Melo and the Knicks are missing the point – they’re heading the wrong way.
Several weeks back, shortly after the Carmelo Anthony trade, Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said he’d be satisfied if the Knicks won half of their remaining games.
Way to set the bar high, coach.
You’ve got two superstars on your team: two of the five top scorers in the NBA in Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire, and your goal is mediocrity. Sadly, the way the Knicks are playing right now, they’d settle for playing .500 ball.
The playoffs, which seemed like a lock a few weeks back, are no sure thing anymore.
The Knicks are in a free fall, having lost five straight and eight of their last nine games. It would take an historic collapse for the Knicks to miss the post-season in the NBA’s weak Eastern Conference, but after losing to the likes of the Bucks, Pacers, Pistons, and Cavs, the playoffs are no longer automatic.
Here’s the progression of a typical Knicks game: Come out flat and fall way behind in the first quarter, play catch-up ball in the second and third, then fail to execute in the fourth and go down to defeat. Again and again, the pattern repeats.
“It’s going to take a while,” D’Antoni said several weeks ago. “I don’t think we’ll get it as well as we want this week or next week. But at the end of the year we should have it real good. In the meantime we have to get in the playoffs—whatever seed it is and prepare for that team.”
“I know everybody’s anxious. I’m anxious, the players are anxious. There’s no way you can throw four to six new guys into a rotation and all be on the same page. Some teams exploit things we haven’t gone over.”
The Knickerbockers are good in one area: excuses. Peter Vecsey outlined a few of those excuses in his always entertaining Hoop du Jour in the New York Post.
Excuses, Excuses, Excuses
“Everybody has them and goes to ‘em nightly. You all know the drill by heart—trade adjustments; readjustments to Billups returning from a thigh bruise, though the team was 4-1 without him; rough March schedule; rough upbringing; rough surf; the dog ate my home-court advantage; James Dolan spending too much time getting Radio City ready for Charlie Sheen.”
D’Antoni is part of the problem. More than one Knicks fan has suggested he remove the “D” from his name—since his team doesn’t play any.
Earlier this week, the Knicks decided not to practice on an off-day—although it’s obvious they need the work. “If nothing else,” one player said, “we need a break from each other.”