Monday, November 26, 2012


Here's how the Eastern Conference is going to shake out this year.  There are nine or ten teams that will be competing for the eight spots that get to the playoffs.  I think Miami, NY, Brooklyn, Boston, Philly, Indiana, and Chicago are all locks for the playoffs this season.  I think Atlanta, Charlotte, and Milwaukee will be fighting for the eighth seed.  Some of the aforementioned "locks" can miss the playoffs if they have significant injuries and lose key pieces, but I am confident that if these teams stays relatively healthy, they are significantly better that the three challengers.

ATLANTIC: This is my take on the Nets: they are an extremely legit contender in the East; they moved into Brooklyn this year and have a great combination of superstars and role players. Brooklyn is a great destination for future free agent stars because this team is very good already. Being in NYC on a contending team team will help them sign older vets (see Jason Kidd and Rasheed Wallace to the Knicks).  It's the role players that win big playoff series just as much as the superstars. Tonight's huge match up in Brooklyn will be a good test for both teams, but I anticipate both teams will improve as the season goes on and the winner of this game is not necessarily going to be the better team in April.

Given Boston's struggles and Philly's injuries/uncertain future with Andrew Bynum, these teams will have trouble keeping pace with the Knicks and Nets in the standings.  The Celtics remain dangerous, but they don't have a deep bench and Paul Pierce and KG are at the end of their careers. Their top 7 is great, but the Knicks and Heat can go 10 deep.  Philly has a chance to be a very tough team so long as Andrew Bynum can play, but even when he's healthy they will not have a prolific offense. The Atlantic is easily the most difficult division in the East and all 4 teams are forces to be reckoned with. That being said, the Knicks and Nets have the depth and the in-their-prime superstars that puts them a notch above Boston and Philly.

SOUTHEAST: Miami will win the division and is the favorite to win the 1 seed.  However, nobody else in the Southeast division is a championship contender.  The Hawks and Bobcats will be fighting for the 8 seed but even if they make the playoffs the upper-echelon teams would crush them in the first round.

CENTRAL: Milwaukee, Chicago, and Indiana have been ravaged by injuries and aren't serious contenders at this point in time.  I really like Indiana if Danny Granger is healthy, but he's out indefinitely with a serious knee injury.  Chicago is a huge question mark because they were great when Derrick Rose was healthy.  If he comes back to elite status by February, this team will be extremely dangerous. If he is not 100% and logging 32-36 minutes a game until April, I think Indiana would win the division if Granger comes back. Either team will likely be the 3 or 4 seed. The Bucks are in the same boat as Charlotte and Atlanta, although their schedule is favorable as both Chicago and Indiana have been devastated by injuries. If they can keep playing solid ball they could put pressure on the Bulls and Pacers for the Central division crown.

Here are my power rankings of the Eastern Conference, based off the play so far this season and the pedigree of these teams:

1) Miami Heat: (10-3) Defending champs, best record in the conference, enough said.

2) NY Knicks: (8-3) Melo may be the best offensive player in the NBA right now.  Two of their losses were the second game of back-to-back road trips in extremely hostile environments.  The loss to Houston was pathetic but they rebounded nicely against Detroit.

3) Brooklyn Nets: (8-4) They're off to a solid start and are only going to get better once the stars can develop chemistry.  Deron Williams is one of best players in the league and doesn't get the credit he deserves.  Tonight's match-up against the Knicks is a good test for both teams.

4) Philadelphia 76ers: (8-6) They are deep, tough, and talented.  3 of their losses are against elite teams in this league.  If Bynum comes back, they will be loaded,  Their biggest problem is that they don't have a scorer; it takes a toll to grind night-in and night-out, and the best teams in the league have players that can single-handedly take over games offensively (Melo, Kobe, Durant, Wade, Paul, Williams, etc)

5) Boston Celtics: (8-6) After a shaky start, some tough losses, and a tough schedule, Boston is fine with an 8-6 record.  Big win against the Thunder this past weekend.  I wouldn't want to play this team in the playoffs because of their veteran presence and talent at the top of their rotation, but they have shaky depth and may not be close to 100% come April

6) Atlanta Hawks: (8-4) These boys in Atlanta have won five in a row, but the only quality win in that stretch was against the Clippers.  Their a solid bunch, but won't be able to compete with any of the teams above in the playoffs with Al Horford as their leading scorer.

7) Chicago Bulls: (6-6) If they can stay afloat until D Rose is healthy, they will be a legitimate threat to challenge the Heat, Knicks, and Brooklyn.  They have the depth and leadership to persevere until Rose is healthy.

8) Indiana Pacers: (6-8) They are struggling now, but they are well-coached, deep, and big.  They're in the same boat as the Bulls; if they can stay relevant until Granger comes back in February, they will make the playoffs.

9) Milwaukee Bucks: (6-5) This team's lost 3 in a row but if they can create space between themselves and Indiana and Chicago before Granger and Rose are healthy, they will be in the playoff picture until the end of the season.

