Brian DiMennaThe Knicks’ decision to wear black suits to last night’s game was silly and dumb, mostly because they lost, but still. We all felt a little silly and dumb when it was all over and that’s regrettable. It also had almost no impact on the game. I’m almost certain of this. When we someday recall this game, I feel confident that we won’t lament with agony that time the Knicks wore black suits AND EVERYTHING WAS RUINED!!! If the Knicks somehow manage to lose this series, it will not be the result of a fashion choice gone horribly wrong, unless Walt Frazier breaks out his suit made entirely of month-old meat products.
Which doesn’t mean there wasn’t an element of overconfidence at work here, I suppose that’s possible. It’s conceivable our beloved ‘Bockers were overly certain they would prevail in Game 5, as was I. I have to admit, I suffered from a little pre-game cockiness myself, deciding to forego my usual routine of watching big games in the comfort of my own home, venturing out to a crowded bar despite that being something I generally try to avoid. Unless it’s in the venue where the actual game is played, my preference is to avoid large crowds for important sporting events so that I can more freely sweat, fidget and nervously pass gas without the gaze of a judgemental public, all the while avoiding the unsolicited commentary of Joe Q. Fan and his constant screaming to “PUT IN LORENZEN!”
Compounding the error, I even allowed the waitress to talk me into switching to a better table despite the Knicks being out to an early lead, somehow deluding myself into thinking that where I sat would have no impact on the game. As foolish a thought as there’s ever been. Not only did the table switch clearly cause the Knicks to lose a game they otherwise would have won, but it also put me sitting eyeball to eyeball to what appeared to be a Brooks Brothers Convention rooting boisterously for the Celtics. Just poor form all around.
That being said, more important than the black suits, or even my seat selection, is the matter of the Knicks’ offense. The Knicks emerged as a potential contender this season thanks to one of the league’s most efficient offenses. Hovering mostly around league average on defense for most of the year, it has been the Knicks’ offense that has carried the day.
There were some stats buzzing around this morning that the Knicks have used 26.6 isolations per game in the playoffs as opposed to just 15.9 in the regular season, and to make matters worse, scoring on them at just .707 points per possession, the lowest such total of any remaining team. Now, the explanation for this is not simply, “SEE, CARMELO IS SELFISH!! I TOLD YA!!!!” though go ahead if that’s more satisfying, but has a lot to do with how Boston is defending. I thought Seth Rosenthal gets things pretty much exactly right
And make no mistake: The amount of iso the Knicks are running isn’t normal or healthy. And again: It’s not that New York is just handing off to Melo orJ.R. Smith and falling asleep every time down. They’re doing that too often, but the other problem is attempting initial action– a basic high pick-and-roll, the double hand-off, or more unusual pick-and-rolls with Melo as the screener or screenee– failing, then having no other option but to go iso. Play calls get busted for all kinds of reasons– bad screens, bad spacing, just great defense– and the Knicks need to be ready to do some other s%*t when that happens. It’s going to happen. It helps to have time on the shot clock, which is why getting the ball up and getting to work early are important.
Mike Woodson made similar comments this afternoon, noting that some of the problem has been pace. The Knicks have been a little too slow to initiate their offense, and when the initial set breaks down, they’re relying heavily on Carmelo to try and bail them out, something that might be more effective were it not for an ill-timed shooting slump to boot. And, yeah, they should be willing to stick with Felton initiating the pick-and-roll game down the stretch since it’s been the most consistent weapon in the series, and it’s something Melo’s been effective facilitating, as well, albeit in smaller doses.
I still feel comfortable — I think I do anyway, as long as I don’t think about it for too long and choke on my own innate sense of impending doom –that the Knicks will win this series, but they’ve also gotten a good glimpse of how pretty much everyone is going to defend them as this postseason goes forward and they have to figure out a way to play at a high level on the offensive end, because as nicely as they’ve defended against a fairly abysmal offensive team in the Celtics, it’s going to be their offense that will be asked to carry the day.