The Knicks stink again.They got rolled on by the Spurs last night, and have now lost five of seven games since Carmelo Anthony returned from injury.
Here’s what’s gone so wrong, in order of importance:
1. The team defence has fallen apart. For all the craziness surrounding Jeremy Lin, the Knicks were winning because of defence.
In the nine games Carmelo was out, the Knicks didn’t allow more than 100 points in a game once. In the seven games since Carmelo game back, they’ve allowed more than 100 five times.
The problem is that Anthony, Lin, and Amar’e Stoudemire are all below average defenders — which means Tyson Chandler has to both shut down the opposing team’s best big man and face an onslaught of players driving to the basket. Not a recipe for success.
2. They’re no longer running the offence that made them successful with Jeremy Lin. Lin dominated the ball while Carmelo was out. The Knicks almost exclusively ran pick-and-rolls with Lin until he was able to break down the defence. And it worked.
But now that Carmelo and Amar’e are back, the offence has reverted back to the isolation-based mess that it was before Lin arrived. When Lin does run a pick and roll with Chandler or Stoudemire, he’s no longer looking to find his shot or pass to the roll man — he’s looking to kick the ball out to Carmelo or Landry Fields on the wing. Sometimes it works out, and Carmelo gets an open look. But more often than not he kicks to Carmelo, Carmelo holds it, and the offence stagnates.
3. Tyson Chandler is hurt. The Spurs dismantled the Knicks without Chandler last night. It’s clear that he’s the team’s most important player because of what he does on defence.
4. They aren’t making open shots. You can’t really complain about this one because jump-shooting is a notoriously inconsistent way to generate offence. But JR Smith, Jeremy Lin, Carmelo Anthony, and Amar’e Stoudemire have all struggled to bury open looks.
As terrible as the Knicks are playing, they’d be competitive in most of these games if their star players were shooting how they shot in past years.
Are the Knicks FINISHED?!
No. Things look bleak right now. But trying to build chemistry between Lin, Carmelo, and Amar’e (not to mention the cast of characters on the bench) while playing fives games a week is going to take some time.
And since the East is so weak, the Knicks have all kinds of time.
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