10) Charlotte Bobcats: (7-5): Great start to the season but I don't think they have a shot in the big picture this season.  Making the playoffs would be a huge success for this young team.

As you can tell from my opinions above, I have a great deal of respect for the Nets as a basketball team.  They are solid and have high-caliber stars on their roster.  This game has a great underlying story-line (battle of NY) and should be full of emotions.  That being said I don't think the outcome of this game is going to be an indication of who has the better team down the stretch.  

The Nets need time to gel as they have new pieces and it takes time to develop chemistry.  They've opened the season pretty hot, but they will reach another level of consistency after getting another 40 games together.  The Knicks, on the other hand, will be getting gradually better as the season progresses.

With Shumpert coming back in January, Camby getting into playing shape after his injured calf heals, and Rasheed getting in better shape every day, the Knicks defense is going to be stellar by mid-season.  Rasheed and Camby give the Knicks a lot of size and depth at the 4 and 5, which bodes well for them from a fouling perspective and one of their biggest deficiencies this season: rebounding. Shump is a game-changer on defense; against Houston he could have guarded James Harden and limited some of the damage.  His return is more important to this team than Stoudemire's return, which says a lot. STAT's return will provide a spark on offense that the Knicks need right now.  As long as he comes off the bench to start and doesn't disrupt the flow of the Knicks' offense as he's eased back in, he could be an extremely valuable part of this team.  The Knicks have trouble generating offense when Melo is out of the game other than JR Smith's street ball.  If STAT can play 25 minutes a game, mainly when Melo is out, he can draw double-teams and finish on the pick-and-roll.  This would open up shooters like Novak, Brewer, Felton and Kidd and make the Knicks that much more dangerous.

Should be a great match-up tonight and I expect an emotional battle the entire way through.  Melo going back to Brooklyn (his hometown) for the first time, could be another huge game for Anthony.

Friday, November 23, 2012


The Knicks lost a heart-breaker in Dallas for two reasons.  One was the awful officiating that charged Melo with two offensive fouls on extremely questionable calls.  Additional no-calls when Melo was trying to drive to the rim and granting Chris Kaman a timeout on what was clearly a travel are only a few of many examples of inconsistent refereeing during Wednesday night's match-up.  The second reason was their inability to put the Mavs away.  They twice had leads of 10 points, but allowed the Mavs to come back with shoddy defense and inept offense at times.  The Mavs were given open 3s all night and the Knicks had no ball-movement and continuity on offense.  Basketball is a game of runs, and anything can happen on any given night, but the Knicks need to maintain focus when they are winning but the game is not over.

I gave my take on the decision to let Lin go this off-season.

Lin hasn't been very good this season to say the least.  Averaging 10 points and 6 assists per night, and continuing his struggles with turnovers and defense, he has been average at best.  It seems that GM Glen Grunwald made the right call to let Lin leave and bring in the veteran tandem of Ray Felton and Jason Kidd.  Felton has been great shooting the ball this year, has been solid on defense, and has the trust and respect of Melo to keep the offense flowing.  Kidd has been nothing short of spectacular in limited minutes; the impact that his intangibles and experience have given the Knicks cannot be understated.

I see tonight's game as a huge opportunity for Carmelo Anthony.  He came out sluggish on Wednesday, but picked it up after halftime.  He was the victim of awful officiating, but almost got the Knicks the win with a solid second half, despite having a poor shooting night overall.  Melo has a tough match-up going up against James Harden, but I expect Melo to have plenty of motivation to play great  tonight.

Although there has been no public animosity, I get the feeling that Anthony and the other Knicks resent Jeremy Lin.  There was a period last year when the public and media felt that Lin was more important than Anthony, an absurd notion given Melo's track record and Lin's blatant deficiencies in his all-around game.  He was given all the credit for their success last year and didn't play when it mattered most.  Players like JR Smith have come out and said the Ray Felton is a much more dynamic player than Lin.  This is all speculation, but if Melo and co. really respected Lin's game, they would have put the pressure on management to re-sign last year's phenom.  Carmelo has something to prove after last game's loss and the Jeremy Lin saga.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Tyson Chandler and Jason Kidd return to Big D, where they led the Mavericks to victory in the 2011 NBA Finals against the Miami Heat.  Although Dirk was the Finals MVP, Tyson made up for Nowitzki's lacking defensive presence and allowed him to focus on scoring the rock.  Kidd guided the Mavs in the same way he does the Knicks, playing the role of the floor-general and bringing the intangibles that allows the team to keep its focus in pressure-packed situations. The fact that Mavericks' owner Marc Cuban has proclaimed that he will not retire Kidd's jersey, despite the fact that Kidd personified leadership during his entire stint in Dallas, is a travesty. I expect the Knicks to come out with a vengeance early in this game and blow the Mavericks out of the water.

