Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Asian America’s Team: No D in MSG

It has been over a month since the nation has been swept up in the insanity of Linsanity, but as of late, the Knicks have stopped winning. The disappointment and frustration have led to one significant question -- who is it to blame for the team's current slide? The schedule has clearly gotten more difficult, but a loss to a team like the Milwaukee Bucks is unacceptable. When you have two perennial all-stars like Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, you shouldn’t have an issue with lower-tier teams. It is easy for us to point the finger at Carmelo and his style of basketball, but let’s not forget that basketball is a team sport. Carmelo may commit the sin of holding on to the rock too long in isolation, yet that doesn’t give the rest of the team an excuse for not moving without the ball. Movement puts pressure on the defense, but what we are seeing is Carmelo with the ball and the other four simply standing around idly. As it is in football, you can argue that the receiver who is not thrown to is just as important to the success of the play as the receiver targeted.

In the end, offense is still not the main problem; instead it’s the fact that there is very little defensive ability on this roster. With injuries to Tyson Chandler and Jared Jeffries last week, it was clear that there are only three guys on the 15-man roster that can play defense at a high level. Even with everyone healthy, the Knicks have three starters that are subpar defenders in Jeremy Lin, Carmelo Anthony, and Amare Stoudemire. Chandler cannot make up for that kind of supporting cast around him on defense. Jeremy needs to improve on the defensive end, and Amare and Tyson need to do a better job containing the point guard after Jeremy is picked off. For a team that runs the pick and roll so well, they sure can’t stop it. Over this time period we have seen a bunch of point guards go off for big numbers: Rondo, D. Williams, Rose, Parker, and B. Jennings. In the game last night, we saw Rose drive to the basket at will, using the man defending Stoudemire to pick off Lin and just go to work on Amare. The Knicks' bigs proved unable to stay in front of Rose all night.

The defensive possession does not end when the other team takes a shot, but watching the Knicks last night you would think it did. No, the possession ends when the defense secures the defensive rebound. The Knicks had 29 defensive rebounds while the Bulls had a ridiculous 22 offensive rebounds. In other words, the Bulls got another chance to score on 43% of their misses. This allowed the Bulls to take 13 more shots in a game where both teams basically had the same amount of turnovers. If you are lazy playing defense and then lazy boxing out, please do me a favor and sit on the bench. This is New York, and we are tired of players who won’t put in the effort for a rebound.
Knicks are in need of Jared Jeffries' defense
Will the return of Jared Jeffries help? I sure hope so, but until then, every Knick need to focus on boxing out their man and finding some way to get every defensive rebound available. If you take out that one part of the game the Knicks would have possibly walked away with an upset win. This team is talented, and I've seen a lot of positive things from the offense that should only improve with more time playing together. Although Jeremy Lin’s numbers have dropped closer to 16 points and 8 assists in recent weeks, that is good enough for this team to start winning. Jeremy did have a sick block on the reigning MVP, so I guess I need to give him credit there after all the hating I did earlier in this post.

If the Knicks want to make the playoffs and be competitive in round one, they must play with more effort and energy. The egos should have been left at the door when they came to New York City, but even last night’s TV announcers felt that too many of the Knicks players are here to enjoy being a star when what they need is to be focused on winning -- no matter what that takes. I think the this team will make the playoffs when it is all said and done, but unfortunately, the Knicks' effort (or lack thereof) is the reason it's underachieving. The final burning question is if that will ever change.

Photos and video courtesy of youtube.com, Bill Kostroun /AP & Charles Rex Arbogast /AP Photo


Mike D'Antoni is a terrible coach who was lucky enough to have Jeremy Lin blossom in NYC, but now he still has no idea how to win with this team.

Can't argue with you on that, as much as I think D'Antoni is a decent coach, his inability to get this talented group to buy in to team basketball says a lot about his lack of coaching ability.

Too many scorers and not enough people doing the dirty work like getting rebounds or drawing fouls/taking charges, could be a testament to why the second unit plays better sometimes

Trade Melo. I don't think he sucks or anything but he doesn't fit the system--they need a defensive minded player at that position or someone that can stretch the court without demanding the ball (Granger-esque, Danilo-esque) and Mike D never wanted him in the first place.

If they want to keep Melo, then trade Lin...and we all know that's never going to happen.

Playing devil's advocate but, how would you coach a team like this? You have three starters that can't play a lick of defense (Lin, Melo, and Amare) which means way too much pressure is put on Chandler to protect the rim. You found a legit point guard who excels at the pick and roll game, but a top five wing player who excels at the isolation game. Amare looks disinterested or maybe he's just not that good anymore. The production out of the 2-guard position is inconsistent, sometimes Landry plays well sometimes he doesn't because he has to guard the other team's best player. It's a flawed team so to speak.

Do you let your two perennial all stars play freely and dominate the ball? Or do you have your point guard run the show ala what Mike D did with Steve Nash in Phoenix?

Last year it was all about Melo and Amare getting theirs with Chauncey spotting up. IMO, that team was better built than this year's team in a lot of ways. They ran into a couple unfortunate breaks with Billups going down in the playoffs.

As far as this year is concerned, there's no way the Knicks aren't going to make the playoffs. There's just too much talent on the roster, arguably top 3 talent in the league? And I think we touched on this in GCAST 5, but Mok and I believe that they will have a shot against the either Chicago or Miami because of the matchup problems they present. I'm calling it now, #1 seed Chicago will get upset by #8 seed New York in the first round. Book it.

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