Preseason Recap: Celtics 97 – Knicks 84

Can you see it?

Look real hard.

I know, right now, it’s only there in fits and spurts, like a Sasquatch that dashes into view only to be just as quickly herded back into its pen in Area 51, that one might be tempted to doubt that they had seen it at all.

But I’m telling you, there’s the making of a real durned good ball-team here.

But, not to wax too poetic for a Sunday afternoon when most of us (and your humble correspondent) are girdlaing our loins for the Manichean, proto-fascist, ground-acquisition war/blood orgy that is NFL Sunday in America (Let’s go Jets!), but watching the ‘Bockers late last night, I almost whispered to my teevee, “Inchworm! Climb Mount Fuji! But slowly, slowly…”

And yes, I oft quote Issa during ballgames. It’s a real hoot when I do it in bars.

Long story short, even without the Great God STAT, there were flashes of…something…in last night’s tilt v. the right proper Bostonians. Crisp passes as the ball flitted around the perimeter till the open man drained an uncontested J, the likes of which haven’t been seen since Earl n’ Clyde were doing their thang. Rotating on D? Defending the rim? Sweet fancy Moses, who are these guys?? Of course, somewhere in the 3rd quarter, this wondrous bounty of winning b-ball, seemed to crawl into a hole and die, but for stretches there…

Anyhoo. Here’s a bit of, “The good, the bad and the random/jejune.”


Ray Felton – Ray-Ray finally had a game that implied why DW would lavish 15 million upon his rounded shoulders. He was confident in his shot, got to the rim quite a bit and generally hit the open man. I was semi-resigned to him being, “A faster Chris Duhon, “ so while 6-13, 16 points, 5 dimes, doesn’t exactly scream Nash 2.0, he held his own against the otherworldly Rondo. (And boy, isn’t “Balkman over Rondo” starting to look like one of the worst draft blunders ever?)

Danilo Gallinari – Someone must have told him that the 22’ ring on either end of the court isn’t an electrified fence or something because Il Gallo actually decided to take it to the bucket a few times. And lo! He had his best game so far. Go figure. There’s very few sights in this work-a-day world more enjoyable than Paul Pierce with a royally pissed-off look on his mug because he can’t fathom how he got whistled for hacking a guy (our Danilo) who runs like a drunk careening down 9th Avenue, crashing into mailboxes/streetlights, trying to avoid an imaginary cop.

Wilson Chandler – I’m convinced that someone fixed his shot this off-season. He’s holding the ball more out in front, using his legs and less launching the ball from behind his shoulders/fading away. It’s definitely working as Ill Will Chill’s looked like a legit SG for the first time, well…ever.

Landry Fields – He’s just got a knack. Granted, the bulk of his minutes came when the Knicks were going through one of their trademark, “Someone put cellophane over the hoop so there’s like, seriously no effing way we can score, ” stretches, but, He. Just. Makes. Plays. I think he’s gotta be in the rotation sooner rather than later.


Toney Douglas – Toney certainly didn’t do what Toney Douglas do in this one. His shot was off, he had gobs of sloppy turnovers, and the offense up and croaked when he was running it. Still, I have complete and utter faith that he’ll turn it around ASAP

Anthony Randolph – Oh, I so want him to be good. And you can tell by watching that he does too. Therein lies the problem. He so wants to do something that makes the crowd collectively go, “Ooo!”, that yanks the mob out of their seats and transforms them into a sea of suitors sooooo badly that he’s prone to some godawful blunders/seems like someone tought him how to play, like, yesterday. In addition, when he errs, like by say lofting a Jamal Crawford-esque off-balance 20 foot brick, he instinctively fires a glance towards the bench to see if he’ll get yanked. Screw Don Nelson, we as fans need to give AR unconditional love and maybe a nice card or some candy every chance we can get.

Mike D’Antoni – pick a rotation, Coach. Pretty please?


Mozgov! – Evidently, when Timofey got t’d up, he was saying to himself (and yes, when I imagine him speaking, it’s in Ivan Drago-style pidgin English), “I say, I no good with fouls. Referee say I talking to him. But I am talking to me! Now, when I foul. I say nothing…” Good times, good times.

