Lucky to get out alive?

[Today’s article comes from guest blogger Gabe Farkas. Gabe is a contributor on the APBRmetrics discussion boards, a native New Yorker, an avid Knicks fan, and he won’t be upset if (when) you disagree with him. Gabe is also currently pursuing a MA in Statistics from Columbia University.]

?Best win of the year? is how Walt Frazier described last night?s come-from-behind victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers during the post-game recap.

?Lucky that LeBron went cold at the right time? is how I?d be more inclined to phrase it.

Most of the talking heads last night and this morning attributed the win to the Knicks becoming ?defensive monsters in the fourth? and Jamal Crawford?s 26 point effort off the bench.

I beg to differ just a little bit. The Knicks managed to escape Cleveland with a win despite still exhibiting all the inconsistencies that Larry Brown was supposedly brought in to correct. We?ve all seen this self-combusting behavior once too often recently. Don’t get me wrong; I’m happy to see the Knicks win a come-from-behind game, and I thought at times their defense was ever-so-slightly reminiscent of the team circa 1994. On top of that, Stephon Marbury is finally learning how to play under Brown’s style. But, the team wasn’t without its faults. I kept a running log of the game, and I?m feeling frisky enough to break out some highlights (and lowlights) for analysis and discussion:

First Quarter

With about 7:30 left in the quarter, Jerome James was already in foul trouble, and the Cavs were off to a 13-3 start. A minute later, Jamal Crawford launched the first of what would be many long jumpers during the game.

A little past midway through the quarter, Crawford dished to Quentin Richardson who hit a 3-pointer to bring the score to 13-8. Normally this is no big deal, considering that Q-Rich led the league in 3?s made and attempted last year, but what?s interesting to note was that he did it with LeBron closely guarding him. One might have thought that LBJ considered this a personal affront, since he proceeded to take the Cavs? next three shots down the floor (not counting a missed tip shot by Drew Gooden, whom we?ll get to later), missing a jumper and a lay-in before finally making a driving layup.

In the meantime, Crawford seemed to think he was in a Usage Rate contest with LeBron, continuing to shoot almost every time he touched the ball, and even being called for a carry.

One positive is that it seems Larry Brown has finally convinced the team to at least make an effort on defense, after being ranked 25th last year in Defensive Rating. This is especially true for Mo ?Allergic to Rebounds? Taylor, who drew a charge on Ira Newble with 30 seconds left in the quarter.

The other bright spot in the quarter was Channing Frye, who hit his 3rd jumper of the game with 3 seconds left, bringing the Knicks to within 3. Channing has been coming on strong of late, and is shooting 74% from the field in January coming into the game.

Second Quarter

With 9:40 left in the quarter and Cleveland maintaining their lead 28-24, LeBron finally comes out for a rest, and is replaced by Luke Jackson, who virtually defines the term ?Replacement Level Player.? One might think on offense the Knicks might try to exploit Jackson, no? Well, if one thought that, one would be right. Almost immediately, Jamal Crawford hit a jumper with Jackson in his face, followed by Luke coming back down the court and bricking a 12-foot jumper of his own. Larry Brown definitely has the team understanding match-ups better, challenging the seldom-used Jackson right away.

On the other end of the court, Cleveland?s offense sputtered without James on the floor. Around the 8-minute mark, with the shot clock winding down, Luke Jackson passed up a wide open jumper to Eric Snow, who forced up a miss as the shot clock was expiring. In a well-executed fast break that is becoming increasingly common for the team, Marbury nicely finished a lay-in to put the Knicks up by two, prompting a Cleveland timeout.

At this point, with LeBron resting, the only player keeping Cleveland in the game was Drew Gooden. During a 2-3 minute stretch in the first quarter, he had 2 blocks and 4 offensive rebounds. By around halfway through the second quarter, he finished off a fast break to put the Cavs back up by two, and already had 10 points and 9 rebounds.

Crawford continued to force shots, and LeBron hit a jumper on his first touch after coming back in the game, then missed a jumper and began hearing boos. Seriously though Cavs fans, he?s LeBron James ? do you really need to boo every time he misses a contested jumper (although, he was 5-15 at this point)?

With 2:00 left in the quarter, Mo Taylor drew an obvious charge (what would have been his second of the game) against LeBron that wasn?t called, followed by Steph hitting a trademark jumper with help from a Taylor screen, and then Taylor drawing a much-less-obvious charge against Eric Snow. Hmmmm, so there is such a thing as star treatment. Better break out my old VHS from Game 6 of the ?98 Finals.

Breaking down the half, both teams shot poorly (40% for New York, 36% for Cleveland), and didn?t pass effectively (7 assists on 45 FGA for the Knicks, 6 on 44 FGA for the Cavs), although the Knicks held the advantage on the glass, 29 to 22.

Third Quarter

LeBron started off the quarter by hitting 3 quick shots. Suddenly I was worried. Then, Eddy Curry drew a foul on Ilgauskas (his 4th), causing the Cleveland center to head to the bench. After seemingly exploiting match-ups well in the first half, I was wondering if the Knicks could do it again without Cleveland?s defensive presence in the middle.

Well, their next three shots were a driving layup by Nate Robinson, a turn-around in the lane by David Lee, and an impressive stutter-step jumper by Stephon over LeBron. 54-53 Knicks. So far, so good.

But, while Lee has been fairly impressive lately (shooting 88% from the field in January), his inability to deny LeBron the ball and/or keep him from taking easy shots allowed Cleveland to stay in the game. After LBJ nailed another jumper over Lee at around the 5-minute mark for a 62-56 lead, Lee was finally (mercifully) pulled and Q-Rich came back in the game.

However, LeBron went 3-5 for the quarter after the defensive switch, with Cleveland running the same screen play several times in a row due to New York?s inability to successfully defend it. At this point, LBJ seemed to be taking over. The Cavs strung together a 15-3 run, and Jamal Crawford forgot what it means to hold the ball without shooting, although at the time Walt Frazier euphemistically deemed it ?creating havoc.?

72-67, Cleveland after three. For the quarter, LeBron was 6-8 for 14 points. The Knicks still held an edge in rebounds (37 to 31), but also had more turnovers (11 to 8). Surprisingly, Crawford was shooting a respectable 6-13, while LeBron doubled him up, going 13-25 so far in the game and single-handedly keeping his team in front.

