Was able to catch most of the third and fourth quarters of this game. Having not really seen much since the San Antonio win, I was able to notice the contrast.
1. Felton is just not himself. He's busting it out there and trying to play through that ankle pain but he's a bit slow defensively and is not displaying his misdirecting, jabby, direction changing, space creating quickness on offense. It's rendered him kind of ordinary, and I think it's impacting his confidence out there. And I think that impacts the confidence of all the other young guys. I saw a team playing scared on offense. Gallo, Chandler, and everyone else seems to be deferring to Ray, giving him the ball back. But Ray seemed without swagger. They look afraid to fail out there.
2. The only guy that seems to have the balls to take the team on his back is Amar'e, and that's awesome, except that there's a significant weakness to Amar'e's game which has started to become apparent. I mean, the guy has great offensive skills out there and is very hard to stop. But his passing seems to be limited to handoffs, or the occasional interior pass to a cutter. If I was devising a strategy against the Knicks, I would actually try to get them to give him Amar'e the ball at the elbow, because it looks to me that he's unable to pass it and a reasonably quick defender can prevent him from getting all the way to the basket, which often results in a turnover. It seems that once Amar'e decides to drive, you don't have to worry much about the outside shooters. And that means being able to flood the middle with rebounders and interior pass deny-ers.
I think this is all just part of the process - the Knicks had some success and teams are countering it now. The Knicks, in turn, have to counter the counter. Not having Ray fully healthy makes that tough. I think in the next game you'll start to see some sort of strategy to have Amar'e start to throw some passes to get the ball quickly out to the perimeter. If he's going to turn the ball over, it might as well be trying a pass to a somewhat open teammate. And those teammates have to have the confidence to step up and keep shooting.
The idea of Melo out there is looking pretty good right now. And who knows, the rumors may be affecting the Knicks, but I don't think so. I think they're mostly suffering because Felton, the guy who has the alterna-swagger to give Amar'e space, is not really able to bring it. Defensively, I think that injuries to Felton and Douglas have slightly curtailed their perimeter D. Those guys are still pretty good but a slight dropoff in perimeter D really messes up the Knicks overall D. But I still think the problem is more offensive.
Then again, I didn't see the first half. But about 4 minutes into the 4th quarter, even though they were in striking distance, I didn't feel like there was any chance they were going to pull it out.
I have specific memories of many Knick coaches, from Hubie Brown, Rick Pitino, John Macleod, Riley, Van Gundy, Chaney, Wilkins, Brown, Isiah et cetera. Some of these guys were good coaches. Even the guys I loved did things which were incomprehensible to me from time to time. I've learned it's never as simple as it seems. Sometimes the solutions seem simple but they usually aren't.
This team has holes. Most coaches will overcompensate trying to fill the holes - but D'antoni just kind of tries to push the strengths and hopes that overcomes the holes. A lot of times it works. He's got to figure out a counterpunch because teams are stopping us and beating us right now. The pattern indicates he'll figure something out and we'll win a game or two.