Game 4: Nets 100 Knicks 94

I’m less upset at the sweep of the Knicks than the Nets then I thought I would be. I’ve had plenty of time to prepare for this since the end of the regular season. Most of my dealing with the loss came after game 3, when an 0-3 series meant the end for the Knicks.

That being said, I’m relatively happy with how the last game went. I would have liked to see more of Sweetney or DerMarr, but Lenny gave enough minutes to Frank Williams to keep me going. Williams played well, better than his 11 points, 4 assists, and 5 fouls line in the box score. He played 31 minutes at PG, and allowed Marbury to shift to SG, keeping Shandon Anderson (18 minutes) on the bench. The worst part of his game was his lack of confidence in his shooting. Twice he passed the ball instead of taking the open shot. Other than that, he played solidly, including his man to man defense on Jason Kidd.

Williams showed his temper again, this time shoving Richard Jefferson after a rebound. The replay showed Jefferson pushing Williams with his arm to try to get the rebound. The play didn’t cost the Knicks any points, and the Knicks PG got away with showing his toughness without hurting his team. Unfortunately his days as a Knick are probably numbered, due to the team already having their best player at PG and Isaiah’s willingness to pull his finger on a deal.

Nazr Mohammed was a disappointment. His Achilles heel, personal fouls, kept him on the bench for extended periods of time. If he doesn’t make an attempt to improve his defense in the offseason, and reduce the number of fouls he commits he’ll never be worth anything more than a backup center. Despite having 4 fouls, he put up decent numbers in games 1 and 3. His disappearing act in games 2 & 4 (10 fouls, 7 points, & 9 rebs total) hurt the Knicks. The inconsistency is as maddening as his ying & yang skill set. He’s can be a force on the offensive end. His post up game is solid, and is rebounding is spectacular. On the other end of the court, his defense is atrocious, both as a one on one defender and as a help defender. Right now all he is good for is to come off the bench and provide punch on the offensive end.

Nothing to Say

I came in this morning and the guy next to me just about summed up the Knicks game yesterday. “I won’t bring it up today,” he said. I agree with that sentiment. There are a million things a Knick fan could whine about, but in reality they just lost. The Nets were a better team, and the shorthanded Knicks just don’t have a chance at taking the series. I may have something to say when it’s all over, and things are in better perpsective.

I’m hoping that Wilkens will give some of the youngsters plenty of time in game 4. The Knicks aren’t going to come back from 0-3, and the best thing they can do is give Sweetney, Williams, and Johnson plenty of time. Maybe even Baker as well & see what he can do. We know what everyone else is capable of. I don’t need to see Deke, Shandon “5 for 22” Anderson, or Nazr “12 PFs” Mohammed anymore.

Stay tuned though. This weekend I’m going to witness the NFL draft first hand, and I have a column half written about my idea of how the NBA should handle the playoffs/lottery. I’ll probably have something to say on the continuing NBA playoffs, and analysis about the Knicks going into the new season.

Gloat Across the Moat

One of the things that really pumped me up about watching last night’s game was a post by a fellow blogger. Joe Netsfan wrote a lovely piece “eulogizing” the Knicks after the Nets won only the first game. In his column, he proceeded to insult:

the Knicks coach,
“The Knicks…are coached by a legendary-but-long-past-his-coaching-prime man named Lenny from Brooklyn. He’s forgotten more than Lawrence Frank’s enormous brain has had a chance to learn, but that’s the whole problem. He can’t seem to remember it…”

their injured players,
“Tim Thomas’ injury on a hard-but-legal foul is unfortunate, but all that does is make the Knicks that much more weakened. As if the Nets needed any help from the Knicks in that department…Hell, unleash Allan Houston. He’s more precious than fine china, and couldn’t stand the bump-and-grind he’s likely to face.”

their heart,
“Of course, now the softer-than-DQ Knicks are saying all the right things, about how it’s only one game and they’re going to guarantee no more easy looks near the hoop. So, now they’re talking tough? That’s what makes the Knicks softer still – they can’t even find the right notes to play, ones that would actually convince us that they can back it up.”

their GM,
“What I’m telling you is this – the Knicks will have the life choked from their Isiah Thomas-built Frankenstein-esque roster no matter what the Knicks show up with.”

and their fans,
“Go softly into the night, Nicky Knicksfan. Do not cry because you’ve been beaten by the better team.”

Ouch!

I’m glad Joe has decided to reach out to us Knick fans with his liver. As Jason Kidd learned in game one, it’s easy to taunt someone lying on the floor while you’re standing over them. I’d thought that Joe Netsfan wouldn’t try to allientate Knick fans, since we give them our money when we show up in droves to help them fill their largely empty arena.

