By John Schmeelk
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Unless yesterday’s talk with George Costanza had a real impact, Mike Woodson is going to coach this team the way he wants to coach it. If he has proven one thing in his tenure here, it’s that he is stubborn. The Knicks are not going to play small. He is not going to limit J.R. Smith’s minutes when he can’t shoot a lick. Amar’e Stoudemire is not going to be benched, like he deserves. If Mike Woodson is not going to save himself, his only hope is if his players do it for him.
In James Dolan’s comical Q+A, he talked about how Woodson still had the respect of the team, and treats them all with relatively equal fairness. It’s time for the players to step up and show if they really do want Woodson as their coach. It begins with the star. Carmelo Anthony has to be better in his rotations, transition, and help defense. He also needs to be much more efficient on offense. His career low 42% field goal percentage and brutal 28% shooting from three has to get better. He also needs to stop settling for baseline turnaround fadeaway jumpers. The fact that was the shot he took against a much lighter and shorter Randy Foye at the end of the game against the Nuggets was an example of his poor shot selection. He must also initiate better ball movement. His teammates hitting a few shots would help to motivate him in that regard.
If Smith is going to play tons of minutes (I’ll believe they will be limited when I see it) he needs to be better than he has been. No player in this league should be shooting 33% for a sustained period of time. Of course, most coaches would have benched someone playing that poorly by now. Whether it is his knee or not matters little to anyone, especially James Dolan. He needs to simplify things and stick to spot up jumpers and drives to the basket. No more step back fadeaways. J.R. knows he has an unlimited hall pass from Woodson and he’ll never get benched, but he needs to play like he could be.
If Amar’e Stoudemire has to play (which apparently he does), he needs to put in a much more honest effort on defense. Working more in the pick and roll instead of the post would help facilitate ball movement too. Stoudemire might be the worst player in the league this year in terms to team plus/minus. He has been an albatross. Ray Felton needs to shoot better (39% FG, 25% 3PT) and so does Iman Shumpert (41% FG, 34% 3PT%) They need to give Carmelo Anthony someone to pass to when he is double teamed.
The entire team needs to give a more consistent effort on defense. Turning the intensity on and off isn’t going to work with Tyson Chandler out and with the team shooting as poorly as they are. If this group really wants Woodson as their coach, hold the Nets to 85 points tonight. They will be missing Deron Williams, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry. It is a very reachable goal. Run back on defense, don’t switch needlessly and keep your man in front of you. It’s simple stuff.
Woodson might not be fired right after the game tonight if the Knicks lose but it really is inevitable since he refuses to change his lineups, substitution patterns, rotation, and defensive strategy. The only thing that can save him is a serious winning streak. The only way that happens is if this team gets out of this terrible funk offensively. The guys that are being relied on to score have to be more efficient. I realize it sounds simple, but sometimes basketball is a very simple sport.
Woodson just had three days of practice. I hope he used them well. It might very well be the last days he will have as head coach of the Knicks to turn this thing around. But he needs help from his players. We’ll see tonight exactly how much they love their head coach. We’ll see how much they fight. We’ll see how much they care. We’ll also see if someone on this team can actually hit a shot.
You can follow me on twitter at twitter.com/Schmeelk for Knicks, Giants, NFL, NBA and Yankees.
You can follow me on twitter for everything Knicks, Giants, and New York sports at twitter.com/schmeelk.
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