Melo may not have the all-around game of a LeBron, but his importance to this Knicks squad cannot be understated.  Look no further than last night's game; the Knicks dominated the first quarter because Melo couldn't miss. He will go through stretches where is truly unstoppable, and can flick the switch on quicker than anyone in the league. When Coach Woodson gave Melo his normal rest to start the 2nd quarter, the Knicks offense came out flat and they lost all momentum.  This lack of effort and continuity carried over to their defensive effort and they let up 31 points to the lowly Hornets. 

Melo has been hustling on defense and hasn't been putting huge numbers just because he's a volume shooter; he's playing smart basketball, taking good shots, and showcasing his all-around talent with phenomenal passing and solid defense.  He's playing the best ball of his career and should he keep this pace all year, the Knicks will be right at the top of the Eastern Conference come April.

I fully expect the Knicks to wipe the floor with the Mavericks all night long.  Without Dirk, Dallas is not have a consistent offense.  They have lost 5 of 7 games and lack the talent to beat a team as hot as NY.  Meanwhile, the Knicks have won 8 of 9 games this year and shouldn't be too tired after last night's victory; nobody played more than 31 minutes and the game was over by the 3rd quarter.  Jason Kidd will be lights out tonight, although it may not show up on the stat sheet. The hockey-assists and deflections he consistently has night-in and night-out are not counted, but they do not go unnoticed.  Look for Woodson to give him big minutes and let him guide this team to victory.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012



Carmelo was on fire from the get-go like he was playing against Nigeria in the Olympics.  He put up 19 points on 8/9 shooting and outscored New Orleans 19-17 by himself in the first quarter.  The Knicks started the game with no ball movement and were lucky that Melo was able to light it up from all over the floor.  Give Hornets' coach Monty Williams credit because he had a great game-plan to stop the Knicks in the first half; they took away the pick-and-roll and forced the Knicks to make plays out of isolation.  New Orleans suffered the fate that any NBA team without a top 10 player does when Melo gets hot; they could not keep up with his torrid pace with the likes of Ryan Anderson and Austin Rivers as their best offensive options.

Ray Felton had another oustanding game; he was +30 in 30 minutes, shot 5/6 from deep, and distributed the ball at the right times.  The eye test tells me that Felton knows when to shoot and when to give the ball up; the entire offense obviously flows through Anthony, but Felton has been successful getting to the rim off the dribble and knocking down jumpers when he's wide open.

Woodson gave Melo a breather to start the 2nd quarter and it kept the Hornets in the game.  When Anthony is on the floor the Knicks can run the fast-break or slow it down and let Melo carry the load.  The problem is that when he is on the bench the Knicks have zero continuity and cannot generate any offense when JR Smith isn't on his A game.  The Knicks need to find another option on offense because it's imperative that they manage Melo's minutes early in the season.

Even more frustrating than their lackluster offense is that the Knicks allowed 31 points (39% of NO's total points) in the 2nd quarter, largely due to the fact that the Hornets were 7 for 13 on mostly uncontested 3 pointers.  Who is Brian Roberts?  Since when is Ryan Anderson  the focal point of an effective offense?  The Knicks turned up the intensity after halftime but they cannot overlook the fact that they got torched for a significant stretch of this game by a bunch of scrubs.  To keep things in perspective, the Knicks won by 22 and it bodes well for them that they can play so awfully for an entire eight or nine minute stretch and still dominate a game.

The biggest positive coming out of tonight's win is that the Knicks allowed 32 points in the second half.  Granted, the Hornets were without Anthony Davis and Eric Gordon, but New York was absolutely superb defending the shooters that could not miss earlier in the game.  If the Knicks want to make a deep run in the playoffs, they will have to play this type of defense consistently because they will be jockeying for playoff position against a deep Eastern Conference all season long and they will need every win they can get.

The Knicks continue their Western Conference trip tomorrow night in Dallas.  Jason Kidd and Tyson Chandler face off against their former team with extra motivation after Mav's owner Mark Cuban proclaimed he would not retire Kidd's jersey, despite Kidd quarterbacking Dallas to the 2010-11 championship.  After Kidd signed with NY, Cuban went on a rant that the Knicks will surely use as bulletin board motivation.  Look for the Knicks to get to 9-1 against a Mavs team without Dirk Nowitzki.  



After a one game return to NY, the Knicks are back on the road for the fifth time this season.  This is the first of a three game road trip where New York should be favored in each game.  The Knicks are 3-1 on the road so far this year, with gritty wins in Philly, San Antonio, and Orlando.  Their only loss was to arguably the best team in the league so far this year: Memphis.  New York should improve to 4-1 against an inexperienced but improving Hornets team.  New Orleans was awful last year, finishing with the third worst record in the league and the worst in the Western Conference.  That being said, they added #1 overall pick Anthony Davis, who brings a defensive presence and a near double-double average to the table.  Good news for the Knicks is that the Hornets are missing Eric Gordon, the key piece they received in return for Chris Paul, and by far their best offensive threat.