Roger Mason Jr. – Is it me or does he look eerily like Larry Hughes out there. I don’t like him. Maybe it’s because he resembles Wee-Bay from the Wire, but the sooner Azubuike/Fields takes his pt, the better.

C’est tout, mes amis. I’m yoinked to watch the irrepressible John Wall and the goofily appealing Javale McGee tonight. In lieu of a separate game thread, feel free to add your thoughts on tonight’s game too. Even though the games don’t count, get them W’s!

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Robert Silverman

Hey, did you know that in addition to banging the keys here and occasionally for the NY Times and at ESPN, Robert is a playwright, an actor and a wand'ring mendicant/gadfly? He also once wrestled a bear...and lost.

39 thoughts to “Preseason Recap: Celtics 97 – Knicks 84”

  1. Just to show the world how much I hate football, I’m going to watch this preseason game against the Wizards…

    (ps– looks like D’Antoni’s starting lineup is going to be Felton, Chandler, Gallo, Amar’e, and Mozgov. Any one predict THAT as our 2010 opening day lineup at this time last year??)

  2. Also if D’Antoni plays the rest of the pre-season w/o going with regular season lineups/minutes the Knicks might not win another pre-season game this year. lol

  3. Toney Douglas doing what Toney Douglas do. I’d be hurt if he doesn’t make an All-Defensive team this year.

  4. God, Gallo’s killin’ us. Maybe he’s trying to kill his own trade value?
    I hope D’Antoni tries a lineup with Randolph at the 4 and Amare at the 5 at least once. I think that could work out for us.
    Rautins suddenly looking like a guy that needs to be cut.

  5. D’Antoni once again showing no desire to win… No Amar’e in the 4th and brings Rautins into the game for the first time, tie game, and lets him play it out… (Rautins, btw, looks well suited for the DLeague to start his career)

  6. I hope Coach D’A keeps this up in the regular season. Whereas most teams have “starting 5″s, he should institute a “closing 5”– Randolph, Douglas, Fields, Rautins, and Turiaf. You know– just for fun…

  7. Z,
    Agree on Rautins.

    Other observtions:
    Mason still a bum.
    Better game for Mozgov.
    Better game for Randolph.
    Much better game for TD.

    I like that we won this game. Even though it’s preseason, getting used to winning is important.

  8. Interesting game. I think the positives outweigh the negatives.

    Some observations:
    -we have yet to see Gallo play well consistently (he is still playing good D and rebounding better). he lacked any sense of fluidity tonight when driving. he is definitely being more aggressive it just doesn’t seem to be working sometimes.
    -rebounding, in general, is scary. the knicks rebounded pretty well by committee tonight.
    -outside shooting is very inconsistent which makes choosing the 2 guard in the rotation difficult for D’Antoni.
    -Randolph is so inconsistent it’s hard to trust him but, man, if he plays 3/4 games the way he played tonight he will definitely help us win games. glad to see D’Antoni giving him a long leash. that’s the right move at this stage and even into the regular season. he needs reps.
    -nice to see Felton have 2 very solid games in a row. he’s been going up against some stiff comp in Rondo and Wall
    -Mozgov’s contributions are positive. Period. If he progresses a lot after getting used to the league. He could be really good. He has excellent feet. Good shotblocking instincts. Nice touch. Good court vision.

    Rotation Talk:
    Starters – Felton, Chandler, Gallo, Amare, Mozgov – i like how Moz starts games. As Breen said he is making new strides in his game (which is surprisingly complete) every night.

    Bench (in order) – Randolph, Douglas, Fields, Turiaf, Walker, Mason, Rautins etc. In addition I would only go 9 deep to start the year. Mason doesn’t deserve the time. Rautins is definitely not ready. Game looks too fast for him. Walker hasn’t played enough.

  9. Rautins looked beyond God awful tonight. Nice to see them win the game, loving Fields right now.

    I dont know how much better the numbers will be, but to me the Knicks look sooooooooooo much better on defense its real nice to see. Not just the improved shot-blocking (they are averaging slightly over 6 blocks per game) but just the overall intensity and hustle on defense is a sight for sore eyes. I mean they are actually rotating on defense and forcing turnovers and 24 second violations!!