Fourth Quarter

Entering the quarter, Eddy Curry was 2-6 from the field, having played only 13 minutes, despite Zydrunas Ilgauskas sitting most of the 3rd quarter. The Knicks went to Curry early, and he responded by hitting his first three shots of the fourth quarter, even posting up Ilgauskas and calling for the ball the third time around, receiving a nice entry pass from Nate Robinson.

Speaking of Robinson, this seems like a good time to touch on the Knicks substitution patterns. Although their substitutions have been somewhat perplexing all year, Larry Brown seems to be settling in on a steady rotation. One thing that I?ve noticed is that he likes to sub Nate for Steph fairly early in quarters, and then bring Marbury back in with plenty of time left. Tonight was no exception, as Nate entered the game with 10 minutes remaining, assisted on an aforementioned Eddy Curry shot, and then went back to the bench at the 8:21 mark.

Midway through the quarter both teams hit a lull in offensive productivity. For Cleveland, it was a case of LeBron going cold, and only Mike Wilks? first 3-pointer of the season saved them from being scoreless for a stretch of over 5 minutes. For New York, the ineptitude was a group activity, with Frye, Curry, Marbury, and (especially) Jamal Crawford all participating.

With his shot struggling, LBJ still managed to impact the game through his defense, forcing a bad pass turnover from Crawford to Q-Rich on a potential fast break opportunity by cutting off the passing angle. In fact, LeBron didn?t score his 2nd point of the quarter until making the first of two free throws with less than 4 minutes to go in the game, and the Knicks having reclaimed the lead 83-82. Q-Rich was doing a much better job containing LeBron than David Lee, but the team as a whole was communicating and utilizing help defense adroitly to contain James.

Channing Frye capped off a 10-1 run with another jumper with 3 minutes left, giving the Knicks a 5-point lead, and making New York 7-16 from the field in the quarter, compared to 3-14 for Cleveland. Apparently, as LeBron goes, so do the Cavs.

The only player keeping the game close for Cleveland was Drew Gooden. During the next Knicks possession, Frye was stripped on a dribble-drive by Gooden, but luckily got the ball back and was fouled. This forced the Knicks to in-bound the ball with only 3 seconds left on the shot clock, and Gooden pulled down the rebound after you-can-guess-who missed a hastily-shot layup (Hint: _amal _raw_ord).

However, it was too little, too late for the Cavs, who were outscored 25-12 in the 4th quarter. LeBron was 1-6 in the fourth, his only field goal a meaningless layup with 17 seconds left and the game already decided.

Final score: 92-84 New York

Game Breakdown

As I mentioned at the beginning, Jamal Crawford?s 26 point, 10 rebound, 4 assist effort was considered by many as stat line of the night. However, what you?re not seeing are the 4 turnovers (a team high), no steals, and 9-21 shooting (42%, decent but not great). In fact, if you use the “Game Score” version of John Hollinger’s PER, as outlined in his Pro Basketball Forecast, Crawford?s output didn?t pace his team:

Name GameScore

New York
S. Marbury 20.7
J. Crawford 16.3
C. Frye 9.7
E. Curry 5.1
N. Robinson 3.6
Q. Richardson 3.2
D. Lee 2.2
A. Davis 1.2
M. Taylor 1.2
J. James -1.6

L. James 25.4
D. Gooden 13.4
D. Marshall 5.8
Z. Ilgauskas 3.9
M. Wilks 1.7
I. Newble 1.2
A. Henderson 0.1
E. Snow -0.2
L. Jackson -0.7
D. Jones -2.3

Marbury seems to be finding his groove lately, and this game was no exception. Shooting 8-12 from the field and 6-6 from the line, he scored 22 points, and had 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and only 1 turnover in 43 minutes. For whatever you?ve read about Stephon?s proverbial head-butting with Larry Brown, he?s still the best player on his team and his production is closely linked to the Knicks? success as a team.

For Cleveland, it was the LeBron show and not much else. His 36 points were one less than the next three Cavs combined, and his 7 rebounds, 7 assists, and only 1 turnover were also impressive. Gooden?s rebounding (he led all players with 12) and Donyell Marshall?s 3-pointers were the only other numbers in Cleveland?s box score worth mentioning. Fortunately for the Knicks, a team defensive effort (with noteworthy man-to-man defense by Q-Rich) was able to keep LeBron in check in the fourth quarter while the offense mounted a comeback. Perhaps it?s a clich? at this point, but I saw shades of MJ circa ?88 in LeBron during this game.

Despite the victory, the Knicks still displayed some of the inconsistencies and poor decision-making that have plagued them throughout the year. Call me jaded, but I?m not ready to celebrate unabashedly after one win. That said, there were definitely a few positives to take away from the game:

– the Knicks made a concerted effort to stop LeBron from penetrating as much as possible, forcing him to settle for jumpers, demonstrating their renewed efforts on defense
– Jerome James getting to the free throw line early, after going only 5-10 all year (!)
– seeing all 3 Knicks rookies on the floor at the same time for a decent stretch of the 2nd quarter (the positive outpouring from Robinson, Frye, and Lee deserves a column all to itself)

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69 thoughts to “Lucky to get out alive?”

  1. “Call me jaded, but I?m not ready to celebrate unabashedly after one win.”

    No way, baby. It’s now official. For the first time since Dec. 8, 2001 — the day JVG resigned — the Knicks do not suck.

    That doesn’t mean that they’re going to make the playoffs this year, or that they’ll always play well. But, when you play the way they’ve played the last four games, and LB is your coach, it’s not a coincidence, and it’s not luck.

    The Knicks do not suck anymore.

  2. When talking about a team with a payroll that’s double and triple that of most of the teams in the leauge I’d wait until they get over .500 to make that claim.

  3. Hey Kareem,
    is there a thread that can escape without your adding your negativity to it? You may have a point, but it’s the same one you make in every post in every thread…we know where you stand…

  4. Steve – after tonight’s win against Dallas, maybe we can start celebrating just a *little* bit.

    Kareem – seriously, stop being such a Negative Ninny. And are you implying that doesn’t deal in reality?!?

  5. I agree with Kareem. This team is terrible, our GMs are catastrophic nitwits at best, this site doesn’t deal with reality, and there’s a weird smell coming from under my couch that I’m assuming is thanks to the Knicks. We might as well move the team to Las Vegas, change the name to the Rounders, and strike all the previous player records we have, because like Kareem says, there’s no point in going forward with this sorry team until everything is slash and burned, Russia-against-Napolean-style.