Anthony Davis' unibrow is something special.  However, his talent and consistency at Kentucky and so far this year are truly remarkable.  Davis was a member of the USA's gold-medal winning Olympic team this summer and is well acquainted with Knicks' stars Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler.  I expect the Knicks to focus their defense on shutting down Davis.  His talent, specifically offensive rebounding (he averages more than 3 per game), is something that Chandler should be well aware of after a summer of practicing with the rookie phenom.  Davis will come out with enthusiasm on this big stage, but I anticipate the Knicks will keep him in check.

The biggest change between this year and last is the mental toughness of this team.  Last year, with a number of young players, a run-and-gun offense, and a lack of accountability, the Knicks lost their composure far too often. This year, starting in training camp, Mike Woodson has established a defensive identity with this team that will carry them all season.  A lot of it can be attributed to the personnel adjustments made by GM Glen Grunwald, but I believe the biggest change has been Carmelo Anthony's accountability and attitude in general.  When NY signed Tyson Chandler, everybody that follows the league knew that he would bring consistency on defense every single time he's on the floor.  However, the fact that the team's superstar -Carmelo - is playing with the same consistency as Tyson every night forces everyone on the team to follow suit.  Kudos to Mike Woodson for managing Carmelo's ego and bringing an infectious attitude to the locker-room.

Monday, November 19, 2012


LINSANITY? No thanks.

With the Knicks travelling to Houston this week, an intriguing story line will be the Knicks decision to let Jeremy Lin go.  When the Knicks did not match Houston's qualifying offer this past summer, fans everywhere started to panic.  Jeremy Lin took Manhattan by storm last year and kept the Knicks alive when the entire roster was crushed with injuries.  That being siad, he never gelled with Melo on the court; the Knicks could not afford to let him run the offense, and the fact that the Rockets were willing to pay him big dollars to leave NY was probably a great thing for the Knicks.  By letting Lin go and bringing in Ray Felton and Jason Kidd, GM Glen Grunwald and Coach Mike Woodson made a statement that has resonated in the Knicks’ locker room: "OUR TIME IS NOW".

Going for a Ring
Jeremy Lin didn't play in last year's playoffs because he was going for a contract and knew that he could only hurt his stock by playing and under-performing.  He claimed he wasn't ready to play, but reports surfaced that his knee was at 80% and he could have managed the pain.  It's understandable that he sat out the rest of the year; his stock was at an all-time high and he did receive a huge contract offer from Houston this off-season.  That being said, his decision to not play was a devastating blow for the Knicks that left them depleted at point guard down the stretch last season.  Felton and Kidd are playing for a championship now and they fit the personality of this team better that Lin ever could.  Lin's a young player that will experience growing pains; Kidd and Felton bring a veteran presence that know how to handle high-pressure situations (see last Wednesday in San Antonio).  

PG Efficiency
Lin does not fit the blueprint of what this team is trying to do.  The Knicks need someone that knows when to feed Melo, when to get the fast break going, and what to do in a half-court set.  Lin was able to create opportunities for himself and was great at running the pick-and-roll, but he was not the efficient quarterback that this team needs.  Felton and Kidd are true PGs that look to distribute the rock.  They make Melo the focal point of the offense, which is exactly what he should be.

Lin was a liability on defense all of last year.  He was consistently out-muscled by bigger point guards and does not fit Mike Woodson’s scheme.  Ray Felton is fast and strong enough to get over screens and play consistently on the defensive side of the ball.  The fact that he is playing with a chip on his shoulder makes him that much more tenacious.  Kidd, although he lacks the lateral quickness of a 20-something, is a defensive genius. His extraordinary awareness and vision allow him to get into passing lanes and disrupt the opposition’s flow, particularly on the fast break.

The decision to not re-sign Lin and go for the veteran tandem of Kidd and Felton may be the best personnel move of this past off-season.  The Knicks offense has been more consistent this season than it was last year, particularly in big spots.  Felton and Kidd are leaders that have the respect of veterans like Melo and Tyson Chandler, which will steer the Knicks in the right direction all year long.

Sunday, November 18, 2012



The Knicks were able to put Thursday night's beating behind them and came out composed and intense.  Over the last decade the Knicks were immature and unable to maintain focus after tough losses.  This year's camaraderie off the court has been great.  More importantly, they are buying into Woodson's philosophy and trust in each other on and off the court.  The defense - which is all effort, awareness, and teamwork - was incredible; the Pacers scored 20 or less points in 3 quarters.

The x-factors in today's game were turnovers and rebounding.  The Pacers are at the top of the league in boards per game, and the Knicks have been out-rebounded in every game prior to today despite their 6-1 record over that stretch.  New York out-rebounded the Pacers 48-47 with contributions from Carmelo, Tyson, JR, and Rasheed.  Additionally, the Knicks were +11 in the turnover margin, a key indicator of the result of the game.  Felton was especially efficient, dishing out 8 assists without turning the ball over.

