Sometimes I have trouble sleeping. Especially if I come home pretty late after a night of quasi-partying (if hanging around at a big downtown pub/karaoke until 4 am qualifies). So when I came home last night I took my iPad, fired NBA League Pass up and started watching the already finished Spurs-Knicks game, knowing it would either relax my mind and lull me to sleep or keep me awake in an exciting manner but saving time in the morning after (I’d have already watched the game and would be ready to write the recap just jumping off my bed).
It seems like nowadays I just can’t get what I want, though (they say it’s something called life. I guess I have to agree). While Lady Farfa fell in a sound sleep as she always does – bless her sleeping pattern, time will go easier on her neural connections than it will on mine – I started watching the game. Pretty much at the middle point of the second quarter I kinda blacked out. The Knicks were down a million to nothing and the last thing I remember about that was a Mitch foul. I woke up this morning with the iPad in my face and a terrible feeling of general uneasiness. A quick mental check of everything that went down last night easily confirmed that everything went well: a nice aperitif in a cool place, dinner with friends in the best burger/meat joint of the city with some great Rosso di Montepulciano to boot, an invigorating walk through the city center and then three Belgian beers, a few minutes of impromptu Latin dances (Lady Farfa dances pretty well, I’m like a wooden log that occasionally stretches him arms out in rhythm – oh god I’m Julius Randle playing defense) and a more than adequate rendition of “I want it that way” that threatened to bring the place down, mostly thanks to the rampaging alcohol count and late hour.
So, everything went fine (apart from the fact that it looks like a 25-year old night and not a 36-year old one, which brings me to question myself about my lingering marginal Peter Pan insecurities, but then again, I’m rooting for the Knicks! It should be a given that I’m trying to reach Neverland even at this “advanced” age). My liver can more than take that booze. My personal issues that I wrote about in the last recap are going much better too. So what was this feeling?
Oh, the Knicks.
When I dozed off, they were losing 51-29 and putting on a display of atrocious all around basketball. You think you should get used with time to the trials of rooting for such a god forsaken team, but personally I ain’t. My mind treats every forthcoming Knicks game like it’s gonna be a new Game of Thrones episode between seasons 5 and 7 (season 8 is usually reserved for free agency, lottery and draft night. The Knicks drafting Mitch last year pretty much counts as the scene where Brienne of Tarth gets knighted. The Knicks signing Portis instead of renting capspace is that weird retconning Melisandre speech to Arya). So when a game devolves into a slugfest-y carnage of hopes and dreams, it sinks into my soul. And believe me, there’s nothing good with feeling emotionally downtrodden just before getting to sleep – and getting your forehead bashed by a falling iPad.
You think you’re ready to give up hope everytime, but you just can’t. That’s why I turned the iPad on again and kept watching as soon as I got awake. Well, what do you know, the Knicks were even more terrible. They were able to get down by 28 in the third before attempting a patented fake comeback on the heels of some inspired defense and a whack-a-mole appearance on the perimeter by Wayne Ellington. Of course they were never able to complete it (the closest they got was 105-98 which, hey, it was cool! But you knew it wasn’t going to get better than that, not when all you need is three more stingy defensive possessions and you’re playing Randle at the 5 for the decisive stretch) and that caused a little more reason for despair.
The game was pretty much over after RJ Barrett drove to the rim to try to get 105-100 but his (not bad) attempt caromed out of the rim after a few unlucky bounces. From there on, it was suckitude again everywhere.
But Farfa, you might say, you pretty much said nothing about the game!
You’re right, of course. There’s nothing to say about this game. The Spurs were too hot, the Knicks were too deflated, and our offensive sets are the stuff of legend (if we’re talking about Hoboken open mic night).
On to some individual remarks:
– I don’t think Fizdale’s Death Watch is gaining any traction right now. We end up being embarrassed most nights anyway but it happens in a way that allows Fiz to save face. The players compete even down 25! They’re giving their best effort out there even when outmatched! They don’t quit! That’s kinda true, but would you still eat at a restaurant where after having botched the entrees and the main dishes they brought to you, with the most dedicated smile ever, a very solidly cut pineapple?
– Julius Randle is the coriander that keeps getting confused and used as parsley.
– If you didn’t know, some people have a genetic trait that makes coriander taste like the Palomena Prastina bug. Maybe you’re not familiar with that bug, but I am, and I have that genetic trait. It’s like tasting soap mixed with cigarette ash.
– Seriously, this was Randle’s night: 14 points, 8 boards, 3 assist, 6 for 17 from the field (1 for 5 from three), 4 turnovers, -12 +/-. For the season he’s posting a cringe-y .010 WS/48, negative BPM and a precise 0.0 VORP. He’s basically a worse than replacement player at this stage. If you go look at his per game numbers (but away that Wicker Man prop guys, I’m not really going to argue raw box score stuff), though, you’ll see that his numbers are very par for the course with his last Lakers season. Only two things have changed, and pretty much everyone with at least 1-20 eyesight can guess which they are: turnovers and FG% (which is a function of shot distribution). Since no man is a island, and that counts even for basketball players, who do you think is to blame for how Randle is being used?
– So yeah: fire Fizdale. Randle can still be a good player, but someone has to step in and… you know, coach him.
– THE BEES! THE BEES!
– So you need defense in the last five minutes and don’t play neither Gibson nor Mitch at the five? Ok, Gibson played like shit last night, but I think he would have been very useful in bodying up Aldridge and not getting out of position on half of the defensive possessions.
– Mitch ended up playing 24 minutes and posted a strange line: 6-4-4-2-2. So basically he was invisible on the boards but popped out everywhere else. I still don’t understand how is it even possible that we’re not running at least 5 mandatory PnR sets with him every given night. Oh yeah, back to square one. It’s Fiz and the gang. If Mitch qualified, he’d be 6th in the League in BPM and second in WS/48. He’s dumb as fuck in some circumstances, but holy crap this is your best basketball player stop treating him like he’s John Salley
– Marcus Morris Sr. has perfected the art of padding scoring stats in the last minutes of a quasi-blowout. In a vacuum I don’t really like it, but it’s probably going to be useful come trade season.
– The fact that we’re taking for granted RJ’s production (not great, not good, but adequate for a rookie is more than enough) is a good sign for the kid. If he could play in a system where his strengths get enhanced instead of routinely snuffed we would be already be seeing better numbers from him. 15/5/3.5 in the first fifth of the season is not bad anyway. Now, if only his WS/48 weren’t in the negative…
– Frank had a nice stat line: 9 points, 9 assists, 6 (!!!) steals. He’s the third different Knick to tally 6 steals this season, in just 16 games. He also dunked the ball! Really!
– Wayne Ellington is good at coming off curls, but couldn’t we design a set that makes him open for standstill catch and shoots from time to time?
– The Dungeon is calling for Knox. I think it’s a good thing in the end.
Now, hear me out. I hope we win against Brooklyn. I think we can do it. I also think that, if we win, we’ll do that by indulging in bad basketball practices. So, what should we root for? What if they fire Fizdale sooner or later and then give the keys to another bad coach? How long does this have to go on? Is that hard to aspire for basic competence?