    And for anyone flipping out right now, I’m only kidding.

    Kareem, every team goes through “rough patches” in their history (just ask Clippers fans). Every team struggles at one point or another (Just ask Hornets fans). Unless your the Yankees, you can’t win all the time. But I watch basketball because I like playing basketball, and I watch the Knicks because they’re my favorite team, and that will never change. No, these Knicks aren’t the 1969-’70 vintage, but that’s ok. And yeah, they’re far removed from their glory days, but that’s Father Time for you. It’s part of the game.

    I can’t speak for everyone here, but I can speak for myself and how I feel when I say that if it really hurts your eyeballs to watch this Knicks team play, then, well, don’t watch. No one’s forcing you to. And please don’t kill our hopes and good feelings whenever we have them. A 4 game winnig streak with this team is a great thing, and I’d like to enjoy it as it lasts.

    I’m not saying I’m completely blind to the team’s current situation. A lot of Isaiah’s moves have left me scratching my head, and the turnovers still make me scream at the tv sometimes. But being a basketball fan doesn’t mean being a masochist, and it doesn’t mean trying to bring everyone down with you. That’s what Red Sox fans are(or were, anyways) for. Think happy thoughts, Kareem.

    In the meantime, the rest of us will take advantage of KB’s wealth of information and connections to good writers and have some good ol fashioned fan discussions.

  6. Its not a coincidence the Knicks have beaten 3 top tier teams on their streak. There scoring is up. There defensive intensity is up. There overall energy is up.

    I was ready to give up on the Knicks after the game in Orlando, but they look like a TOTALLY different team out there.

    I hate to knock Wilken and Herb Williams, but Larry Brown is clearly the difference in the equation. Now that they understand his system and there is a consistent rotation, it shows in the quality of offensive sets and defensive sequences.

    We many not be back to .500 till around 55-60 games, but if things continue the way they are, I am very excited for the future.

    PS: Even if the Knicks aren’t a playoff team, they are still way more excitingto watch than the Knicks team of the post-Van Gundy era.

  7. Trade Marbury, bring back Sweetney, fire Brown & Isiah, the sky is falling in!

    Man, you guys like Cips and Kareem need to look on the bright side! We’re on a roll and we’re really starting to click – I think its complete bullshit that we’re starting to win but now its just oh – we were lucky to hang on. What a load of crap – luck is always a factor, but the main thing is whether you win or not. I think everybody is so used to pointing out all the negatives when we’re losing that now that we’re winning they can’t handle it! Still looking on the negatives!

    Face it, Crawford is killing it off the bench, Steph is figuring out the system, Curry is a huge threat inside, Frye is an agressive offensive prescence, Robinson brings a load of energy, Lee is a real hustle guy, plus we’re getting valuable contributions from AD and Mo! Plus we’re starting to get stops on big plays! Look on the bright side for once! Enjoy it when we’re winning!

  8. I’ve never seen a group of people more excited about a 12-22 team. I’m not trying to ruin anyones “fun” but it’s my preference to deal in reality, and in reality, the Knicks just drew even with the Raptors. I’d rather accuratly evaluate the situation and figure out what needs to be done instead of constantly changing my opinion every game. I understand the Layden years were tough, but you guys have really, really, low expectations. It’s funny, because people always say how Knicks fans demand a winner and excellence and that’s why Zeke didn’t just rebuild and why he did things like sign players like Jerome James, but I’ve seen the opposite. You guys are perfectly content to suck.

    Yes, I know, I know, this 4 game winning streak is exciting for a team that is this bad, but please, when you spend this kind of money and have this kind of opportunity to be good demand a little more. Or, in other words, demand excellence instead of being thrilled at the prospect of mediocrity.

  9. You’re right in one sense Kareem – in regard to the dismal record – but this isn’t the same Knicks team as last season, and it isn’t even the same Knicks team that struggled early in the season. It doesn’t look the same in personell or rotation, and yes, LB’s teams traditionally take a while to learn the system.

    Curry/James were sidelined with injuries most of the losing streak, and Curry didn’t even get in shape until two weeks ago. Seeing what Curry can do NOW, and watching Antonio Davis provide some vet leadership and hustle, the Curry/Davis for Sweets/AlbatrossTT seems like a no brainer. Nate was making absolutely zero contributions early in the season, Q was a non-factor until as of late, and Steph/Crawford were still struggling with the new system of play. Also, you can’t discount the ill effect of the weird rotations: LB couldn’t decide who to play/start, and he gave Butler/Barnes/Rose way more minutes than David Lee. The rotations have been looking nice and fluid with 9-10 players, the Knicks are rebounding and defending well, and FINALLY, their natural talents are starting to show through. Cause lets face it, they ARE a talented group of players, no question.

    Forget about the playoffs and the record, for once in a long while, the Knicks are fun to watch again.

    Barring some major injuries, I think the Knicks are in good shape to continue to grow and develop into a more than solid team. For now, I’m satisfied with the rebuilding effort.

  10. Kareem – it sounds like the role of the stereotypical Knicks fan who demands nothing less than a complete winner is being played by you, not anyone else.

    If you take a look at my article again, you’ll see that I take a stance that can basically be described as “cautiously optimistic.” Yes, there were some nice parts, but there were also still some warts that I point out.

    To me, being able to acknowledge these things and focus on what’s happening immediately is “dealing with reality” while demanding “excellence” from this team is a little fantastical, no?

  11. That’s a five game winning streak…against teams with a combined record of 97-73…capped with a win against a 27-9 team on the second night of a back-to-back. :)

    I have said all along that this team wasn’t as bad as people were making it out to be. I’m not breaking out any champagne…but the signs of a program in transition are there. Their play over the last four games has been solid. Can they build on it? We’ll see…

  12. Kareem,

    You’ve never seen anyone have some fun after a five-game win streak? And how long have you been a sports fan? We all know the reality, but then not many 12-22 teams win 5 in a row against teams as good as the Mavs, Cavs and Suns. You see, we don’t always have to look at the worst — the worst has been addressed, ad nauseum…but it seems anyone tries to look at the situation in the best possible light, you get downright angry. Bully for you. You seem aggravated anytime someone takes a postive tack after a win, but it seems you’re performing somersaults to prove how every single win piling up proves nothing. I don’t think the losses early this season mean MORE than the wins now. With Curry out, Lee and Robinson not even in the rotation,etc., hell, it’s not even hardly the same team playing that was playing a month ago. Let’s look at what’s going right now…

  13. “I?ve never seen a group of people more excited about a 12-22 team.”

