, just that it WILL happen.

But hey, if you get off on watching the Knicks lose, then this game will be for you.

Let’s go, Knicks, not that it matters, since they are doomed.

Game Thread

2023 Playoff Thread – Team That No One Believes In (Rightly So) vs. Cavaliers, Game 3

The Knicks were beaten badly in Game 2 of this opening round series, and as everyone knows, teams that get beat by a lot in Game 2 on the road after winning clutch Game 1 victories on the road are 50.0000001% more likely to lose the series, so facts are just facts, the Knicks are clearly screwed in this series.

You might be thinking, “But Brian, the series is tied, the Knicks currently have home court advantage, how can things be that bad?” Well, I’ll tell you. Yes, the series is tied, but the Cavaliers beat the Knicks very badly in Game 2. When you beat a team very badly in one game of the series, that means you win the series. That’s just the rules. I don’t make the rules. Those are just the rules. For instance, the largest margin of victory in an NBA playoff game is 58. The Lakers beat the Hawks by 58 points in the 1955-56 NBA playoffs, and the Hawks went on to…win the series. Okay, forget that time. That’s just a one-off. The other team that won a game by 58 points, the 2009 Nuggets, did win their series, so therefore, it is a fact that all teams that have big wins in series, win the series. F-A-C-T.

Also a fact? Jarrett Allen had a hard foul on Julius Randle late in Game 2, when Randle was still playing because he needed to keep his conditioning watching the Cavaliers run up and down the court scoring the ball with ease. Did you know what Randle didn’t do? He did not punch him in the junk! Everyone knows that if you want to win an NBA playoffs game nowadays, one of your players has to hit the other team’s players in the crotch. Why Thibs hasn’t considered this obvious strategy is a huge slap in the face to his coaching ability (but only a proverbial slap in the face, because, again, the Knicks aren’t into that stuff).

It’ll be nice for the Knicks to play this at MSG, as the MSG playoff atmosphere will be intense, and that’s a very good thing. Granted, for this Knicks team, it won’t matter, but at least the players will be able to go back to their own homes to cry when they lose badly again. That’s a huge plus for any playoff team.

Not that it will matter, as they are doomed, but let’s go, Knicks!

Game Thread

2023 Playoffs Thread – Dead Team Walking @ Cavaliers

After getting their first (and only) win of this playoffs in Game 1 against Cleveland due to J.B. Bickerstaff forgetting how to speak for 20 minutes or so, so he was unable to tell anyone that he wanted Cedi Osman either out of the game or just not playing Jalen Brunson 1-on-1, the Knicks remain in Cleveland for their fruitless attempt to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the series (well, “commanding” for most teams, unlike the Knicks, for whom a 2-0 lead would be meaningless).

In big news if the Knicks weren’t inherently screwed, Josh Hart will probably play tonight (he will only not play if he has a problem in warm-ups. Basically, he’s in a lot of pain but he’s managing it, so it’s just a question of whether the pain gets worse during warm-ups. He’s already prepared to play through his current levels of pain). That’s great, as he and Jalen Brunson were on a whole other level than anyone else on the court in Game 1 (outside of perhaps Donovan Mitchell and Isiah Hartenstein) in terms of just not seeming overwhelmed by the drama of the moment. They were calm, cool and collected. It’s great to see. At least it would be great to see if the Knicks had any chance of winning this series.

Let’s go, Knicks, not that it matters!