I’ll fully admit that the Nets are the better team this year, but isn’t it a little too early to gloat? I hope his article made him some extra friends out in the swamps. After that column, Joe won’t have any New Yorker’s shoulders to cry on when the Nets lose to the Pistons, are unable to sign a free agent (thanks Alonzo & Dikembe), and move the franchise to our city.

Nets 99 Knicks 81

I said in my last column that I would be ready for whatever happens this game. Well, its going to take a little more chewing before I can swallow this loss. It was a game that I thought would have a lot of potential for excitement on both ends of the court. Unfortunately, the Nets were the only team to live up to their end of the bargain.

The Knicks played better this time out, but better was nowhere near good enough. The closest they got was to cut the lead to 10 in the third. They did it with their defense, holding the Nets scoreless for 7 minutes. Rodney Rogers made sure that it would be as close as the Knicks got. Rogers drained a 3 on the right hand side to put the Nets back up by 13, and the Knicks never got close again.

I was disappointed at the lack of the X-factor that I was looking for prior to the game. Dermarr Johnson didn’t appear until garbage time, despite the poor play by Shandon Anderson. Sweetney was a non-factor. Dekembe Mutombo was the only interesting new character in the series. He played well, and showed a little fire, exchanging words when he was the recipient of a K-Mart hard (technical) foul.

Shandon Anderson played downright awful. He was just as ineffective on offense (9pts 27% eFG%), as he was covering Jefferson (20pts 54% eFG%) on defense. Anderson looked like that guy at the park that everyone leaves open because they’d rather have him shoot that anyone else on the court. Kurt Thomas rebounded (no pun intended) nicely from his poor first game, with 18 points and 12 boards. Clearly the Knicks miss having another scorer. Someone else should have been taken Shandon Anderson’s 15 shots.

The Nets employed a trap at times that strangled the Knicks. The first time they let loose on it, Marbury choked the ball up for an easy New Jersey 2 points. Only once during the time I was watching (I shut the game off with 3 minutes left) did they beat the press the way you’re suppose to, getting the ball down court for a 3 on 2 advantage. Even then they didn’t convert any points, due to a fantastic strip by Kenyon Martin. It’s going to be a quick series if the Knicks can’t beat what every high school in the country faces.

Knicks – Nets Game 2

I’m pumped up for tomorrow’s game. The Knicks were underdogs in this series, but they were the trendy pick for a first round upset. The argument goes that the midseason changes made the Knicks better than their sub .500 record indicates. In addition there is doubt that the Nets aren’t that strong of a team, with most prognosticators having Indy and Detroit fighting to represent the East in the Finals.

Let’s not forget the geographical vicinity of the two teams. Walk north from MSG about 8 blocks to the port authority bus terminal & you’re only 15 minutes away from the Nets’ home court. It must irk the Nets’ players that when they face the Knicks in East Rutherford, there is plenty of orange and blue in the house.

If the first game was a boxing match, the Knicks would have hit the canvas twice, but gotten up with a bloddy nose. In fact at times it did resemble the squared circle, with Frank Williams and Tim Thomas taking hard shots. Thomas got the worst of it all, and probably won’t play Game 2. Williams was the only one to fight back with a shove that cost his team a possession, but saved some face with the Knick fans that reminisce over guys like Oakley, Sprewell and the X-man.

The Knicks always seemed to play their best wounded and trapped in a corner. They don’t always win, but the effort seems to be there. These are the kind of games I like to watch, when you don’t know what will happen next. The allure of team sports is the possibility that anything could happen on any given night. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kurt Thomas took out his team’s frustration on one of the Nets tomorrow. I wouldn’t blink an eye if Tim Thomas or Allan Houston decided to step on the court and give it a try. The game is as likely to go clean without a hitch.

There are so many possibilities on who might step it up tomorrow for the Knicks. Penny Hardaway is running the point. DerMarr Johnson will see more playing time, due to injuries. Sweetney and Deke will likely see more time. Maybe Kurt Thomas has let that 1-10 game simmer, and has something to prove against K-Mart.

Whatever happens, I’m looking forward to it. I’m fully prepared for what will happen, be it another let down, a nail biter, or a boastful victory. For now I’ll let the anticipation keep me happy until game time.

