Congrats to Tom Thibodeau, the 2020-21 NBA Coach of the Year!

I legit still don’t know how to spell Thibodeau without looking.

Anyhow, wow, in an upset victory over former Knick Monty Williams, Thibs edged out a win in the Coach of the Year voting through Williams inexplicably only appearing in the top two on 77 of the 100 ballots, while Thibs appeared in the top two on 85 of the ballots, so even with weighted voting and Williams receiving more first place votes (hence him being the odds-on favorite to win the award, due to more sportswriters naming him as their top pick in their various columns before the voting was announced), Thibs edged it out!

It was like a Knicks regular season victory, it was very unlikely (the person with the most first place votes almost always wins. It’s hard to get vote totals, but it’s been that way for at least the last 15 years before I gave up looking for more), but it was appreciated and well-earned!

Congrats, Thibs!

Hawks 112, Knicks 101. Fisher Tells Off Media

Things certainly got interesting after the Knickerbockers got a clinic in what a free-flowing offense actually looks like in today’s NBA. Not to say the Knicks were terrible, but the Hawks were simply just so so so much better offensively. While I’ll get into the game in just a minute, can we all give Derek Fisher a round of applause for passive aggressively telling the New York media to chill the hell out?

During his postgame press conference, Coach Fisher was asked if he would consider making any lineup changes. After spending 15-20 seconds essentially dancing around the question, he hit the media with a quick 1-2 combo that certainly made this orange and blue fan chuckle.

“…It’s always very interesting to see how things change. Where last night, everything was great and the sun was up. Now, all of a sudden, there is no sun because we lost tonight. That’s the mentality we have to get out of in this organization, everybody,” said Fisher.

Dear Derek, it would be great if that same tenacity came across on the court. We get that maybe you spent too long under the tutelage of the Zen master, but to be polite: Nobody’s got time for that “Mr. Calm, Cool, and Collected” crap. No one’s buying your nice technical fouls, especially when you’ve got Calderon and Vujacic getting blown by on every play.

Speaking of which, let’s get into last night’s game with the Hawks.

For me, the story of the game wasn’t Carmelo Anthony’s 10-27 shooting, nor was it the 21 turnovers. The biggest issue moving forward was what that beat writer eluded to: Why, oh why, is Jose Calderon the starting PG for the Knicks when he can’t keep a tortoise from getting past him?

Calderon, through 2 games has a defensive rating of 102.5, which in comparison to Grant (104.4) and Galloway (102.9) is actually better. However, in Calderon’s 18 minutes of play, it’s his lack of contributions on the offensive end in correlation to his defense that are truly hurting the Knicks. The veteran guard is nearly 50 points below Grant and 40 below Galloway. Which means that per 100 possessions, when Calderon is on the court, the Knicks give up 102.5 points and score only 78.8, for a whopping -23.7 net rating.

Not only can the man not get a stop defensively, but he also is doing absolutely nothing to help the team score! Grant has a net rating of +20.8 and Galloway, +14.8.

There isn’t one category where Calderon outshines Grant and Galloway. His true shooting percentage is an abysmal 23%, he’s a poor rebounder, and he’s doing little more than setup the offense for the first unit. Not to mention, he’s typically setting up that offense because his player just scored or assisted on a scoring basket.

While fans are calling for Grant to start in place of Calderon, I’ll give you one better, insert Langston Galloway to man the starting PG position. Grant has certainly been a breath of fresh air with his speed and savviness in the second unit. But it’s been Galloway’s on-ball pressure, outside shooting, and consistent care with the ball (zero turnovers through two games), that has caught my eye.

While none of these point guards are going to be shutdown defenders at this point. Having a starting lineup of Galloway, Afflalo (when he returns), Melo, KP, and Lopez, you’ve got length, scoring, and rebounding at every position. Also, you’ll still have players in the second unit who can get out and score in transition, while Calderon and Vujacic will play against lower level guards on most nights and essentially become spot up shooters when Grant penetrates.

