Photo: MSG Network
Now that the dust has cleared and Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams are just like any other member of their new teams, it’s time to move away from the hypothetical and focus on the practical. As in, how will the new-look Knicks and Nets perform?Well the early returns are in and the verdict ain’t so good. The Knicks played completely out of sync and fell to the lowly 11-win Cavaliers, 115-109. Anthony dropped 27 but on 9-of-22 shooting and the Knicks were outscored by six points during his 39 minutes on the court. He also hurt his elbow.
But the offensive fluidity that the Knicks have displayed nearly all season clearly wasn’t there. There was too much one-on-one play and not enough pick-and-rolls or drive-and-kicks, staples of coach Mike D’Antoni’s offence. Then again, partly in thanks to the play of Chauncey Billups, the Knicks still scored 109 points. It was on defence, where they allowed the Cavs to exceed their season average by 20 points, that the team truly struggled.
Meanwhile, Deron Williams couldn’t get accustom med to his new teammates and was inconsistent in his 14-point, 12-assist Nets debut. By the end of the third quarter the Nets were down 16 to the Spurs, and the game felt even less close than that. Granted, the Spurs have been the best team in the league so far this year, especially at home, but with Prokhorov in attendance it would have been nice for the Nets to have at least made a game of it.
Obviously, we’re only a few days in to their respective tenures with new teams, but Anthony and Williams don’t have much time to get acclimated. Unlike Miami’s trio, which recovered in convincing fashion from an early season swoon, the Knicks and Nets don’t have the luxury of time. The Nets have to be nearly perfect to qualify for the playoffs, and a few teams are creeping up on New York from the bottom of the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
So while we’re aware that it will take Anthony and Williams more games before they begin looking like their old selves, they don’t have very much time left to improve their teams’ postseason standing. The playoffs are fast approaching.
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