Carmelo was great today; 26 points on 22 shots isn't great but he got to the line a lot and had a few second chance opportunities that he cashed in on.  He had 4 offensive rebounds and either scored or drew a foul each time.  His 40%  completion percentage is a skewed stat because he missed a few layups and got the offensive rebound before putting it back in.  Melo was 7/8 from the line and was efficient throughout the game, regardless of the stat line.

Frankly, Melo has been much more consistent all season long.  He's still getting his points, but he's also getting offensive rebounds and hockey-assists (which don't show up on the stat sheet), and is playing tough defense.  If the Knicks want to be a legit contender this spring, this is the type of ball and attitude that Melo needs to play with all year long.

The Knicks were dominant in the Garden again today.  It's been a very small sample size, but they've won by double-digits all four games at MSG this season.  The pulse of the city is awesome; the Melo trade re-energized Knicks fans and the fact that the Knicks look like they are for real is going to make Madison Square Garden a tough place for opponents to play all year long.

The Knicks get a much-needed day-off tomorrow before heading on another tough 3-game road trip.  They play in New Orleans, Dallas, and Houston between Tuesday and Friday. Knicks fans should be riding high after this 7-1 start.

*I will be coming out with my take on how Woodson should deploy STAT when he is healthy and a comparison/what-if of the Kidd/Felton vs. Lin situation this week.


The Pacers were a contender until Danny Granger went down.  They seem to have used the Spurs' template for building their roster; rather than signing big-time free agents, they have drafted well and picked up the right kind of complementary role players.  Roy Hibbert is a monster, David West has been consistently good for years, and they have a lot of depth across the board.  The Knicks can beat this team, but they shouldn't take this game for granted.  This is a quintessential trap game - coming off two road wars and an early Sunday game.

The Knicks are the better team and Indiana is without its best player [Danny Granger], but after two exhausting efforts I am curious to see how New York plays today.  Things I am looking for include Woodson's personnel packages and how in-shape the Knicks are.  That being said, its important to remember that its early in the season and you don't want the core guys to play too many minutes too early on in the year.

Indiana has a very deep roster stacked with grinders and are much tougher than their 4-6 record indicates.  The Pacers rank second in the league in rebounding and the Knicks are getting killed on the boards just about every game.  Melo can grab rebounds and is a tough, gritty player, but he's not a prototypical 4 and  its harder for him to box out bigger players.  With the way the Knicks are using Tyson Chandler on defense - blitzing and at the top of the paint - they could use another a real big to close out possessions by grabbing defensive rebounds.  Memphis hung around with the Knicks through the first-half before going on that run in 3rd quarter.  Indiana has similar personnel; David West and Tyler Hansborough have the ability to get some offensive rebounds and second-chance points, which is why Woodson should play Rasheed Wallace more today.  I like Woodson's starting 5 for now, but Woodson should play Rasheed 25-30 minutes off the bench.  His versatility (he's able to play the 3, 4, and 5 on offense) will be extremely valuable all season for two reasons:
  • He can sub in for Tyson and the Knicks don't lose too much size on defense
  • He can play the 3 when he, Tyson, and Melo are all on the floor.  This allows Melo to play the 3 or 4 on offense depending on the personnel match-ups.  
The more games I watch, the more I am starting to appreciate the veterans that Grunwald/Woodson recruited and the amount of versatility this roster has.  In games like today's, the Knicks can go big with Melo, Wallace, and Tyson.  If Camby can play, they sub him in for Wallace and Chandler at times so the Knicks can play a big line-up for 75% of the game, which is critical against a big team like Indiana.  Additionally, The deep perimeter rotation - Felton, Kidd, Brewer, Melo, Pablo, Smith, and Novak - are a very complementary group on offense and defense; Woodson can throw out a lot of different lineups depending on the personnel of their opponents and who needs rest.

