Today the Knicks are in Motor City to take on the ever-struggling Detroit Pistons. On paper it should be a routine victory but considering the games against Charlotte and Tornto earlier this week this may not be the case.
The Pistons currently stand at 2-5, having re-signed most of the core of players that got them down to this low point in Stucky, Prince and Jerebko. Their defense will likely not have an answer for Stoudemire or Anthony and as long as we don't continue to shoot ourselves in the feet it should be an offensive field day. Even on defense, the Knicks have little to worry about, with the Pistons top scorer being Ben Gordon with 16 per game.
As a head coach, D'Antoni publicly exhibits an identifiable management style with a specific personal code. D'Antoni tends to manage his men, at least publicly, in an autocratically-paternalistic kinda way; sorta like a parent who makes stubbornly makes with bad reasoning, but with the child's best interest at heart. Coach D'Antoni exhibits a personal code through which he engenders loyalty (and attempts to manage the team psyche) by trying to maintain some consistency in how he treats a certain manufactured class of individuals. For example, with playing time and the opportunity to contribute as the most important carrot on the stick D'Antoni gives veterans preferential treatment and the benefit of the doubt before making an obviously necessary roster decision. Players in the class of "starters with seniority" get even more benefit of the doubt. Players in the doghouse, sleep, eat and rollover in the doghouse.
His management style is not necessarily a negative coming from a coach who was a player and realizes that players need to work through errors and a variety of situations in order to learn, adapt and become better. But this style becomes counterproductive when perpetual, clear and convincing evidence shows that a particular situation is not working and will not ever work.
This style and code are particularly evident in how long it is taking D'Antoni to put rookie Iman Shumpert into the starter lineup to replace vet Toney Douglas or Landry Fields. To most of us, it had been evident since pre-season that Shump was going to crack the opening lineup before the end of the season. It was simply a matter of when and who he would replace. Yesterday, six games into the season and after the cries of "We want Shumpert" from an arena of not-so-in-the-closet manager-fans, D'Antoni was rumored to have put Shumpert in the starting line-up against the Wizards. He did not, although he used Shump to start the second half. After the game in which Shumpert played 37 minutes, had five steals, 7 assists, 3 boards and 10 points on 4 for 11 shooting while leading the team on a comeback from a double digit deficit, D'Antoni remained unwilling to commit to starting Shump for fear of "losing" Douglas. D'Antoni said “I still want to think about it. We don’t want to lose Toney, but we’ll do what we have to do.’
How do you lose Toney if you start Shump? Is the underlying assumption from manager D'Antoni that to strip Douglas of starting status in favor of Shumpert could bruise his ego and "lose" his tenacity and leadership. Would Toney fall into the black hole of the reserve bench next to Renaldo Balkman? Is D'Antoni protecting Douglas' confidence because he believes that it is that fragile, so fragile that Toney can't overcome being replaced after the fans booed him in favor of Shump? Does D'Antoni believe that his child, I mean player, is that thin-skinned that he is unable to overcome the adversity of losing his starting position?
I'm not going to lie to you. Actually, if you saw the Knicks pull out a last seconds win (99-96) against the still winless Wizards of Washington, I can't lie to you. The truth is that this win was brutal, not just plain brutal, presidential primary type brutal.
There were a few positives and I hope to share them with you later, but the Knicks were 16 seconds and a Carmelo Anthony three-pointer away from total embarrasment and panic. For most of the first half, until D'Antoni FINALLY decided to give Iman Shumpert extended minutes, the Knicks looked woeful on both ends of the floor.
Melo scored 37 points. Amare Stoudemire finally had a decent game with 23 points, 12 boards and 2 steals. Shumpert did it all though with 5 steals and 7 assists while contributing 10 points and 3 boards in 37 minutes. Wake up Mike D'Antoni.
The Knicks are struggling, but because of the promise presented by the Carmelo-Stoudemire-Chandler front line, they are doing so before a packed house.