    Also it was pretty obvious Amar’e was pissed about his first half performance, he came out like a man possessed on both ends of the floor in the 3rd quarter. I am as big a Gallo fan as anyone here but it really has been disappointing to see him so far because he looks identical to last season, no signs of improvement whatsoever. He did rebound well in the 1st half though.

  10. Two questions about offensive rebounding. Place your bets, gents:

    1) How many regular season games will the Knicks have played before grabbing more offensive boards than their opponents.

    My guess: 10.

    2) In offensive rebounding percentage, where will the Knicks place at the all-star break?

    My guess: dead last.

  11. I didn’t see last night’s game (thanks for the recap Robert) but tonight Felton looked so much better than he has in the previous 3 I saw- didn’t shoot great but looked like he’s starting to get a feel for the offense.

    Only 1 foul in 20+ for Mozgov!

    Again, I didn’t see last night’s game (Gallo’s best?) but Gallo looks less likely to make a big step forward than Chandler (and I’m not sure how big a step Chandler looks ready to take). Hopefully, Gallo will close the preseason strong but he’s had a couple of really awful games.

    John Wall looks like a real difference maker (big surprise!)

    JaVale McGee- 6 blocks in 16 minutes. Is he (or Blache) going to be a difference maker this year? I think this game showed how up in the air the last few playoff spots are going to be- are the Knicks going to be better than the Wizards, 76ers, Nets, etc… I think to the talent level of all of those teams is pretty close- we could wind up anywhere from 6-13 in the conference. This is where D’Antoni needs to earn his money.

  12. Wall can’t shoot yet, but he will be great, no doubt.

    I’m not worried about Gallo at all. He is moving better than last year and will come around. At this point, I am only worried about the 1, 2 and 5, and of course, rebounding.

    Has anyone noticed that we are forcing a ton of turnovers? Great sign.

  13. CGreene –

    Not sure I agree with you about Felton. He still didn’t look very good to me. He’s like a faster version of Duhon so far – which is fine on D (thought I haven’t seen the intensity I was hoping for), but on O, can we really handle another season with a point who continually penetrates and then gets blocked or has to pull the ball back out? Yikes.

    Otherwise, lots of positives. AR was decent tonight – missed a putback dunk, but his shot was going down and he was pretty active in general on D and rebounding. TD was obviously much more impressive. Phew! And Mozgov – well, this dude looks like he’s the real deal. Doesn’t mean he’ll be dominant this year, but to me it seems like he could dominate in years to come. Seriously. He’s so quick! he’s got lateral speed, and he’s up and down the floor fast…basically, he just needs to continue to learn the game. he has the physical gifts to be a force. And he and Felton seem to have a little chemistry, which is good.

    What’s interesting is that Gallo was way off and STAT did not have a very good game, and yet the Knicks still had enough weapons to get it done. This year, as I’ve said, is all on D’Antoni’s shoulders: he has a lot of young (fourth youngest team in the league) inexperienced players, and expecting consistency is expecting too much – so every night he’s going to have to figure out who’s got it going and then lean on that guy. Could literally be a different guy every night. I mean, I do expect STAT to be fairly consistent, but otherwise it’s a crapshoot. D’A can make that work, though, if he’s flexible.

    Oh – and yeah, sorry, but Rautins was godawful. Man. My question is whether Fields is earning real minutes by the end of the year. In some ways, he’s been one of the most consistent players this pre-season.

  14. Fun fact: Rautins has a guaranteed contract this season. For more than the rookie minimum. For a guy who was lucky to be drafted in the first place.

  15. My observations after the preseason games:

    1. Amare is far from only effective on pick and rolls. He is the most complete inside outside post threat in the game. (over bosh and gasol) He can drop 30 a game in this offense and I think we might need him to.

    2. While chandler is playing amazing right now…. Fields can replicate what he does in due time. Has the same skill sets (I still dont buy into chandlers “shooting touch”… every time he shoots it i scream NOOO. Fields also seems to have a tremendous BBall IQ. Not saying hes good for us at SG… just that he makes chandler expendible.