This is a trap game for the Knicks.  Here are the facts:
  • In recent years, New York has tended to lose their focus after losses and things have spiraled out of control.  Last year, they weren't able to make any type of playoff run because they had two 6 game losing streaks in a shortened season and it screwed them into a bad seed in the playoffs.
  • AGE: The Knicks have to be exhausted at this point, coming off back-to-back gritty games against great Western Conference opponents on the road.  One day off with an early game today isn't exactly what this team needs right now.  
    • Rasheed and Camby haven't really had training camps to get into shape; although I expect these guys to be key role players for the Knicks this season, they are both in their mid-to-late 30s.  Its (a) going to take a while before they can contribute for 20-30 minutes each every game and (b) they will not be able to recover from back-to-back games with just a single day off.  I expect Rasheed to play big minutes today because the Knicks have another day off tomorrow, but I doubt Camby can be effective for more than 10 minutes at this point.  
    • Melo has been playing lots of minutes and getting hammered on every play by the likes of DeJuan Blair and Zach Randolph.  He could use a little rest.  Felton has been playing a lot too and has been taking a beating when he goes to the rim (which has been extremely effective).  Woodson needs to manage minutes effectively because it is only the beginning of a long season.
  • OFFENSE: The Knicks rely on two of the streakiest scorers in the league for too much of their offense.  I think Melo is playing great and needs to keep shooting the rock to get in a groove.  JR is an improved talent and has been great up until two night's ago; the guy can make tough shots but he has to learn that when he's not hot, the Knicks can't afford to let him shoot himself out of a slump.  If they don't incorporate the pick-and-roll with Felton and Tyson, the offense becomes stagnant  and these guys don't have any room to operate and are taking heavily contested shots.  I think Woodson knows this and will gameplan around getting Carmelo good match-ups and running the pick-and-roll with either Kidd or Felton and Tyson Chandler.  Chandler obviously needs to continue his role as the defensive focal point, but he needs to be more involved in the offense so the Knicks remain balanced.

    As a result of these facts, GM Glen Grunwald and Coach Mike Woodson have stacked the roster with veteran depth.  They brought in glue guys like Kidd, Wallace, Camby and Thomas to give emotional players like Melo and Smith perspective.  A loss in Memphis - who has won 15 straight home games - isn't exactly an indication that NY is a "pretender". Here's an opportunity for the Knicks to prove they are elite.  Indiana was a better team than the Knicks last season and have size, which is something that the Knicks lack with Melo playing the 4.  Let's see what kind of effect that these old guys can have on the team from a mental point of view; I expect the Knicks to win today, as they should. 

    Friday, November 16, 2012


    This game has been a war thus far and I expect it to get even chippier as the game progresses.  Forget the techs on Smith, Bayless, and Gay.  The battle between the 4s and 5s  in the paint has been nasty all game.  Zach Randolph, who already has a double-double is crushing the Knicks with his second chance points.  The Knicks are shooting extremely well because they have a nice flow going on offense.  This game is going to the wire and I expect the level of intensity to increase as the game progresses.

    Late in the 3rd and early in the 4th, I expect the Knicks second unit to hold their own against Memphis' bench.  This will be a critical juncture in the game.  No Knicks have logged too many minutes and only Rasheed and Kidd have 3 fouls, so the Knicks can use their deep rotation to gain some ground on Memphis or take the lead, depending how the beginning of the 3rd goes.

    If the Knicks can tie up the game by the time they bring in the closers [Kidd, Felton, Smith, Melo, and Chandler] with about 8 minutes left, I expect Kidd to manage the flow of the offense and find Melo and Smith in good shots.  So long as they can contain Randolph on the offensive glass, the Knicks have a great chance at pulling this one out.  



    Memphis is for real.  The combination of Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol, and ex-Knick Zach Randolph is a formidable trio.  They have depth up and down their bench.  The Knicks dominated the last 8 minutes of last night's game against a very good Spurs team and proved that (a) they have a chip on their shoulder & (b) they aren't afraid of adversity.  This will be another 48-minute battle where the Knicks can really make a statement.

    The Knicks biggest challenge will be rebounding and defending the pain tonight.  Knick fans should know that Z-Bo is an extremely crafty scorer and an excellent offensive rebounder.  Marc Gasol has more girth than his older brother and can rebound and score in the paint.  We all know Tyson Chandler isn't going to back down, but the lack of depth behind him is in question right now.  This game is going to come down to Rasheed, Camby, and Kurt Thomas's ability (along with Chandler) to keep control of the paint.  They are going to get pounded inside and I am curious to see how they hold up after an exhausting effort like last night's.

    I see Melo having a huge game tonight scoring the ball.  Despite being held under 10 points, I think he was extremely effective with "hockey-assists" and acting as a decoy last night.  Tony Allen may be the best defender in the NBA outside of LeBron and Dwight Howard, but Melo's ability to get on a roll on offense is uncanny.  I'm going out on a limb and saying Melo is going to have one of those nights where nobody on this planet can stop him.

    Melo's ability to score inside and out is going to pose a huge problem for the Grizz.  If they double and triple-team Melo like San Antonio did, the Knicks will start launching 3s and have the personnel to make Memphis pay.  If not, I expect Melo to have a huge game.

    I expect this game to come down to the wire, similar to last night's game and the previous game in Orlando.  The difference between this year and last is that we have Jason Kidd.  The Knicks were successful in the 4th quarter last year at times because Melo has the ability to take over games.

    However, this year is different. With Felton playing off the ball at times, Jason Kidd can maintain the team's composure by slowing it down and spreading the ball around.  With Chandler in the middle, either Novak or Smith looking for a 3,and Melo drawing double teams, the Knicks can really do some damage in the slow half-court pace that is set at the end of these close, playoff-type games.