    I’ve never seen anyone less excited about a 5-game winning streak! If I was a Pistons or Spurs fan, it wouldn’t mean much, but give the mediocre and below-mediocre sides we’ve put up with over the last few years, its definitely something to smile about!

  14. The Knicks are clearly a better team than their record indicates. Beating three of the NBA’s best teams in the past ten days is no fluke. But the Knicks still have their problems, especially on defense.

    First of all, they’ve had a lot of problems defending the pick and roll all season, and they still do. Last night against the Mavs, Jason Terry was coming off of picks set by Nowitzski for wide open jumpers. The player guarding Nowitzski has to help trap the player dribbling off the pick. That was the key to shutting down LeBron in the fourth quarter. At one point against the Mavs last night, Mo Taylor wasn’t even looking at Jason Terry coming off the pick.

  15. I’m a huge Knicks fan. I’m also a big Giants fan. I went to see the G’s play the Redskins this year (the 36-0 demolition) and sat next to an older couple (in their 70s-80s) dressed head to toe in Giants gear. On the first play for the G-Men Tiki Barber ran 50-plus yards down the left side to a 1st and Goal. The older man immediately shouted “They won’t score! They’ll give it right back. They stink.” They got a field goal. (something the Gmen did way too much of. Next time down they got another first and goal and he said “They’ll throw an interception! They’ll give it right back!” Manning did throw an interception. The older man yelled “Ha! See?! I told you!” For the rest of the game, as the gmen obliterated the Skins, he complained less and less and eventually fell silent. He NEVER cheered. not once. Don’t think he even smiled. This for a guy who had the look of being a NYG fan his whole life.

    There are people in life who deal with the hand they are dealt and try to make the best of it. There are those who just complain when they’re dealt a bad hand.

    And then there are those who just complain. Bad hand, good hand, 50-plus gain, 5-game win streak, 12-22 record, turnover, whatever. It makes them feel important somehow. Can’t really explain it. But then I don’t need to. I just love b-ball and I love the NYK.


  16. Got a little time on your hands, Gabe? I sincerely hope this article will be submitted for credit toward your MA. Break it down in a twelve page essay if you like, but six wins in a row tends to lend credence to what Walt Clyde said.

  17. I might point out that we are literally not as bad as most 12-22 teams, in that we are 12-21.

    I might also point out that Kareem is a grumpus malumpus and harshing my buzz.

    Record-wise, this season hasn’t gone great so far, obviously, but that’s kind of not the point about this year. The challenge for Larry Brown this year – a rebuilding year, I might add – is to REBUILD THIS TEAM’S MENTAL TOUGHNESS. And in this winning streak, we’re starting to get real signs that that’s working.

    In previous seasons, we had a team that would always have these periods where nothing would fall and nothing went right, and over and over that doomed us and made us lose close games. During the streak, we’re seeing a team that’s communicating, passing to the open man, functioning as a team, hitting their free throws (30 in a row last night!)… those are the signs of a mentally tougher team.

    I’d love the Knicks to make the postseason this year, sure, but what I really want to see from them, regardless of their record, is just some fundamental improvement in team dynamics. Once they get the right outlook to the game (or as Larry says, “learn to play the right way”), then they’ll really have what it takes to make a true run at the championship.

  18. As I posted a couple of days ago, every Larry Brown first-year team has started in almost exactly this fashion: Terrible in November and December, followed by a January run.

    Philly still didn’t make the playoffs in 97-98, but they were building something which turned out not half bad.

  19. It’s a little unfair that the Knicks full season record is being used as an argument against currently getting excited. If they were to rattle off 10 more straight wins, would the argument be “why is everyone getting so exctied over a .500 team”?

    Everything should be taken into context. You have to weigh the full record with their current streak/play. Since there are reasons to believe that the current streak is more than just “luck” (i.e. all the reasons stated by the above posters), it’s not that unreasonable to be very encouraged by it.

  20. The Knicks are the only undefeated team in 06, they’ve won five in a row, and after there next few games against the Hawks, Raptors, TWolves, and Bulls, (4 teams they can/should be able to beat) the Knicks could conceivably be riding a 9 game winning streak coming home to face the Pistons in the Garden. And you know how the Knicks played Detroit even during their down streak. You find me a Knick fan that wouldn’t be pumped up for that game and I’ll show you a fan who’ll probably start wearing a Brooklyn Nets jersey a few years from now.

  21. Haz – the whole point of the post was that I don’t agree with Kareem. The first paragraph was meant to be funny (although that’s up to you guys). I’m happy with the team and the direction it’s going.

    I never did understand the whole “I won’t take anything less than a winning season because this is New York!” sentiment either.

  22. Say what you will, but it just seems odd to me that everyone goes from “The sky is falling” to “Look out for the Knicks” over the course of a 5 game winning streak. The larger point is that although the Knicks may or may not be better than their record, that this is not a championship caliber team and I don’t see that kindof potential in it either. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong, but I’m only interested in winning titles, not getting to .500 with a mercenary coach and a payroll tripling other teams in the league.

  23. Kareem, when you watch a Knicks game (you do watch KNicks games right?), and the Knicks, lets say, pull out a good win over Cleveland, do you throw back a beer, smile and say, “well done boys.”, or do you turn off the tv, frown, and tally up the Knicks payroll in your head? Do you like the Knicks? Do you even like basketball? Take it easy brotha!

  24. I think everyone would agree Isiah Thomas has made some questionable moves. I thought trading Nazr Mohammed and trading for Mo taylor were downright awful. I was grumbling that Scott Layden could do a better job. I was really mad we traded away 2 potential lottery picks and Sweets for Curry. Not to mention our slary is a gargantuan 125 million!

    In retrospect, Isiah hasn’t done the best moves, but he had a plan. The average player age is significantly younger and we have a great group of “neophytes” as stated by Frazier. This year we may not be a playoff team (although we are only 2 games out), but the franchise looks like it is moving in the right direction.

    This sport does have a salary cap, so you can’t expect to be the Yankees every year and be in championship contention. Ever since the turn of 2006 this team looks different and revitalized. I am excited for the rest of the season because they have come to play.

