By John Schmeelk
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The stamp is on the envelope. The letter is in the mailbox, and the postman is bringing it to its destination. The Knicks are mailing in the season.
Their hopes of catching the Atlanta Hawks (26-32) are slim to none, sitting six games out of the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference. The season is over. The team knows it, and their play shows it.
They no longer care to try.
Since February 1, the Knicks (21-39) are 2-12. The Knicks also have the worst defense in the NBA over those 14 games, allowing 111.6 points per 100 possessions. Mike Woodson has taken plenty of hits for his defensive strategy and schemes this year — and rightfully so — but being that bad over a whole month reflects on a team’s effort more than anything a coach puts up on the white board. The Knicks simply aren’t playing hard. They don’t care.
The Knicks haven’t been prepared to play on a nightly basis. Only three teams have been outscored by more points in the first quarters since Feb. 1 than New York. Only one team has a lower net rating (point differential per 100 possessions), only two teams have played worse defense, and only three have played worst offense in first quarters in the last month.
That’s how bad it’s been. There have been some cosmetic comebacks to make the overall numbers look better, but how much better does lipstick make a pig look? Not much.
All these numbers are a terrible reflection on the players and the coach. The team has given in to a terrible season and Woodson has been unable to pull them out of it. If James Dolan had any doubt he should have changed coaches back in December when this season was still salvageable. If Steve Mills doesn’t regret failing to blow this entire thing up at the All-Star break, he should get a psychiatric evaluation.
This team is dead. They’ve quit. The season is over.
There are no legitimate reasons to explain a fall this epic. It would have been understandable if the Knicks would have regressed as many as 10 or even 15 wins this year considering the struggles of their back court, injuries and losses of some veterans from last season. But dropping what will end up being nearly 25 games in the standings from last season is unforgivable and inexplicable. Carmelo Anthony hasn’t had a significant injury. In fact, he’s having one of the best seasons of his career.
Why should fans even turn on MSG to watch the Knicks anymore? It’s so much more fun watching the real version of the Walking Dead on AMC.
Why show up to the games? If we wanted to watch a group of people not give a damn about their job, we’d just go to the DMV. We can do that for free.
Fans on Twitter have started the transition from anger to apathy. That perhaps more than anything else should scare Dolan. The Knicks, due to their own indifference on the court, will make themselves irrelevant in New York.
In a renovated — excuse me, transformed — Madison Square Garden, Dolan has no product.
His team is done.
You can follow me on Twitter @Schmeelk for everything Knicks, Giants, Yankees and the world of sports.
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