    11/15/2012 - KNICKS 104, SPURS 100

    The Knicks have won the last 3 games by closing out games with authority.  The Knicks held the Magic to 13 points in the final period on Tuesday.  They were even more impressive tonight; they outscored the Spurs by 8 and finished the game with a 22-11 run with huge 3-pointers by Jason Kidd and JR Smith and a tremendous effort by Ray Felton overall.

    New York used Melo, who was drawing double and triple teams all night, as a decoy. Contributions from Brewer and Wallace in the first half, Kidd in the 4th, and Felton and JR Smith for pockets throughout the game.  The Knicks had 7 players with 9 points and 8 players that went at least 15 minutes.  Felton was brilliant on offense at times.  Jason Kidd hit two huge 3s back-to-back in the fourth quarter to cut the 12 point deficit in half.  JR Smith has proven to be a more consistent threat on offense; although he may take some awful shots (see late 3rd/early 4th), he has a knack for making tough shots and big shots.

    SPURS 2.0
    Glen Grunwald and Mike Woodson used the Spurs' model for building this year's roster.  Veteran depth and tough, smart, crafty scorers and defenders up and down the bench.  Even when Melo scores less than 10 points, the Knicks had an efficient offense.  They put Kidd in at the end of the game to manage the flow and keep everyone composed.  They put in Felton when they need a spark and know he can take Tony Parker off the dribble.  JR Smith gets big minutes because he can turn on the switch and score points in streaks. When Melo is the focal point of the defensive strategy like he was tonight, help defense breaks down and lanes open up for everyone else.  Kudos to Woodson for managing minutes effectively and to GM Grunwald for putting the right role players around Melo and Chandler.

    Showdown in Memphis
    Memphis is a big, tough, talented team that are right behind the Spurs, Lakers, and Thunder in the West.  This will be a tough match-up in a rowdy environment and I am curious to see how physical the Knicks can be after an exhausting effort like tonight's.

    Thursday, November 15, 2012


    The 5-0 Knicks have a tough task at hand tonight, matching up against an angry San Antonio Spurs team coming off a loss to the Lakers.  San Antonio had the best record in the NBA last year and is off to a strong start this year, going 7-1 to open the season.

    After Tuesday's game, Mike Woodson once again praised the Spurs.  Grunwald & Woody respect San Antonio, the evidence being the make-up of the Knick's roster.  San Antonio has always been a deep, veteran-laden team that plays good defense.  That's exactly the vision Knick's management has for this year's squad.

    Tonight and tomorrow's game (@ Memphis) will give us a good indication of how legit this Knicks team is.

    Wednesday, November 14, 2012


    Its an awful experience being a Jets fan:

    That's me on Boomer & Carton.   Carton's a dick.  Most Jets bloggers are homers or pessimists.  Jet's suck.

    Knicks, however.... read below....



    5 games is too small of a sample size to get crazy, but it looks like Glen Grunwald and Mike Woodson knows what they are doing.  Here are 5 reasons the Knicks roster will allow this team to make some noise in the playoffs this season.

    1) INTERIOR DEFENSE. Tyson is the reigning DPOY and second best interior defender in the league (Dwight Howard).  However, if the Knicks plan to keep him healthy and effective all year, he will have to play 25-28 minutes a game.  Once Rasheed and Camby are in shape and can run up and down the floor for extended minutes, the Knicks defense will be tough to grind down in the paint even with Tyson on the bench.  These 3 players are accountable, and with Mike Woodson's direction, will make sure the other interior defenders (Melo/Amare) stay consistent for 48 minutes.  

    2) PERIMETER PLAY.  Brewer, Melo, Felton, Kidd, Smith, and Pablo are very versatile in regard to the different backcourt and wing match-ups the Knicks will need to defend across the league.  Throw Shumpert into the mix and the Knicks can really match up against any offensive juggernaut in this league with their depth and versatility.  Furthermore, this group of 5 or 6 guys (NOVAK) that can knock down 3s, not including Melo, which will stretch defenses and allow Melo to have room to utilize his skill set.

    3) PG ROTATION.  Prigioni is playing better than anyone expected.  He's a savvy vet that plays sneaky defense, doesn't turn the ball over, and may even be able to knock down an open jumper.  Ray Felton is a field general that will give the Knicks every ounce of energy he can muster.  He can run the pick and roll, shoot the ball at times, and keep the offense flowing in a way Jeremy Lin never could.  He defers to Carmelo but is not afraid to take shots at the right time, and has the respect of every member of this veteran locker room. Jason Kidd knows how to win games down the stretch and keep the ball moving.  The best 5 on the floor at the end of game includes both Felton and Kidd. The intangibles that Kidd brings at the end of the game seemed to keep Melo and the rest of the team confident in their offensive system.  His contribution does not show up on the stat sheet, but will prove to be invaluable to the Knicks all season long.  

