We all know what the goal we had set. Everybody wants to win the championship: that’s the goal, that’s the ultimate goal…We’ll take this time off this offseason to regroup and come back better and stronger next season. – Carmelo Anthony, NBA.com.
Ay Dios mio! What happened?
This Eastern Conference semifinal matchup between the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks played out like the tune of a disorganized swing band at the Hollywood Bowl. A brawl broke out between the brass and woodwind sections, and the thin Knicks got their reeds snapped.
New York wasn’t always this pitiful. Perhaps this Knicks team emptied their can of smack on the wrong set of foes, trampling most of the NBA—including the Pacers—during their season-ending 15-1 run. Carmelo Anthony was the headliner, stealing the scoring title fair and square from Kevin Durant.
The Knicks were the toast of the town and were primed to make good on their great expectations.
However, despite those great leaps, the second season’s start pointed to apparent demise. After a J.R. Smith elbow made sweet chin music with Jason Terry’s face in the Eastern quarterfinals, the Knicks began to play possum and feign doom. It was a move worthy of a daytime Emmy.
God bless the Boston Celtics. They play a mean live underdog. But the Knicks protected their house.
No matter. As the beautiful Dionne Warwick sings, a house is just not a home. The younger Pacers marched into Madison Square Garden with their work boots on and muddied up the pristine parquet, snatching Game 1 and forcing the Knicks to win a game under the yellow sea of Indiana Pacers tees.
As expected, road Game 3 was a total Knicks cop-out. Big Roy Hibbert danced on the Knicks with the grace of Alvin Ailey and the savvy of a certain San Antonio Hall of Famer, leaving Coach Woodson more shaken than Mobb Deep.
In fear, Coach Woody disavowed the small lineup pledge and instead gave his erratic hothead Kenyon Martin Game 4 starting minutes at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. It was a move that failed spectacularly.
Suddenly, with more Carmelo isolations and J.R. bricks than ever before, the Knicks were a game away from defeat.
Thank God for a good home crew. Those Gotham fans chewed their cuticles and cheered this squad back to Indianapolis, even though both teams played a disgusting Game 5.
It’s tough to be out of the playoffs, period…it hurts right now. That’s all I can really say. It hurts. – Raymond Felton, MSG Network.
Alas. Game 6, the Knicks' entertaining final number, would be given short shrift on the Pacers stage. It was Indianapolis’ night and season, with New York falling apart down the stretch like Bleek Gilliam’s final solo in Mo’ Better Blues.
J.R. Smith was 4-of-15 in Game 6. Raymond Felton was 0-of-7. Carmelo Anthony got his dunk blocked. And Jason Kidd flat left his hoop game in Macy’s Christmas Santaland. The Pacers were smarter, tougher and wiser, beating the older Knicks with a young man’s interpretation of the old man game.
Still, a round of applause is due the Knicks. New York won 60 games and a playoff series, racing to an exciting Game 6 finish like the thoroughbred horses that ran the Pimlico short track a few hours earlier. Like those stallions, the Knicks were slowed by a downpour (courtesy of Lance Stephenson) and now watch as their future becomes their present.
What happens now?
Yeah, it’s tough. It’s never easy to sit there and watch…it’s something that I think I’ll have to sit down with Coach Woody and express to him. – Amar'e Stoudemire, MSG Network.
Amar'e Stoudemire is owed more than $40 million in guaranteed dough over the next two seasons. Smith makes less than he's worth and is going to ask for more money. Tyson Chandler already has 12 good NBA years under his belt and is closing in on his 31st birthday. Anthony is at his physical peak. And the old guys (Kidd, Marcus Camby, et al) aren’t getting any younger.
Can the New York Knicks hold their championship window open for another season? Or will they just tease their fans like a girlfriend playing hard to get? Together, we’ll watch this new tale get told.
Vaya con Dios, Nueva York.