Posted on: January 3, 2010 11:10 pm
A lot has been made about Nate Robinson returning to the Knicks lineup after a full month on the bech, and lighting it up for 41 points in a huge win for the Knicks vs. the Atlanta Hawks. I have seen a few comments such as "Why was Nate not playing? What is wrong with D'Antoni???". Nate today went out and shot 2-11 for 6 points. Was Nate a 1 game wonder? Should he have played last month? What is going on in New York?
Let me answer these questions. First off, nobody can deny that Nate has a lot of growth to do as a basketball player. He's an energetic sparkplug, he can light it up, but he plays lax D and very selfish at times. This combined with his unprofessional manner led the Knicks to bench him early in a Dec. 1st game with Phoenix and not play him the rest of the month.
How did the Knicks do in December? 9-6, with wins vs. Phoenix, Atlanta, Portland, New Orleans, and Charlotte.
Nate came back and played great vs. Atlanta, and now had a bad game in a huge blowout win vs. Indiana.
But Nate is a different player now.
Even when scoring 41 points, Nate seemed to want to get his teammates involved, and was much more active on the defensive end. And today, his shot didn't fall, but he had some pretty passes, and did great work on the glass during his minutes.
D'Antoni had a lesson for Nate that he had to teach him, and the only way to get the lesson through was to stop giving Nate a run during the games. The lesson was: stop playing the way you want to play, and play the way I want you to play, because there is a place for you on this team, but it's only if you play a team-first style. Nate was a great teammate while he lost his minutes. He was energetic on the bench, him and Curry sat together every night and really cheered the Knicks on. Nate ran the steps after practice and on game days and kept himself ready to go if the team needed him.
But the Knicks didn't need Nate. When Nate was benched, the Knicks were 3-14. THREE AND FOURTEEN! When Nate came back, the Knicks were 12 and 20 and right in the thick of the playoff race. The Knicks excelled in a team first concept without Nate.
Have you seen the Knicks lately? They are playing great help defense, and really sharing the ball well. They arn't running as much, but they are all playing very hard on both ends. Some days they are just not talented enough, but during th 9-6 Nate-less December, the Knicks beat more teams they shoudln't beat then they did lose to teams they should beat. A team that had won only 3 of it's first 17 games actually won nine of fifteen. Think of what a huge swing that is!
And when New Years rolled around, Larry Hughes was bothered by injuries and bad play, and the Knicks needed him, D'Antoni called on Nate. And Nate came through. He didn't get 41 points because Nate is a star athlete and can get 41. He got 41 because the team was begging him to keep scoring big baskets to force OT and win the game in OT. Nate did what the team needed him to do, he even got 8 assists in that game.
Thanks to D'Antoni, Nate's game grew.
You have to give D'Antoni credit for how he played the Nate situation. The Knicks won 3 out of every 5 games without Nate, and now when we needed Nate, he boosted us to a huge win, and now we've won two straight. That's an 11-6 run for a team that was 3-14! D'Antoni made a bold call to bench arguably the Knicks most popular player, Nate grew up, took his benching like a man, and worked to stay better, Nate learned the mental lessons he needed to learn, and now Nate is fitting right in with the surging Knicks.
The Knicks became a dangerous team when they took the selfish Nate out of the lineup. And now the Knicks are more dangerous that they have the selfless Nate.
So what is wrong with D'Antoni? Nothing. Why was Nate benched? To change him for the better. What was D'Antoni thinking? Whatever it was, it's led the Knicks to 11 wins out of 17, so I hope he thinks like that more as the season continues.
Posted on: December 8, 2009 3:14 am
December has been a good month for New York. The Knicks are 4-1 this month and are one good two week stretch of winning some games that could go either way from being in the playoff hunt, the new Nate-less 8 man rotation has found great success and some big wins. And that two week stretch of coin flip games where the Knicks need to get wins to get in the playoff hunt, it actually starts right now. I think it's important to examine the Knicks month game by game, quickly, because each game seemed like a fluke or a lucky break on it's surface, but I think if you look at the big picture, you can see a changing trend in the way the Knicks are playing, a change for the better.
Knicks 126 Suns 99
What went right:
Knicks shoot well from the arc (14-31). Play enough D to hold the Suns under 100 for the first time this year, including great perimeter D. No small task considering the higher then average temp both teams play at. Gallo has a great shooting game. Nate is benched in the first half, never returns, Knicks cruise without Nate.