    3. I bought into the Randolph hype and previously posted that he should not be included in any Melo deal. I change my mind. Unless Dantoni develops him into a rebounding and shotblocking center… he will lose multiple games for us this season. ( I can see the patented “Harrington hang” after a dunk 2-3 times this season)

  16. I watched last night.
    The most exciting part of it was how the Knicks D elevated the team. There were a couple series where they consistently contested shots, blocked several around the hoop and then pushed the ball the other way. Mosgov and Randolph are very quick leapers. And Turiaf brought a refreshing toughness to the Knicks, ala Mason. He would do something very aggressive and then strike that “I didn’t do anything body language.”
    I loved that D’Antoni is letting the young guys earn their way. The 4th is theirs, and he’s coaching them to stay in the game. Again, refreshing. This team doesn’t have an air of desperation and they appear to be a fairly tight group.
    Douglas’ cut to the rim was sweet.
    Rautins just seems lost. His shot from three never seems to have enough air to reach. Of all the Knicks, he’s the most obvious D-leaguer, or back bencher.

    On a side note, being a DC-area resident, I have to say I was pleased that the Wiz look like a credible team this year. They’ve got Wall and a few other exciting players. The east is going to be interesting, top to bottom.
    If Wall can raise his shooting percentage, he could quickly become a great PG.

  17. Frank O.,

    I think the keys to Wall’s effectiveness will be his shooting efficiency (which wasn’t great in NCAA ball) and his turnover rate (4.2/36) isn’t that of an All-NBA PG. (Ty Lawson’s TO/36, by comparison, was a stunning 2.2 last season, as a rookie in the most talented and competitive basketball league in the world.)

    If he becomes a high usage player (if? more like when?), he’s going to force a lot of shots, turn the ball over a lot, and take a serious beating on that tiny frame. I know he’s 6’4″, but his frame looks quite narrow for an NBA player.

  18. Frank O – I agree. One difference this year is that with our new ability to defend and with a deep lineup of guys all wanting to prove themselves, there won’t be a lot of nights where we get blown out – which also means there are some nights we may come back and steal a game based on defense alone and a lucky shot or two at the end.

    Garson – I agree with all your points. We will absolutely need Amare to score 30 a night. Fields very much seems like Chandler redux, which considering Chandler is a solid pro who will likely get paid to go elsewhere next year as the Knicks hold on to cap space for CP3 or Deron, is a very good thing. Great second round pickup. And Rautins doesn’t seem permanently hopeless – just hopeless right now.

    I’d hold on to AR, though, mostly because we don’t want to be weighed down with a max deal to Melo. I mean, AR + Curry for Melo would be great, except that the Nuggets will never make that trade and Melo would want to be extended at the max, which we should never do (but someone will). it’s a losing proposition for both teams. Especially after seeing Felton in a few games, I’m convinced we need a PG more than anything; mozgov is going to be good, Amare is good, Gallo/Wil/Fields/someone will emerge at the 3, we have a few possibilities at the 2 (I’ve always been high on Buke), but without a great PG, we’ll never contend.

    Speaking of potentially great PGs, Wall impressed me. I had kind of bought into the idea that he was overrated…and then you see he’s the fastest player on the court, plays with intensity and focus and poise, and you think, hmmmm, maybe the basketball people know more than that stat people after all. I guess we’ll see – but it’ll be exciting to watch him develop, either way.

  19. @15– not just offensive rebounding%. This could be a historically bad defensive rebounding team too, from what we’ve seen is preseason.

    @19– yeah, WUWD (what up with dat). Why does Rautins make 25% more money than Fields this season?? (Forget Leon Rose. That guy is the best agent in the NBA!)

    @20– interesting about Fields and Chandler. Big difference I see is Chandler when he first got PT was an obscene chucker. Al Harrington like in his commitment to throwing up the shot. He’s gotten more disciplined, but Fields steps on the court already possessing discipline. He seems very polished, and I’ll bet he improves his shooting quickly and becomes an impact contributor in this league very quickly.

    Not to play matchmaker or anything, but maybe Fields could be Owen’s future mancrush, now that the General has moved onto the Castro…

  20. rama: but without a great PG, we’ll never contend.

    I agree that a Chris Paul would be a huge addition. I also agree that Raymond Felton is a bad starting PG. I don’t think the Knicks need a great PG to contend, though. Perhaps one could argue D’Antoni needs a great PG. Few title winners have great PGs, though, and the Knicks could upgrade at another position while only using a good PG just as easily as they could upgrade to a great PG (depending on future circumstances).

    Z: Why does Rautins make 25% more money than Fields this season??