Now all we need is for Fisher to watch some film with Phil and come to his senses.

Additional Game Notes from tonight:

KP’s steal at the top of the arc, “accidental spin” to elude Milsap, and dunk in the open court, was easily the highlight of the night. He also finished with 10 points and 8 rebounds.

Derrick Williams came back down to earth, particularly in the second half. He finished with 9 points on 3 for 9 shooting. The turnovers and lack of defensive stops didn’t allow him to get out in transition.

Carmelo Anthony, wearing a mic for TNT, pulled Galloway and Grant aside in the first half, telling them both to attack and then setup the offense. How bad does Melo want one of these two in the starting lineup?

Lance Thomas and Robin Lopez providing offense that I definitely never expected, other than a putback or two per game. I like Thomas for his defensive activity in the second unit. Have to admit, I would like to see Cleanthony get some time because he was also very active defensively during the preseason. I expect Lopez to play better once Calderon is out of the starting lineup and Afflalo returns.

Melo didn’t shoot the ball well, which I attribute to him not having his legs just yet. However, he’s had three and-1’s this year and he’s attacking the rim regularly. 61.1% of his points so far, have been in the paint.

Game 1 Notes: Knicks 122 Bucks 97

Below are my notes from last night’s game.

National Anthem:
So my building was sold again this year, which means I have to go through the process of training a new set of owners how appartments need heat. This is seriously affecting my drink choices. I’ve been home all day, and I’m freezing, so I’m thinking winter time beverages. In the fridge is some heavy cream, so I’m going with a Brandy Alexander. She usually doesn’t make an appearance until Christmas, but I’m wearing a sweatshirt right now.

Introductions:
CHRIS COPELAND!

Wow I love how folksy the Bucks owner is. Somebody tell me that “speech” to the crowd is somewhere on YouTube.

1Q
Porzingis loses a rebound. Someone make this kid carry around a pumpkin to build up those wrists & fingers. It’s October, so no one will notice.

Bucks run a pick & roll. Calderon desides to admire the bright lights for a few minutes as Milwaukee plays basketball. Bucks first guy misses, but the second makes the basket. Not a good start.

Kristaps shows some nice defense on a Copeland drive (was it a block). His length will be causing problems on the defensive end.

Calderon passes it directly to the Bucks. And then follows it up by letting them have an easy bucket off another pick. He’s looking like the 19th pick in the draft.

Wow and on the next play Michael Carter-Williams beats Jose on a back door alley-oop. If I’m coach, I’m putting in Galloway or Grant. 11-4 Bucks, Knicks time out.

Carmelo scores on a drive. He might as well, no one else is doing anything.

Porzingis has missed 3 shots I think. On this last one, Copeland just put a hand in his face. I’m glad I took the under with regards to his true shooting percentage.

O’Quinn & Williams are in, along with Vujacic, Galloway, and Melo.

Ooooh I just came up with a nickname for O’Quinn: Oaq.

I was refreshing my drink (and not watching) when Jerian Grant scores. Promise to catch the next one.

Derrick Williams just split two defenders, and had Oaq wide open under the hoop. He keeps the ball and gets fouled instead. Assists are meaningless to this man.

On the Bucks feed, I see William Shatner doing a commercial for a local law firm. Nice owner? William Shatner endorcing local business? Where is this magical place called Milwaukee?

We’re not even 12 minutes into the new season, and I know who Derrick Williams is. He’s the guy at your local court who can score, but will shoot the ball anytime it hits his paws.

He’s taken two shots while I wrote those sentences about him.

OK the color guy on the Bucks telecast just mentioned “analytics” about Williams getting to the free throw line. I’m getting the suitcases out.

Jerian Grant with a nice drive & scoop layup to score. Told you I’d catch the next one.

Knicks up 27-23.

2Q
Derrick Williams scores again to start the quarter. He’s definitely fun to watch so far.

Oaq on Monroe with a nice defensive stop (blocked shot?). Looks like he can defend against centers which is a good thing.