If you want to get to a game and participate in the excitement or just show your displeasure at some of the on-court decision-making,you can do so without breaking the bank you can buy a ticket for a price you can afford -- thanks to the "Pick Your Price" feature from our partners at TiqIQ. Do you want to check out Knicks as they take on Kemba Walker and the Bobcats? With an offer around $70ea on two "2-star" tickets they can be yours for over $20 off the total price. Gotta be in the building for Knicks/76ers on Thursday the 11th? With an offer around $100ea for two "3-star" tickets you can save $15 off the total price. As always with "Pick Your Price" deals you don't pay any Service or Shipping Fees! But act fast, if you want to be near the action, you don't want to miss out on these savings! Get Tix here.
FUNKY FANATICS FRIDAY: YOU DROPPED A BOMB ON ME (ft. The Gap Band)
WORD TO THE MOTHER FROM STEADY, PRINCE & TMAN
'Nuff Said? Probably not. Check out what three of our Fanatics, Post Up Prince, Tman and Steady, have to say about the current situation.
Post Up Prince
At this point in the season, I am disappointed in Tyson Chandler. He does not rebound as well as he should for a 7 ft. center and has no post game. Unless he gets the ball on the move toward the basket or on an ally oop play, he is not a scoring threat. On defense he often leaves his man in an effort to block shots, but is thereafter out of position to either (1) defend the man he left [no one else on the Knicks slides over to cover] or (2) rebound the ball. The result is that the Knicks get out-rebounded in virtually every game. The failure to box-out on defense is inexcusable and the blame rests on the coaching for failure to stress this fundamental element of the game.
Perhaps Chandler would do better with a more talented point guard, but once Baron Davis takes the floor and we see no improvement from Tyson, the Knicks should seriously consider trading Chandler for either Dwight Howard or Kevin Love, both of whom want out of their current locations and should be available by the trade deadline.
To paraphrase a remark a GM made when Chandler was signed, "I don't think he can block 55 shots a game, he's going to need to." It's not that signing Chandler was a mistake, its that it is one of many mistakes.Paid way too much for him.Now we are reduced from cap space to praying an injury prone, older former star can regain some semblance of all pro aura change his game and rescue us from oblivion.What are the chances?I like a good comeback story as well as the next guy.Point is this all went wrong at a certain point.N'D had a running, passing team he liked led by Ray-Ray Felton, a tough little dude with limitations.Then LeBro dissed us, as was his right.
Tonight the (2-2) New York Knicks will look to improve upon their early season record when they host the Toronto Raptors.
The Knicks are coming off a (1-2) West Coast trip which they salvaged a win against the Sacramento Kings. During that win the Knicks had their best passing game of the early season as demonstrated by the 26 assist they amassed against the Kings who only connected on 15 dimes. Against the Kings the Knicks used screens and picks more adeptly to get their guards and wings inside penetration. That penetration resulted in better scoring attempts inside, passing attempts to teammates cutting inside as the defense collapse and kick outs that freed up Knicks shooters on the perimeter.
The notion that the Knicks are better with Josh Harrelson than Amare Stoudemire is utter nonsense. Still, Harrelson's performance and impact on his teammates, especially Toney Douglas and Landry Fields, cannot be ignored. So far through four games, Amare Stoudemire, who seems to have bought into the notion that this is Carmelo's team offensively, is not close to being the all-star bound dynamo he turned himself into when he first arrived to New York. Amare made it clear that he was taking over the team and hauling us to victories on his big shoulders, accurate mid-range jumper and aggressive inside play. Now with Chandler in the middle and Amare mostly playing the 4-spot, the Amare we grew to know and love has disappeared.
The most common excuse stated for his and other's offensive woes is ball movement. The principle reason cited is poor point guard play by combo guards. It is suggested that we need a decisionmaker with the ball who will assure that Stoudemire gets the ball in the most complimentary positions. It has been stated that we need a guard that will hit Stoudemire in stride, take advantage of the universally poor pick and roll defenses in the NBA and dilute the triple and double teams on Stat by hitting jumpers and driving the lanes without mercy. Others suggest that both Stat and Melo mst swing the ball more efficiently and help their teammates get the open shots. Even when Stat was doing very well, he was always susceptible to turning over the ball when he stubbornly would try to create his own shot off the dribble from 8 feet beyond the basket. That effort usually stops all player movement and turns everyone else into spectators until the ball is stripped or bounces off his leg.