Schmeelk: Hope For Knicks? Not Yet
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By John Schmeelk
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Yup, I’m going to be the wet towel. I’m raining on the parade. I prefer to call it perspective.
I hate to break this to Knicks fans and newspaper reporters everywhere, but that Knicks win on Sunday really didn’t mean a whole lot. Then again, the playoff losing streak everyone was talking about that spanned more than ten years really didn’t mean anything either. Knicks fans should not have hope after Sunday, but if they can somehow win Game 5, then we’ll have something to talk about.
I was very happy to see Amar’e Stoudemire all pleased with himself for coming back and helping the Knicks win a (at least right now) pretty meaningless Game 4. All I could think about is how he could have helped the Knicks anemic offense had he played in Game 3 at the Garden. For stretches of last Thursday’s game the Knicks had no movement, action towards the basket or interior presence. Stoudemire could have given the team all of those. The Heat are vulnerable on the road, and if Stoudemire hadn’t injured himself this could easily be a 2-2 series right now. I’m more than happy to give him credit for playing through the pain and going 20 and 10 with one hand, but there’s a big picture too.
As for Carmelo Anthony, Shane Battier put it fairly well after the game; he was bound to come up with a game like this eventually. Anthony is a dynamic scorer, maybe the best in the league, and the Heat were not going to be able to shut him down forever. Eventually, his shots were going to fall. He isn’t some kind of playoff choke artist some lazy writers have suggested. I realize one went in, and he was fouled on the other, but was anyone thrilled with the fact Carmelo Anthony’s two biggest shot attempts of the game were long three pointers?
That’s not the type of shot he should be taking when the game is on the line. If those shots are misses (which they would be most of the time, being low percentage shots), we are having a completely different conversation this morning. We’re talking about how the Knicks offense was stagnant down the stretch and Carmelo forced two long contested jumpers enroute to a loss. One game together isn’t some kind of sign that Carmelo, Amar’e and Chandler are compatible long term either. Don’t jump that shark just yet.
The Knicks did play good defense once again, a great sign since the one-handed Stoudemire was in the game. But down the stretch it fell apart once again. LeBron James was allowed to get into the lane for a three point play and then he was left wide open for a win three pointer. On the Heat’s final possession, Amar’e Stoudemire and Landry Fields mindlessly switched, leaving the Knicks one handed power forward on Wade 25 feet from the hoop. Wade promptly got to the hoop and if not for apparently mis-handling the ball, would have been soaring for a layup over Landry Fields. We all know that’s a make or a foul.
The Knicks also remain snake-bit with another player going down with a season ending knee injury. This time it was Baron Davis, who crumpled after a pretty hard to watch twist of his knee. Seriously, who’s next? What other ailment can potentially afflict the Knicks this series? So far we’ve had a stomach flu, torn ACL and meniscus, a dislocated knee cap, and a lacerated left hand.
So, are you mad at me yet? I figured you would be, so I’ll throw in some positives. There is something to be said for this team not just rolling over and dying like so many teams do after going down 3-0. They stuck with their coach and their teammates and played an inspired game. That credit can go to Mike Woodson and will help him in getting a contract extension for next season. I just see a lot of the same problems that hurt the Knicks in Games 1-3, except in this game Carmelo Anthony hit more of his shots. Is it really more complicated than that?
He can’t be relied upon to score 40 in every game for this team to win. You can’t win in the regular season that way, let alone the playoffs. JR Smith has to get out of his shooting slump. Amar’e Stoudemire needs to continue to be involved. The team needs to figure out what to do at the point guard position. Winning in Miami is much different than winning in New York too. The Heat are a different team at home. 40% of teams down 3-0 win Game 4’s. Much fewer manage to win another. Take Game 5, and you’ll see a much different opinion from me on Thursday morning.
You can follow Schmeelk on Twitter for everything Knicks, Giants, Yankees and New York sports @Schmeelk.