Excuse from the other side: Suns had an off day. Suns can't be stopped by the Knicks, so they beat themselves. These games happen. Missed a lot of 3's (4-17)
Magic 118 Knicks 104
What went right:
Little. Magic kill the Knicks. Still shoot well from the arc (10-24). Nate still didn't play.
Excuse from the other side: None needed
Knicks 114 Hawks 107
What went right:
Knicks shoot well from the arc (11-25). Win without Gallo. D'Antoni sticks to his guns, doesn't play Nate. Duhon picks his game up. Knicks close the game out with very efficent offense, take control after trailing by 1 after 3 and get a rather easy road win. Play good perimeter D.
Excuse from the other side: Josh Smith got ejected. Missed a lot of 3's (4-23). It's the Knicks, who cares?
Knicks 106 Nets 97
What went right:
Knicks shoot well from the arc (6-15). Play good perimeter D. Nate doesn't play. Hughes and Lee help Harrington. Hold the Nets to 36 points in the second half after letting up 61 in the first half. Knicks control the boards big time despite Lopez's size. Gallo gets his feet back under him.
Excuse from the other side: Missed a lot of 3's (5-16). Harris isn't 100% yet. We just won a game, been partying since then.
Knicks 93 Portland 84
What went right:
Knicks shoot well from the arc (13-26). Play great D. Nate doesn't play. Gallo and Hughes provide depth. Destroy Blazers so badly that Blazers can outscore Knicks by 14 in the 4th and still lose by 9. Hustled and forced a lot of turnovers.
Excuse from the other side: Oden, Rudy, Outlaw all injured. Missed a lot of 3's (1-8). It's the Knicks, who cares?
If I look at this 4-1 stretch from the Knicks, I see a lot of similar themes. This is 4-1 with 3 wins against very tough teams, so I ask you, have the Knicks got lucky, or are they playing good ball right now?
Have the Knicks hit at least 40% from the arc in each of the 4 wins because they are playing better O, because Nate isn't playing anymore, or because they are lucky?
Did the Knicks hold the Blazers and Suns to under 100 because the opponents were off that night, or because D'Antoni is shrinking his rotation, eliminating Nate's minutes and pourous D for the defensive Hughes, and because Gallo and Jeffries are playing better D, with even Al Harrington giving a solid defensive effort as of late?
Did the Knicks go 4-1 because the Suns were off, the Hawks lost Hughes, the Nets were just happy after a win, and the Blazers lost Roy, or because they are defending the arc much better?
I'm sure a lot of people will write off the Knicks recent success as a fluke, due to great shooting, and expect a regression very soon. They will discount the improvement since Nate stopped playing. They will figure more teams will take the Knicks seriously, and the Knicks will stop lucking into playing teams without great players at their service.
Well, the test to see what side is right is coming up:
Here is the Knicks upcoming schedule:
The Knicks shouldn't win those first two games. The Bobcats and Hornets, when at home, are better teams, despite the improvement New York has shown.
But watching the Knicks this month, I'm willing to say that the Knicks are better then the Bulls are right now, regardless of where the game is played. The Knicks are better then the Clippers and good enough to beat the Bobcats at the World's Most Famous Arena (but that one is close).
I'm willing to say the Knicks can go 4-2 in their next 6 games. This shorter rotation, no Nate Robinson, better defensive effort, and offense that is much improving, I think this Knicks team is playing right now like one of the 8 best teams in the East, and I think it's not just luck and fortunate circumstances, but an improvement in the way they are playing ball.
These next two weeks will tell a lot about the Knicks. Will they fall apart and lose 4 of these 6? Maybe they will. Maybe they can't win without the excellent 3 point shooting they have had this month. But the eyeball test, from me at least, tells me this team is fighting hard for 48 minutes. Knicks have had bad quarters and bad halves in this 4-1 stretch, but have played hard during each of the 4 wins. I think this new 8 man rotation has real potential, everyone seems to know their role, and the sum of the pieces is good enough to get a win against almost anyone on any given night. I said before the season that I thought the Knicks were a team good enough to be just outside the playoff picture, and maybe just 1 move away from the 8 seed. They are actually playing right now like that team. I think it's gonna last for a while.