    Losing Kurt Thomas stunk, but Nate Robinson is gonna have a bright future (Robinson has way more upside than Thomas ever did). Curry now in shape is clearly outplaying Sweets; not to mention this draft class is gonna be weak barring Morrison, Redick and Rondo. Looking at the Bulls, losing Curry and his 17 ppg was a bigger setback than anyone expected. If we end up making the playoffs the next 2 seasons, we will get the last laugh when Curry is anchoring us and those “lottery” picks fall in the 16-21 range. Frye and Lee have turned out WAY better than I ever expected. I was nervous after the Darko dilemma in Detroit that these rookies wouldn’t develop in NY.

    All of the pieces are falling in place and the future looks very bright. This team is fun to watch and I am proud to be a Knicks fan.

  25. Oh yeah I see Cips, think I read your comment a bit too quickly.

    Anyway I think we’re looking pretty good, of course there were a few questionable trades along the way…but overall things don’t look too bad.

    Of course, around this time last year, we were something like 16-13, Marbury was the self-proclaimed best point guard in the league and the playoffs looked well within reach…but hopefully this year is kind of an inverse to that one!

  26. Kareem can be a little negative, but he does have a valid point: three weeks ago, some of you were screaming, “The sky is falling! Fire Zeke! Fire LB! Trade Marbury!” Now, we win five games, and someone is saying “The next four games are a piece of cake so we’ll likely be riding a nine-game winning streak and be ready to take on the Pistons!”

    Both of those were extremes. We have four weak opponents coming up, but if you recall a December in which patsy teams were not just beating us, but embarassing us, I would be quite happy with 3 out of 4. And if we’re going into a Pistons game with 8 out of 9, don’t think Detroit will come in napping. Be prepared to get beat soundly…then root for us to make it tough on them and pull out a huge win. :)

    On the other hand Kareem, I hear what you’re saying about the salaries, but I also think you’re being unfair to the current administration. Out of that ridiculous $124 million in ’05-’06, $26 million belongs to AH and Shandon…salaries the current administration is not responsible for, nor could they do anything about, nor are those two players even available on the court. So the reality is the team Zeke is responsible for has a $98 million payroll, $29 million of that (Penny, AD) expires at the end of the season, and another $16 million expires at the end of next season. Realistically, the ’06-’07 payroll is below $70 million without AH and SA…not triple what other NBA middle-tier teams are paying. You’re twisting this situation to suit your argument.

    If I look at what we have currently in place, $70 million doesn’t seem all that bad…if we just got rid of Malik and lazy Jerome James, we wouldn’t look bad at all in the pay vs. performance department in ’06-’07. Houston is at $69 million right now, and Orlando is at $74 million.

  27. I just want the season to pass (and the expiring contracts to expitre) as quickly as possible. Any win streak or improvement is gravy.

  28. “…if we just got rid of Malik and lazy Jerome James, we wouldn?t look bad at all in the pay vs. performance department in ?06-?07”

    And if the Raptors had Tim Duncan they’d be in the playoffs.

    I don’t think I’m shifting anything to suit my argument seeing as how the Knicks salary is what it is regardless of how it got there and Isiah did take on a lot of salary.

  29. But you are because you’re arguing that we need to get under the cap to have room to sign a free agent. It couldn’t have been done. Add it up Stephon + AH + Shandon = like $45 million. There is no way the Knicks could have been under the cap this year, no matter what they did in the offseason. Curry’s contract is meaningless in the face of the cap. At most you could argue that it will prevent us from getting to your goal in ’08-’09. Really, everyone other than the three guys I named above’s contract is meaningless to the cap. We are carrying $26 million, more than half the cap, for two non-roster players who are Layden’s legacy to us.

    What would you do if you were the GM right now? Trade Frye or Lee or Robinson? That won’t clear any salary. Trade Crawford? A paltry $7 mil. Malik, Mo, AD, Curry, James…untradeable. The only move you could make would be to trade Stephon (now that he’s playing well) but to do that would guarantee a 60 loss season, and you would have to take on a big salary player in return. You might be able to trade Penny, but his contract expires this year anyway, so why do it?

    I’m just waiting to hear an option… We are committed to this course right now whether you like it or not. I challenge you to come up with a scheme (that makes sense) that would get you far enough under the cap to sign an impact free agent in ’06-’07…or even ’07-’08 for that matter.

    Personally, I don’t think the stuation is as bad as you make it out. A quality win tonight. They played mediocre for 43 minutes, but when it came down to “winning time” as Kenny calls it, they closed out the win strongly on both ends of the floor. Which is precisely what a good team does to an inferior team when they have an off night…they let them stay in the game until the last 5 minutes, and then they close them out easily. They are showing a lot of promise right now, even if tonight was against Atlanta. :-)

  30. Please just ignore Kareem, I?m tired of him dominating and ruining what was once a premier NBA forum.

    It?s the same crap over and over: “the Knicks have the league?s highest payroll and they?re under .500” and “at least Atlanta has cap space” and “Denver did a great job of rebuilding” (guess what, Denver is under .500 too).
    How about this one “I?m only interested in winning titles”. Great… go to a Pistons blog or a Spurs blog and talk about winning titles, this is a Knicks blog and we?re talking about rebuilding and making the playoffs.

    Yes, Zeke has taken on a lot of payroll to rebuild this team, but in doing so he?s been able to get young players he feels (and I feel) are just as talented as those he could have gotten with high picks and through free agency.

    And guess what: he?s still managed to be a big player in the draft and free agency despite his payroll. Frye, Robinson, and Lee: what other team got three rotation players out of last year?s draft? I wouldn?t be upset if we had gotten a player of Ariza?s ability and potential in the mid-first, and Zeke was able to snag him in the mid-second.
    Bigtime free agents? Would you take a low-post scorer putting in 22 points/40 minutes with a PER of 18.6 and a rebound rate of 15.3? How about a PER 17.5 guard putting in 19.7 points/40 minutes and shooting an eFG% of 49.1?

    Let?s have some interesting discussions regarding the Knicks instead of revisiting the same tired topics over and over.

  31. Smiles all around – 6 wins feels real nice right now.

    I will only chime in on the Kareem bashing once and only once.

    Knickerblogger loves to talk about percentages right…I would love to see someone look up the amount of times Kareem has typed in the same grumpy played out statements.

    BTW- A few days back I said a win in Cleveland would be a huge win…I didn’t even fathom a win against Dallas – now that that’s in the past…a win against Detroit would be a miracle that I will be actively praying for. LET’S GO KNICKS!!!