    -Melo can score more effectively than anyone else in the league in spurts.  He had 5 points on two possessions that essentially allowed the Knicks to control the flow of the game.  The scary thing is he can sustain that type of production for 10-15 minutes at a time (see 2012 Olympics).  The Knicks can have a great flow on offense and defense, which is due to the savvy veteran presence across the board.  This bodes well for them in big games because teams play defense the entire way through and these vets will allow Melo to focus on the prize.  When he got T-ed up, he was arguing a bad call that warranted some questioning.  In previous years, Melo would lose focus or use the anger as motivation.  Leaders like Rasheed Wallace, Jason Kidd, Tyson Chandler, etc. will keep Melo in the zone that the Knicks need to win big.  When Melo is hot, he can score with ANYBODY in the NBA and that's exactly what the Knicks need in tight games down the stretch.

    -JR Smith is extremely streaky on offense.  IF JR was off tonight, the Knicks would have fallen behind in the 2nd and 3rd quarter after the initial surge in the first half.  I love his intensity on D, but he will go 1-12 at some point.  He's a great young player that should be a big part of the Knicks DEEP rotation for the next few years (until he becomes too expensive for the Knicks' cap).  However, the fact remains that if the Knicks want to win when Melo and JR are both off, they will need to find another way to score points.

    -For the majority of the first three quarters of tonight’s game, the Knicks offense was having trouble keeping up with Orlando's hustle.   The Knicks have 9 guys that would start on the Magic, not including STAT and Shumpert.  JR Smith carried the Knicks before passing the baton to Carmelo in the 4th quarter.  If the Knicks want to contend for the 1 or 2 seed and home-court advantage in the playoffs, they need a consistent identity on offense.  This should essentially be running the pick-and-roll with Felton and Chandler.   Bottom line, if the Knicks can run the pick-and-roll with Felton and Chandler (and Amare when he comes back), defenses will have to choose between Melo operating in isolation or leaving the Knicks 3 point shooters open.  Glen Grunwald has done a great job of stacking the Knicks bench with shooters like Novak, Kidd, Rasheed (it will come), and more.

    5) R E S P E C T.
    -The difference between this year and last year is that this team's locker room does not have a polarizing figure like Jeremy Lin at the center.  These savvy veteran components of the Knick's locker room is not focused on next year's contract as much as they are on tonight's game.  Melo trusts the group of veterans that serve as the team's role players, which benefits them in two crucial ways.

    -On the floor, Melo has faith that people will be in the right place and he will get the ball enough; therefore he will be able to isolate his focus on getting into a scoring groove and grinding down defenses with his extremely unique skill-set on offense.  Melo can score in more ways than anyone in the league because he's a fairly consistent shooter, can grind in the post, and uses the combination to draw fouls with a variety of head and body fakes that nobody else in the league has in their repertoire.

    -Off the floor, the other veterans (Tyson Chandler, Jason Kidd, Rasheed Wallace, Raymond Felton, Marcus Camby, etc) can teach the younger players (Iman Shumpert and JR Smith in particular) how to act as professionals and stay consistent in practice all year long.  Carmelo will be a key component of this leadership group, but the fact of the matter is that this team has a number of leaders that will keep everyone in check.

    -Boston, Philly and Brooklyn.  Although they may not be as deep as the Knicks, Boston's first 7 players in their rotation are as good as any in the East.  Despite two convincing victories so far, the 76ers are factors and the Knicks are not miles ahead of them.  The Nets will take a bit of time to reach their potential, but once they put it together they will be a force.  The Atlantic division is stacked.

    -Miami is the clear cut best team in the East and it is not possible to argue anything else until they get knocked off in the playoffs

    -Chicago will be great again if Rose comes back. Big IF

    -Western Conference is incredible.  OKC, LA, and the Spurs are elite; the Knicks are currently not in their class

    -How is Amare going to fit into the equation?  His ego will have to be managed but he can be extremely effective running the pick and roll with Felton and is solid mid-range shooter.  As this situation develops, Mike Woodson will have to devise some sort of plan to keep him happy.  That being said, his happiness should not decrease the efficiency of their offense as a whole.

    Thursday and Friday the Knicks are in San Antonio and Memphis, who are not comparable to Orlando. If the Knicks play like they did for the first 3 quarters of tonight’s game at all, they will get smacked.  To take an even higher-level view, we can't really tell how good the Knicks will be for another 15 or 20 games.  However, this is 6 game run coming up is a litmus test for a 5-0 Knicks team; 5 games on the road and 4 or 5 of the teams have the ability to make noise in the playoffs.


    My name is Kunal Mehta.  I am a die-hard Knick fan since the rivalry with Miami first picked up in the mid 90s.  In this forum I will be giving predictions and keeping expectations in check.  All opinions given are my own.

    This blog will be updated with shorter postings than the initial post below.  This first post is a reference point on my thoughts on the Knicks heading into the season and through five games.