2004 Bloggers Bracket

Welcome to the KnickerBlogger 2004 Bloggers Bracket. First prize is Blog bragging rights for the year, and I’ve assembled a cast of the best bloggers around the country to participate. The rules are simple, you get a point for every correct team that you pick. In the unlikely event of a tie, tiebreakers will be taken by closest to the final score of the final game. All entries were sent to me before the first game was played on Saturday. First let’s meet the contestants:

Jon Hollinger – Jon’s blog says it all: “The Basketball Page for Thinking Fans.” Mr. Hollinger offers intelligent analysis with his “From the Baseline” blog at alleyoop.com. These days he’s moved on to real publishing, authoring the all encompasing Basketball Prospectus. The third edition covering the 2005 season is scheduled to be released in October, and I already have mine on order.

Kevin Pelton – Kevin fits the mold of Moneyball: logical, young, open-minded, and intelligent. He’ll use statistics to get a better understanding of any player or team. Whether it’s trying to understand how good Okafor might become, or if Gilbert Arenas is worth $7M. You’ll never know what topic he’s going to jump into at his Page23 blog.

Ron HitleyHornets247 has one of the most prolific blog writers. Ron’s articles are long, but he keeps the pace up with lots of quick tidbits. Check him out for the playoffs, since he’s likely to have something written something about every team.

Michael Avalone – The first page I’m going to in the morning is Michael Avalone’s Knicks Clicks. He’s got all the latest news about the Knicks, and I mean ALL the news. Like a young Dekembe Mutombo, nothing gets past him.

Scott Carefoot – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Scott is the best blogger out there. Scott isn’t ultra popular up north because of his cute little image before every post. Just read this post, which is maybe the best blog post I’ve ever read.

Tim KrausTim is my new best friend, thanks to my lucky picks in the NCAA pool. Always watching from the End of the Bench, Tim has the whole NBA covered, including those who cover the NBA.

Matt Bernhardt – The lowly Bulls don’t deserve such a good blogger. Although their lowly stature has supplied Matt with enough things to critique, Matt doesn’t stick to the Windy city, and comments on things outside of the game, including the plight of the college athlete, Mark Cuban’s weblog, etc.

Now on to the Picks:

BLOG:	Jon	Kevin	Ron	Michael	Scott	Tim	Matt	Me
EAST FIRST ROUND
E1v8 IND IND IND IND IND IND IND IND
E2v7 NJ NY NJ NJ NJ NJ NJ NJ
E3v6 DET DET DET DET DET DET DET DET
E4v5 MIA MIA NO MIA MIA NO NO MIA
WEST FIRST ROUND
W1v8 MIN MIN MIN MIN MIN MIN MIN MIN
W2v7 LAL LAL LAL LAL LAL LAL LAL LAL
W3v6 SAS SAS SAS SAS MEM MEM SAS SAS
W4v5 DAL DAL SAC DAL DAL SAC SAC SAC
SECOND ROUND
E2-1 IND IND IND IND IND IND IND IND
E2-2 DET DET DET DET DET DET DET DET
W2-1 MIN MIN MIN MIN MIN MIN SAC MIN
W2-2 SAS LAL LAL LAL LAL LAL SAS SAS
FINALS
EAST DET DET IND IND DET DET DET IND
WEST SAS LAL LAL LAL LAL LAL SAS MIN
CHAMP SAS LAL LAL LAL LAL LAL SAS IND
Score 82-78 89-80 87-81 110-95 93-86 90-75 90-82 91-84

In the East it looks like Indy, the Nets, and the Pistons are locks for the second round. Only Kevin has an upset here, by taking the Knicks. This is surpising, since both Knick bloggers have the Nets winning (us wimps!). Miami is a slight favorite over the Hornets. You have to give it to Ron, who is a much better fan of his home team than I am.

In the West, there is little room for upset where Minnesota and the Lakers are concerned. Scott and Tim both have the Grizzlies taking the Spurs out.

Everyone has the Pacers and Pistons fighting for the East. While the West, according to my fine panel, has Minnesota meeting either the Lakers or Spurs. The one dessenter being the Bulls Blog who choose the Kings to knock off the T-Wolves.

When it comes to the overall champion, I am the only one to choose an East team, taking the Pacers to win it all. Also I’m the only one that thinks Minnesota will make it that far. 5 of the 8 contestants think the Lakers are going all the way, with 2 picking the Spurs.

I’m not that surprised that no one wants to pick the East to win, but I thought the T-Wolves would get a little more respect. It seems that the majority of people think the winner of the Lakers/Spurs series in round 2 will decide the championship. I think the T-Wolves have a little advantage against the winner, since the team they will face in the second round will have a weak defense (SAC/DAL), and this series is less likely to be physical or go the full 7 games than the LAL/SAS series.

Good Luck Contestants!