    One more topic I think we should touch on:

    Does anyone feel like the refs are giving us better calls and more respect now that we’re winning some games – or are we playing better and now the refs don’t have to blow the whistle on our crappy play?

  32. I command you Kareem, to stop using the Lord’s name in vain!

    ’06-0! Feels pretty damn good!

  33. Count Z,

    Ignoring the point that these Knicks untradeable contracts are Zeke’s doing, here’s what makes sense moving forward: get a GM in who knows what the hell he’s doing and can make correct decisions. The reason I keep bringing up the amount of money the Knicks spend is that when evaluating what Isiah has done and is doing, it’s critical. When a GM has a a budget tripiling other teams, making moves to get a few young pieces should be expected. What should not be expected is to have a team this bad. I have no faith in a guy who took on Jerome James, Mo Taylor, Malik, Steph, and coughed up potential lotto picks for a rebuilding team in back to back years.

    Every day is another day the Knicks could have a GM who is smart and understands the offers that are out there. Be it trying to put together a KG trade, preparing for next years draft (oops, don’t have to worry about that one), or creating a long term plan for the future.

    Let’s put it this way, I don’t want anyone at the helm who signed Jerome James to a long term deal as recently as last offseason, so past that, here’s an alternative plan:

    Move the overpaid guys with (some) value like Steph and Q, move the Penny contract and anyone who might have (some) value if anyone will take them, get some lottery picks, and start giving the young guys tons of minutes with the goal of getting clear as soon as possible… if it’s doable, by next offseason. Yes, some of the guys Zeke got are young, but they’re being paid like stars already when they’re just rotation and bench players. This time, get guys who are appropriatly paid so you can use them as trading chips.

    This winning streak is great and all, but how low were your expectations if the current situation feels good? I’d rather have a guy in place who can be trusted to field trade offers daily and make correct personal decisions. Instead, the Knicks have a guy who does things that every NBA fan I know would know better not to do and every serious NBA analyst laughs at.

  34. “Move the overpaid guys with (some) value like Steph and Q, move the Penny contract and anyone who might have (some) value if anyone will take them, get some lottery picks…”

    Right there is where you lost me. Q is hardly moveable. He’s making $6 million plus, with three more years at $7-8 million, and a player option for a fourth year at $9 million. Who in their right mind wants that contract the way he’s currently playing? Your only hope is that he starts playing a lot better, then you can move him.

    Penny is movable, but only for one reason — his contract expires at the end of the season. So anybody who trades for him wants him only for an expiring contract situation. That means that in return for him, what you will get is a draft pick and another overpaid player with a contract that DOESN’T expire at the end of the season. Now who’s taking on bad contracts? That is exactly what Zeke did that got him stuck with Malik and Mo in the first place. EXACTLY.

    I’m unconvinced that your strategy is feasible.

    BTW, much as I malign Mo, he has been playing some sweet D during this run. Those two charges he took last night brought tears to my eyes. ;-)

  35. Maybe it’s not feasible, or at least without moving Frye. Maybe the Knicks are just screwed unless these guys develop to perform at the level they’re already being paid. I guess that’s the problem… how does a team end up with this many unmoveable contracts and no real trade assets?

    Ugh, if only Isaih had Isaih to trade with…

    And why do people seem ok with it when the team is still dismal? Being better than Layden’s Knicks isn’t really enough as far as I’m concerned. It’s been a long time since the Knicks haven’t sucked and it’s frustrating to see mistakes being made when the fans money affords them such an opportunity to have a strong team. Maybe for some of you it’s really exciting to have a 5 game winning streak after being lousy for this long, and if it represents real improvement, that’s great but there’s still no excuse.

    Let’s put it this way… there’s a reason everyone, from fans in other citys, to the national media sees the nonsense that’s going on and laughs at the Knicks and their fans. And it ain’t 20/20 hindsite… this was all seen coming.

  36. Ok, I’ve had it. Everyone, I’ve got an idea.

    I started coming to this forum a while ago to get insight into basketball and views of the NBA I never had access to before. Since Kareem doesn’t supply me with numbers or factoids that I didn’t know before, and since he’s been proven wrong many, many times, I’ve decided to just ignore him.

    Ignore him. That’s it. Now, let him post whatever he wants. This is the internet, and he has the right to say anything he wants. But if none of us read his posts or respond to them, then we can go back to discussions about the statistics without worrying about having to keep him down.

    I’m willing to give it a try.

  37. Our best plan is to sit on the contracts we have for the next two or three years and let them expire. Next year AD and Penny expire relieving $30 million off the cap (although we will have to use some of our mid-level to resign Ariza and Butler). The next season Allan Houston, Maurice Taylor and Shandon Anderson come off the books, reducing the salary to $59 million. The year after that, Malik Rose and Jerome Williams come off the cap, leaving our salary at $50 million. This figure could possibly be under the cap since the cap is generally increased 3% every year.

    By the 2007/2008 season, Curry/Frye/Butler will make a very strong frontcourt. Steph/Robinson/Crawford is a decent backcourt. Lee and Richardson will be able to handle all the minutes at the 3.

    It is pretty clear that we are in a rebuilding phase right now, so moving expiring contracts to accumulate bad contracts is definitely ill-advised. I think the optimal route is to develop our young talent and build for the future. Winning here and now is not feasible and any effort trying to do so will come at the expense of our young talent or the salary cap.

    The key to future Knicks success is PATIENCE.

  38. Karee,

    Who, this week, is laughing at the Knicks and their fans? Who was “laughing” at their fans even when they were stinking? The Hawks stink, and I haven’t had a negative thought about their fans, I haven’t even thought about their fans, and I’m sure their fans aren’t too concerned with you and me. If you’re all about championships, Kareem, why haven’t you already killed yourself? I mean, it’s been over 30 since we had one, since you can only enjoy yourself with a ring, I don’t know how made it this far…

    The 87-88 Knicks were 14-28 at the All-Star break…and I remember that year being a hell of a year, a lot of fun and exciting, and the year I got into basketball. I am enjoying myself as a Knick fan right now, and these guys, who are making 30 free throws in a row, play with energy, and score 105+ a game every night out, are fun to watch. I am NOT an accountant — if ALL you obsess over is contracts, than, indeed, you should find yourself another hobby. You can also root for the Raptors or the Nuggets or whatever ship you think is being run rightly, as there is no law against rooting-out-of-state.

