Time For the Knicks to Kick it into Next Gear

Tommy Dee

As the snow crushes the northeast, and as we all surround ourselves with what matters most to us in life, the Knicks are preparing to play a basketball game in Minnesota.

All in all the Knicks are pretty boring, in a good way because they are winning. What’s more is they need to make a statement and show the league they have an extra gear in my opinion.

We can be concerned about their perimeter defense but that’s nothing new. I didn’t assume or expect Iman Shumpert to come back and stop the entire league’s legion of dribble penetrators. That’s way too high of an expectation. They allowed for Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster the breathing room to make shots, which they did. J.R. Smith wandering defensively needs to be addressed, but I’m not sure anyone expected him to be this good.

We can be concerned about Jason Kidd, but I’m one of the mindset that the player (especially a first ballot hall of famer) knows his own body and knows how much gas there is left in the tank to date. If Kidd needs rest then they need other players to step up and fill his role. Let’s face it, I’ll take Jason Kidd on my team in a playoff series any day of the week and twice on Sunday. The guy hasn’t missed the playoffs since 1997 or, to put it another way, he HIMSELF has played in the playoffs 16 times since 97, the Knicks as a franchise have played 8. We’ve been saying since day 1 how important his intangibles are, so now it’s about time that either Shumpert, J.R. or Prigioni started to share some of that load. Kidd has been so vital to why they are here and they need him come playoffs. They need to plan accordingly and they need players to understand what #5 does that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet. The extra passes, the tips, the deflections and the controlling of tempo.

We can be concerned about how they’ve faired against the tough, grind-it-out, teams in the mid west like the Pacers and Bulls, and why those are tough match ups aside from their ability to stifle the Felton/Chandler pick and roll.We can be concerned about the team’s lack of assists as they are only getting 20.1 per game, but when you think about it that’s only 3 less per game than the 4th team overall in Boston. Kidd’s lack of production is hurting them now, but they need others to step up and produce in that category, specifically from the back court and specifically off the ball.

Every team has concerns and my thing is that right now, in addition to closing out the 10 game stretch with 2 victories, they need to make a statement. On the road in Washington and Minnesota are winnable games and they should be treated as such. But they are what they are and that’s road trip games in the dead-middle of winter. They need to play a solid, all-around, playoff-type, energy filled, physical game Sunday against the Clippers weather permitting and come out with a win.

To me, when teams trudge through the muck of the middle of the season it’s easy to lose focus and what I like most about this team is that they’ve been centrally focused on the common goal (winning the division) since day 1 of pre-season. That focus, along with a lot of wins, have made them pretty boring. It’s a good boring.

As a group they have to be ready to come out Sunday and show the league, and their fans, they can show off their playoff legs and get a real good home win against a real good team. This is a highly-touted match up aside from it being NY-LA(ish). I’d like to see the Knicks show another gear and silence the questions surrounding “old, tired legs”…

…at least for the time being.