You would think that maybe Mike Woodson would learn from the loss to the New Orleans Pelicans a couple of weeks ago. After Woodson pretty much single handily blows a more than winnable basketball game to an Anthony Davis-less New Orleans Pelicans team at home by sticking with JR Smith for the entirety of the 4th quarter over Iman Shumpert what does he do is a similar spot? Literally the EXACT same thing.
In a rare occurrence this season in which I saw glimpses of my beloved Knicks of a year ago, I watched a highly energized Iman Shumpert play a tremendous third quarter in its entirety before being taken out with under a minute remaining. Despite air balling one very ill advised three point attempt after making one, I though that Shumpert played a pretty flawless quarter of basketball, and despite not scoring much his aggressive defense was a catalyst for the Knicks run. The Knicks were able to play with energy, move the ball, play great defense and build and double digit lead despite trailing by 6 at half time. Despite not scoring the ball effectively Shumpert pushed the tempo on offense, moved the ball around (finished with 5 assists in his 23 minutes), and led the way with his tremendous defense. Shumpert was harassing the Celtics' guards from the backcourt forward, and as a direct result the Celtics shot the ball poorly and turned the ball over frequently.
Turn the page to the 4th quarter where we would not see Iman Shumpert return to the floor at the TD Garden as Head Coach Mike Woodson elected to stick with his pet JR Smith instead for the entire period of basketball. Neither one scored the ball tonight, but everything else that Shumpert had brought to the table it seemed that JR did the opposite. Despite not making a single field goal, committing crucial turnovers down the stretch, getting beat defensively so unforgivably on multiple occasions (seriously, they didnt even have to set a pick most of the time. There was one play in particular that I remember where he just stood and watched Avery Bradley blow right by him for an easy lay-up without using so much as a crossover) Head Coach Mike Woodson stuck with the embattled shooting guard for the entire 4th quarter as the Knicks effectively and predictably turned a promising double digit lead into another crushing loss.
I usually like to turn to Woodson's defense as this season's woes are FAR from all his fault. But this Mike Woodson/JR Smith love affair has to come to an end one way or another. No other head coach in the league would be playing Earl Joseph right now, let alone keeping him on the floor for an entire 4th quarter and helplessly watching their team squander an 11 point lead. A message needs to be sent to JR. Despite his poor play, boneheaded mistakes, and off the court incidents he is continuously rewarded with increased playing time over 2 young guards (Shumpert and Hardaway Jr.) that I believe can be very good players in this league and may very well even be the future of this team. He even has his fucking brother taking up a spot on our 15 man roster!
Enough is enough. This was supposed to be Shumpert's breakout season and instead we get to watch the man formally as Earl Joseph Smith III implode right in front of our eyes over asnd over again with no reconciliation while Shumpert's confidence continues to diminish. Mike Woodson needs to go, if only for the sake of Iman Shumpert.