    I don’t know why he gets paid more. Perhaps his agent got an offer from Europe or something while Fields was set on the NBA and underplayed his hand. I don’t know what both their contract figures are, but it seems as likely Fields got duped as that Rautins got overpaid.

    Rautins was not lucky to get drafted, though, as previously stated. His shot was going to get him drafted if the Knicks passed. I’m not saying he would have been my pick, but he was going to get drafted.

  21. Is anyone concerned about the rebounding on this team? The inability to limit scoring chance by securing defensive boards is going to hurt this team. Against Boston the Knicks only secured 3/5th of the total defensive rebounds available. Things didnt get better vs the Wizards. How can you have the makings of a darned good team without even average rebounding?

  22. Thomas B.: Is anyone concerned about the rebounding on this team? The inability to limit scoring chance by securing defensive boards is going to hurt this team.Against Boston the Knicks only secured 3/5th of the total defensive rebounds available. Things didnt get better vs the Wizards. How can you have the makings of a darned good team without even average rebounding?  

    I hear you Thomas. The rebounding has been really bad so far, and it’s a problem. It’s why I wrote, “The makings of a durned good team,” instead of saying, “This is a playoff team NOW.”

    They’re going to get outrebounded most nights w/o a significant uptick from the frontcourt as a whole. D’Antoni’s Phoenix teams had the same problem. From ’04-’08, they grabbed 300-400 fewer offensive boards/year than their opponents. That’s about a -5 Orebs/game differential. It didn’t matter because they were scoring so efficiently, but it doesn’t look like this squad can replicate that.

    That said, they do look like could be a better defensive squad than any MD’A has ever had, which could mitigate some of the problems on the boards.

  23. maybe this should be its own thread, but how would you break out minutes this year? Here’s my take:

    PG: Felton 30, Douglas 18
    SG: Chandler 34, Rautins or Walker14
    SF: Galinari 33, Chandler 4, Randolph 11
    PF: Amare 28, Randolph 20
    C: Mosgov 28, Amare 10, Turiaf 10

    I think that once Azubuike comes back he takes 1/2 the SG time and the rotation is:

    PG: Felton 30, Douglas 18
    SG: Azubuike: 30, Chandler 18
    SF: Galinari: 33, Chandler 15
    PF: Amare 24, Randolph 24
    C: Mosgov 28, Amare 20

    That’s a tight 9 man rotation.

  24. I agree Robert that it is very hard–perhpas impossible–to win or compete for a title withou strong defense or rebounding. I do like some of what i see on this team. I owe Landry Fields a beer and a steak after what I said about him draft night. He really has worked his way into the rotation as the 9-10 man perhaps at least until KA returns.

    Andy Rottens needs to spend some time in the DL. Sure he can stroke it but if you arent fast enough to create space, what good is the great stroke? Which leads to my this question:

    Let’s say the NBA had to have an emergency draft for some reason and every team can only protect 10 players. Who do you leave unprotected?

    I leave Rautins, Curry, Mason, PEJ, Williams, and Felton unprotected. What would you guys do.

  25. I’m not ready to bail on Felton yet. He is still the best PG on the team. Sorry, TD, I love your hustle but you’re just not there yet. Anyone who thinks TD is a 36mpg PG at this point is misguided. Felton may be among the worst starting PGs in the league, but he was in fact a starting PG for a playoff team last year. He is also an expiring contract next year.

    Hopefully Walsh will pull a “Mozgov” at the PG position, i.e. an out-of-the-blue steal of a decent player. Barring that or a trade, we better get used to Felton. Personally, I’d rather have him than tie up multiple years of cap space for the likes of Ridnour.

  26. This’d be my rotation:

    PG: Felton 32, Douglas 16
    SG: Chandler 28, Douglas 10, Fields 10
    SF: Galinari: 36, Randolph 8, Fields 4
    PF: Amare 24 Randolph 20, Chandler 4
    C: Mosgov 24, Amare 12, Turiaf 12

  27. This is my 10 man rot. to start. I give Chandler 2:1 odds to be the first Knick traded.

    PG: Felton 32, Douglas 16
    SG: Chandler: 28, Fields 14, Douglas 6
    SF: Gallinari: 32, Walker 16
    PF: Amare 20, Randolph 28
    C: Mosgov 24, Amare 16, Turiaf 8

    While Felton is definitely in the bottom half in pg’s, I wouldn’t say he’s “among the worst”. At least not yet.