    Not that you seem to get any joy out of actually watching a game…do you watch the games? Have they disappointed you this month by actually winning?

  39. hey o-boogie,

    i know it’s a minor detail, but i think under the new collective bargaining agreement, teams that want to re-sign second-round picks don’t have to worry about the cap or use their mid-level; i think they’re protected (somehow) by Bird rights.

    the issue came up because golden state couldn’t re-sign gilbert arenas, a second round pick, because they were over the cap. i think there is some protection in there for that situation.

    i’m not at all sure about this, so don’t take my word for it. it could end up being a big deal, like whether NYK can sign a good player in the offseason or not.

  40. Really an embarrassing loss and thorough butt-kicking in every quarter. But I guess the Knicks needed to be humbled.
    Tomorrow’s game against the Wolves might say a lot about this season: will the 6 game winning steak be followed by a 6 game skid and further inconsistency? Or can they come home to the Garden and regain the energy and poise which led to those 6 wins?

    Our D sucked. Although the Raptors offense is the 8th best and would be even better if Jalen Rose showed up like this every night.
    We blew it by not closing out quarters.
    I would have liked to see Ariza in early instead of Rose and maybe for a few minutes instead of Richardson. We’re such an explosive team with some length, athleticism, and energy on the wing. Plus, he might have slowed down Rose and/or Peterson.
    Crawford went back to the future going 2-7 on 3s.
    14 TOs is actually not bad for the Knicks, but they all seemed to come at exactly the wrong time, just as the Knicks were making a run.
    I don’t think Marbury took a FT in the 2nd half.

  41. I didn’t see the game, but the Knicks should immediately forfeit all remaining games. Their next public appearance should be the June draft. If Chicago chooses a good player, Isiah Thomas should be drawn-and-quartered the day after the draft.


  42. excellent work, dave crocket. i usually don’t like the sarcastic zeke remarks, but the “drawn and quartered” imagery was good stuff.

    : )

  43. I hope Isiah doesn’t fall in love and make a terrible trade to acquire Jalen Rose after he torched us today.

  44. Since we are capped out to all high hell.

    If the Raptors will take Penny for Jalen Rose and a #1 the one that they have from Denver.

    I would do it.

    I would also do a Jerome James for Earl Watson if Denver would do it.

    My logic is that the Knicks are so capped out as it is it doesn’t matter.

    Whether or not we have 2 contracts coming off the books this year or 1 coming off this year and one additional (Jalen Rose) coming off next year it just doesn’t matter.

    At least with Jalen they may win a few more games as he can put the ball in the basket, as the Knicks are not going to be able to get the defensive stopper that they need until the offseason and even then it is not a definate. So get a guy who can put the ball in teh basket and bust the zone like Jalen Rose. You also get a pick that you can use in the draft. Isiah has shown that he is great in the draft. Jalen Rose may also help you win some games next year when the Bulls will take our pick if it is half decent any way. Then J Rose will come off the books.

    I think it is worth it.

    Your thoughts?

  45. 1.hell no to j. rose signing, we need a lot of other pieces instead of another scorer, i.e. defense, rebounding shotblocking, also he takes minutes from young guys like Lee but the biggest factor is the DEFENSE. Zeke has to dump Marbury’s contract or some of the other dead weight for role players and/or a pass first point, too bad they wont trade rose for marbury.
    2. jj for watson, will never happen cuz KIKI is a disloyal prick and knows JJ should be NBDL.

  46. My zeal for that trade is to secure the pick from Toronto that they have from Denver.

    Right now Penny is going to slide off the cap and nothing else. At least they can trade Penny for Rose and have Rose play some limited minutes behind Lee coming off the bench to provide a spark. This way the pick that is going to Chicago this year won’t be as high as it will be otherwise. Next year Chicago hopefully won’t have to trade with the Knicks in terms of picks which they have the option to do so.

    At that point Rose is now a valuable expiring contract which you may be able to peddle to someone else for a defensive stopper. As of right now none are available on the market. Perhaps next year you can trade Rose for the stopper that we covet plus we will have gotten the pick from Toronto that could potentially be another player of David Lee or Nate Robinsons caliber.

  47. Kareem – Since you failed to leave your real email address when you post, I have no choice but say this publicly.

    Everyone here knows your opinion on Isiah. However right you may be, you’re not winning anyone over with your argument. In fact if there is anything you’re doing by taking such an unbending view, is make more people take up a position that is contrary to yours.

    In any case, I feel that you’re disrupting the flow of ideas here. With the more frequent use of profanities, it seems you’re getting frustrated because more people aren’t agreeing with your opinion. So I ask that you refrain from such posting.

    If I can offer an opinion, I think grabbing FIREISIAHTHOAMS.COM might be a good way for you to voice your opinion.

  48. First off, I swear in my day to day life when appropriate so that’s how I write and I assumed we were all adults on here, but if salty language offends anyone, I apologize. I am super agitated by the Knicks, not that people don’t agree with me. I love a good debate and am open to hearing counters to any opinion.

    The fact of the matter is this, the single most important factor regarding the long term success of the Knicks is management. And the Knicks, as most people are aware, are horribly, horribly, managed. Everything else, from the development of the young guys, to Larry Brown’s coaching decisions, to game by game break downs are all rearanging deck chairs on the Titanic.

    I feel like I’m in one of those movies where you come back from the future to warn everyone of imminant danger but people think it’s nonsense. Layden’s mistakes were clear to everyone and have kept the Knicks from winning, just as Zeke’s are now. When every national analyst is agreed on the subject, this is not hindsight, this is stating the obvious.

    I read a lot on the NBA and check a lot of blogs and have been for years. I have never seen a fan base as blind as the Knicks.

    The Celtics, who actually have a decent future ahead of them are in a crisis with a coach who is just not a fit. The main topic of debate amongst Celts fans then is this: How can we get rid of Doc Rivers? That, to me, makes sense.

    I am not saying this in any snide way: Ignoring the white elephant in the room, what are appropriate and meaningfull topics of conversation?

  49. Kareem, you can’t expect anyone to respect your opinion when you don’t respect theirs. Telling people their heads are burried in the sand, they don’t deal in reality, ignoring what other people say, etc. doesn’t show any respect for them.