Feel free to blast me if the Knicks end up sliding back to the depths of the East in the next 6 games. But if the Knicks do go 4-2 in this stretch, and keep playing as well as they have to secure wins like the Suns, Hawks, and Blazers, I'm gonna start hunting you guys down. Nobody wants to hear smack from a Knicks fan. So I'm giving you fair warning, and a chance to give it to me first if NY fades. But if they don't, we might just have a legitimate scary opponent in New York, something the NBA hasn't really said (or at least meant it if they did say it) for far too long.
Posted on: December 8, 2008 5:58 pm
A unique situation has occupied my time in the last few days, so I have not got to follow the Knicks as religiously as I tend to. Which is a shame after Sunday's performance
Review: New York Knicks 104-92 Detroit Pistons
I got nothing I can really add from my unique view of the game, as I was busy working out a nice deal in my personal life over on the left coast. My personal life (I guess it's my job, more like my method of earning income) is boring to everyone else and I won't even bother to try to give you guys any context, but let's just say it takes some very unique circumstances to keep me from watching the Knicks. Will I be pulled away by the whims of fate and opportunity again this season? Maybe. But let's just sum up some very generic points, instead of giving you some in depth look at how the Knicks played that goes beyond the standard boxscore, I'll go straight fanboy.
- KNICKS WIN!!!!!!
- Detroit is a struggling team since the AI trade, but let's face it, they are a talented team on paper with size. The Knicks dominated the game and may be coming into form with their speed and small ball. Lee is becoming a force on the boards and Duhon, when he is on, can keep the Knicks in big games.
- Knicks are going on the road for 5 straight games. It's Chicago, New Jersey, Sacremento, Phoenix, and the Lakers. The Knicks are 9-11 at the moment, and these first 4 winnable games of the road trip (Yes, at Phoenix is winnable. Phoenix stinks, trust me) with go a long way to defining this season. The Knicks are a talented bunch with a lot of youth and a lot of vets, still working on cohesion and learning how to win. The Knicks have been awful on the road for years, but need to start this road trip out hot if they have any dreams of making the playoffs. Can the Knicks go 3-1 and get to LA with a .500 record? They sure can. Will they? It's highly highly doubtful. But's it's possible and the thought will entertain the thoughts of Knicks fans for the next week's worth of games.
- Look forward to the reintroduction of intellegent basketball discussion in this section after the Chicago game, when I can witness it with my own two eyes.
Preview: New York Knicks (+8) at Chicago Bulls, Tuesday 8:30 pm ESTThis is going to be a really fun game. Duhon returns to Chicago to face a stud rookie PG in Derrick Rose. Rose should have his way off the dribble, but the Knicks will have a big advantage down low with Lee and Harrington. The play of Q Rich and Chandler will be essential to any chances the Knicks have of walking out with a win on Tuesday. The Knicks are going to need to hit threes from both guys, and get drible penetration from Chandler to give the Knicks a threat on the drive outside Duhon and Harrington. This one is going to be real enjoyable, I hope all Knicks fans and casual fans of the NBA make the time to tune this one in.
Knicks-centric stats match-up:Again: Since the Knicks are a team that runs the D'Antoni offense, posting typical team offensive/defensive stats is pretty silly. I will use offensive and defensive efficiency, a.k.a. how many points a team scores and allows per 100 possessions. Hopefully this will give people a better idea on how teams will stack up against the unique style the Knicks offer.
Knicks on offense:
Knicks offensive efficiency: 102.9 points/100 (19th in the NBA)
Bulls defensive efficiency: 103.0 points/100 (13th in the NBA)
Knicks on defense:
Bulls offensive efficiency: 100.4 points/100 (23rd in the NBA)
Knicks defensive efficiency: 107.1 points/100 (25h in the NBA)
My prediction and some more fun about the game will come tomorrow, but I wanted to put together a post before then after the Pistons win. Enjoy this week in the NBA everybody!
Posted on: November 30, 2008 1:17 am
First, a quick self-high-five. I wrote about the Knicks game against Golden State "I think the Warriors will have tired legs after this long road trip (4th road game in 5 days), give up a ton of easy buckets to the Knicks inside, and answer back with quick scores of their own, but it will not be enough." How good am I? Never mind I predicted a 4 point Knicks win when instead the Knicks blew the Warriors out of the water, just focus on the first half of my prediction that worked out really well .
Review: New York Knicks 138-125 Golden State Warriors
Wow. What a way to even up the Knicks' record to 8-8! The Knicks caught a Warriors team at the right time, tired off the end of a East coast trip, and took full advantage of the situation. Let's just get right to it.