Bucks telecast is (partially) sponsored by Wendys. I’m fucking there! (Side note: is their chili the healthiest thing you can get in any fast food restaurant?)

Attempted alley-oop to Porzingis. Not even close. Put that back in the binder until next year.

On the other end his length is still causing problems. On this possession it was the cause of a back court.

Kristaps drives baseline and scores off the glass.

Knicks up 49-34, and Derrick Williams has 15 points.

Porzingis with a block! What if he’s half of Dirk’s offense, but with a strong defensive game?

Michael Carter-Williams now torches Vujacic for an easy basket. Guards wanted, non-defenders need not apply.

Porzingis is the trailer on a Galloway breakaway. Takes three shots and gets fouled on the last one.

Then Kristaps gets a steal, but Vuajic underthrows the alley-oop. Next year, guys. Next year.

Zinger again at the line for being fouled on the break.

Oaq scores from the blocks with 3 on him. Where were you in 1993?

Porzingis again at the line. Maybe my pre-season concerns were unfounded.

Oaq just thwacked Bayless on a fast break drive that looked like something the Iron Sheik would have pulled. The Buck announcers say he reminds them of … Charles Oakley. How much are plane tickets?

Porzingis gets it on the low blocks. He’s a bit out of control, but gets bailed out by a Milwaukee foul. Oh and he’s at the line again!

HALFTIME
Knicks winning 63-51. I can see the MSG cast interviewing Derrick Williams in the background.

3Q
Switched to the Knicks’ feed. I have to grab the mute on my tv remote and inch up on the volume. We New Yorkers are a loud people.

Anthony knocks down a three. He’s been quiet for Melo thus far.

Anthony takes 2 more shots. They’re obviously trying to get him into the game more.

The Knicks are up 70-55. Did I drink that much?

Melo comes up gimpy on a contact play. My heart just skipped a beat. But Anthony stays in the game and appears OK.

Kristaps on the half court trap is like having a windmill come to life and attack you. His presence helps force an easy steal for Sasha, and an easy transition score.

On the next play Porzingis on Copeland and Chris dribbles the ball out of bounds. Zinger gets the ball in the post and pitches it out for a three. Then on the next Knick possession, he gets the ball in transition and scores again. Here is your window to the future.

After a pair of Lopez free throws, they’re up by 20. Maybe the Brandy Alexander is on time, because Christmas has come early!

Porzingis gets the ball wide open at the top and nails a three!

With 4:35 left, Derrick Williams comes back into the game for the first time. Oaq enters as well. And before I can finish that, DW launches and misses a three.

Monroe stays in the game and tries to cut the lead. But Galloway hits a pair of threes, and Williams draws a foul to keep the Knick afloat.

O’Quinn attempts a three pointer with the shot clock expiring. It came about as close to the rim as if I had shot it.

4Q
90-73, Knicks. I still need some time to process this.

Williams starts it off with a slam. Then goes coast to coast to draw a foul on Copeland. He. Doesn’t. Pass. Ever.

Williams takes another shot. I’m curious what his usage will be when the dust settles.

After a Galloway three, Derrick Williams with a blind side block. New York up 98-79 with just under 9 minutes to go. I don’t think we’ll see the starters again…

Nope I’m wrong. They’re back in with the lead cut to 15. They are Melo, Vujacic, and Porzingis. No Rolo.

Williams cares not if starters are in or not, and takes (and makes) another 3.

Kristaps can’t secure another defensive rebound. Pumpkin buddy. Pumpkin.

Ok now it’s an 18 point lead with 4:41 to go. Why is Carmelo in the game in the first of back-back games? Fisher?!?!

Porzingis holds his ground against Monroe and forces a miss. I think I just noticed he’s playing center. But one thing I’ve kept my eyes on: Porzingis’ is solid defensively when he stays on his feet.

It’s a 17 point lead with 3:02 to go. Why is Carmelo Anthony in? This is the only thing I can think about it. Why???

And Melo now comes out. :-/

The real basketball in this game is over…