    This has nothing to do with the Knicks sucking, because there are a lot of people that read & post here that feel the Knicks are headed in the wrong direction (myself included). With the way you are acting on this board, you’ve made it about you being right & anyone that doesn’t agree 100% wrong. It’s no longer about the Knicks, it’s about you being right. No matter what you think about the way this franchise, it’s still your opinion. Not fact. You shouldn’t be posting here until you’re ready to realise this is your opinion, and you might be wrong.

  50. Well, to be honest, I don’t have much respect for the opinions of people whose thoughts change from game to game, and go from the depths of despair to thinking the Knicks are on the cusp of greatness due to a 6 game winning streak.

    Also, some major points of contention have been bringing up what most people would consider “the obvious” to support arguments… The advantage of the Knicks payroll, the value of lottery picks, statisticly showing Sweetney and Curry are very similar.

    You want to see how crazy and controversial what i’m saying is, let’s do this: Pick any NBA message board and we’ll take what I’ve said about Isiah and the Knicks, post it, and see what the response is. If we could just come to an agreement on the simpler issues, it might make things a little easier… when i have to hear people say lottery picks are not important, it kind of submarines any kind of intellectual discussion.

    It’s also hard to make reasoned arguments when people are constantly changing the rules of it… First the Knicks are losing b/c they’re rebuilding until ’07, then the Knicks are hiring Larry Brown to win this year b/c they’re ready to win now, then the Knicks are losing and should take on salary b/c they won’t be clear of the cap until ’09, first round picks are important when the Knicks have them, unimprotant when they give them away…. it goes on and on in circles.

  51. giving up the ’06 pick isn’t bad because the ’06 draft is the weakest in years.

    because of the new collective bargaining agreement, this is the first year that high school players can’t declare, so you’re losing a half a dozen players right there. secondly, tons and tons of guys who weren’t sure what the age limit was going to end up being in the new CBA declared to for the draft last year, which stocked the draft so deep that it allowed NYK to nab a good player like David Lee at the end of the first round.

    those two forces have left the ’06 draft really bare. the pick that was sent to chicago won’t yield a really good player, so it was a good move to deal it for a 22-year-old widebody who, as LB said yesterday, is so gifted in the low post that he scores “by accident.”

    as far as swapping the ’07 pick, the knicks are going to be better than chicago next year because LB is a winning coach. he’s got nine previous stops before NYK, and he’s 9-for-9. meanwhile, chicago sucks, flat out.

    that said, NYK’s San Antonio pick in the ’06 draft will likely be useless, the best being some 21-year-old role player (of which they have plenty of and don’t need another.)

    remember, half the knicks active roster is 23 or younger. it’s not clear what adding another rookie is going to do to help them.

    i just watched a rerun of Game 7 of the 1994 Eastern Conf championship, NYK vs. Indiana. The Pacers were coached by Larry Brown, and their rotation consisted of McKey, Smits, ADavis, DDavis, Miller, Vern Fleming, Byron Scott, Haywood Workman, and some other guys I can’t remember. They were physically and mentally tough, played hard, played smart, and came within a Miller jumpshot of beating a darn good Knicks team in MSG in a Game 7. None of those guys — no, not Miller, and I’m not listening to any arguments in his favor — was a superstar. It was a bunch of role players who were really well coached. Check out all of LB’s teams. None of them have a ton of Hall of Famers. The Sixers: Iverson and role players. The Pistons: castoffs from other teams who were taught how to play together. It goes on down throughout his career.

    The Knicks roster is not perfect, but the last thing they need now is to start moving guys around, wheeling and dealing, turning the roster upside down again. What they need is stability, patience, and a tweak here or there.

    I know I suggested in this forum several weeks ago that an overhaul was necessary, but I’m now convinced that LB has taught Steph how to be a winning player, and re-watching that old Pacers team has reminded me about how much chemistry and role players matter over a sexy roster. It’s useful also to recall the 2004 Finals.

    In five years, Frye and Curry are going to be extremely difficult to deal with, David Lee is going to be playing the Charles Oakley role coming off the bench, and Nate Robinson will be a savvy x-factor guy who can change the momentum of a playoff series. Championship teams are won by veterans who have been through wars together. It takes time to build that.

    It’s going to be OK. It’s just not going to be OK RIGHT NOW! Only one team is going to win the title this year, and it ain’t going to be NYK. And that’s OK.

    I think it might be useful at this stage to have a dialogue about the upcoming trade deadline, and any moves NYK might want make. It seems like adding a veteran PG might be nice right around now! Meanwhile, David Lee is not the permanent solution at SF — he’s a PF — so that could be something that gets addressed. Unless Qyntel Woods steps up. It’s not inconceivable that he could be an impact player — remember, Starks and Mason came via the CBA. To understand what kind of talent Woods has, link here He slipped in the draft because he appeared to be a head case, which turned out to be true. But, a head case at 19 can be a mature young man at 24.

  52. “Well, to be honest, I don?t have much respect for the opinions of people whose thoughts change from game to game”

    If you don’t respect the other people, then you shouldn’t be posting here.

    “Pick any NBA message board and we?ll take what I?ve said about Isiah and the Knicks, post it, and see what the response is. ”

    That would be a good idea. You’ve hijacked enough of KB.Net threads into Kareem vs. everyone. If you have something to say that is going to diverge greatly from what the main topics, you should go to a message board instead.

  53. Well said KB. Opinions should be changeable to some extent, I mean there was a time where Shaq couldn’t win the championship and the Lakers were perenially underwhelming, then they won 3 straight. Jordan was once criticised for a lack of post-season success, 6 rings later, I’m sure plenty of people had to change their mind.

    Plus Isiah’s an easy target, the Knicks are an easy target, but I think we all know that it’s not easy to improve your roster in this day and age of the salary cap.

    How joyless and boring it must be to be constantly negative about a team – why watch and why care if you’re going to be that way? If you can’t enjoy a 6-win streak after a bleak start to the season then why sit in front of a computer typing out your negative thoughts? Maybe you should get out of the basement a little more – maybe you need to live a little!

  54. “Jordan was once criticised for a lack of post-season success, 6 rings later, I?m sure plenty
    of people had to change their mind.”

    Yeah, that’s 6 rings, not 6 games. A bit of a difference.

  55. “Yeah, that?s 6 rings, not 6 games. A bit of a difference.”

    Obviously. The point is just that opinions can change, and should change if performances improve. 6 wins in a row is a marked improvement over the first 28 games, where we could hardly even string 2 wins together.

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