  28. ess-dog: While Felton is definitely in the bottom half in pg’s, I wouldn’t say he’s “among the worst”.At least not yet.  

    Assuming salaries/cap ramifications aren’t part the equation, I’d rather have PG X over Felton. Where X = Paul, Williams, Nash, Rondo, Rose, Kidd, Parker, Harris, Jennings, Curry, Wall, Nelson, Billups, Lawson, Westbrook.

    (And you could make a case for adding Holliday, Miller, Sessions and Calderon to the above group)

    So yeah, he’s somewhere in the 16-20 range out of 30 starting pgs. Not awful, but it’s certainly why DW’s widdle heart has to be set on CP3/DWill in a year or so.

  29. Thomas B.: I agree Robert that it is very hard–perhpas impossible–to win or compete for a title withou strong defense or rebounding.

    Come on… Win a title? The Knicks need to make the playoffs, win more games than they lose… that would be a great season.

    Z-man: I’m not ready to bail on Felton yet.

    Not after 5 terrible years in Charlotte?

    Z-man: Anyone who thinks TD is a 36mpg PG at this point is misguided.

    At some point, if Douglas is a better enough player than Felton (and I’m not saying he necessarily is, though I hope he will be) you play him even if he’s not a “true” PG. TD is a stronger defender and a stronger scorer and Felton is only a bit above average as a playmaker, so I would give the overall edge to TD in all likelihood (we’ll have to see how they play in the regular season, though). I know, D’Antoni is going to stick with his new NC college BFF like he did the last one. I hope Felton can justify that faith, but then again I also hope TD plays well enough to make it an issue.

    ess-dog: While Felton is definitely in the bottom half in pg’s, I wouldn’t say he’s “among the worst”. At least not yet.  

    Not yet? He’s been in the NBA for 5 years already…

    Robert Silverman: So yeah, he’s somewhere in the 16-20 range out of 30 starting pgs.

    I would call 20 the best case. And even then I’d say he’s a lot closer to 30 in terms of value than, say, 15ish in terms of value. I would add a few guys to your list (Tyreke Evans, Aaron Brooks, Collison… and amd consider Conley, Mario Chalmers, Baron Davis…)
    Felton’s career TS% is literally .493 and his playmaking is nothing more than solid… Maybe he can have another career year and then I might agree with 16-20.

  30. I’m not saying Felton is trash. I’m saying if I HAD to leave someone in the wind, it would not be Fields.

  31. Thomas B.: Let’s say the NBA had to have an emergency draft for some reason and every team can only protect 10 players.Who do you leave unprotected?I leave Rautins, Curry, Mason, PEJ, Williams, and Felton unprotected. What would you guys do.  

    In your hypothetical expansion draft, I’d leave Turiaf unprotected. He stands to make $4.3 million next year and it wouldn’t be heartbreaking for that number to simply disappear.

    Probably would leave Walker unprotected too, thanks to our log jam of mediocre 2 guards.

    I’d keep Rautins, just for the sake of honoring our hard earned draft picks. He could prove valuable, given time to adjust to life in the NBA.

    So I guess my “unprotected” list would be: Turiaf, Walker, Curry, Ewing, Williams, and Mason.

    But I’d expect to be left with all of these players at the end of the draft, as I’m sure the “bottom 6” of other teams in the league are more desirable than this motley assortment of flotsam and jetsam.

    (And Fields is, as you agree, a no-brainer. Expand the mock-draft protection to only 5 current players and I’d still hold onto Landry. (In ranked order of protection I’d list them at: 1) Gallo; 2) Randolph; 3) Amar’e; 4) Mozgov; 5) Fields; 6) Douglas; 7) Chandler; 8) Felton; 9) Azubuike; 10) Rautins…))

  32. @35 Ted, the key words are “yet” and “at this point.” I actually hope they both play well, and would be thrilled if TD outplays RF, but at this point in time I give the edge to Felton, although admittedly not by a lot.

  33. PS neither is the long-term answer, IMO, and either could be trade bait in a package for a clearly better PG option at any point.

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