James Dolan and Donald Sterling have long been the Biggie and Tupac of terrible large-market NBA owners. Dolan repped the East coast with such legendary hits as "Ride (with Zeke) or Die" and "What's Anucha Browne Sanders Got To Do With It", while Sterling kept it real for the West side with "I Don't Sell To Blacks." They have constantly tried to one-up each other during their decades of ownership, and the only real victims have been the fans of their respective teams, African-Americans, women and people with working ear drums.
While things have been looking up for both owners' teams recently, it was Sterling's Clippers who mopped the floor with Dolan's Knicks in 2012-13. Can the Knicks steal a game or two next season? Probably not...but hey, you've already read this far, so why not keep going? That's the spirit!
Sun., Feb. 10 (in New York): Clippers 102, Knicks 88
Sun., March 17 (in Los Angeles): Clippers 93, Knicks 80
Playing without the guy who scored 42 last time out (Melo), the Knicks managed even fewer points.
What went wrong:
Checking the Three Factors for Knick Dominance - guard play, ex-Knicks, Eddy Curry-trade draftees - the Clippers only had two, but they had both in spades. Our old buddy Jamal Crawford did fairly typical Jamal things, with one good game (27 points on 12-22 shooting) and one bad game (12 points on 5-15 shooting). And Jamal was never the Clippers guard the Knicks really needed worry about.
Wooo boy, the Knicks' defense was simply not cut out for playing against Chris Paul. In both games the Knicks played at their preferred pace - slower than slow - and in both games the ultra-efficient Paul cut them to pieces, averaging 22.5 points and 7.5 assists per game. Defensively, they played about as well as could have been expected - particularly in the second game, sans-Melo. Offensively, they didn't get much production out of anyone besides Melo and Felton, who played well in both losses. J.R. Smith had a pair of "Bad J.R." stinkers - shooting 1-for-9 in the first game, 4-for-20 in the second. The Clippers D was underrated last season - eighth overall in defensive efficiency - and the Knicks didn't have any answers even when they played with a full roster.
What to expect next season:
Did you hear: the Clips have a new coach. I know Bill Simmons heard. Perhaps no other team has impacted the Atlantic Division quite like the Clippers. Their successful courtship of Doc Rivers led to the breakup of the Celtics (yay!) and the creation of the "KG and Turtle-face Brooklyn Jamboree" (boo!). When it comes time to actually face Doc's Clippers, the Knicks will be handicapped by two key factors:
- Doc Rivers knows the Knicks exceedingly well.
- Doc Rivers is not Vinny Del Negro.
Whatever your opinion of factor #1, you have to admit that factor #2 should be worth at least 10 points right from the get-go.
In July the Clips traded Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler for J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley. Some NBA pundits have criticized the Clippers for failing to add depth to their front court. Now, that may very well prove true come Western Conference playoff time, when they will be matched up with the Rockets, Spurs and/or Grizzlies, but I can't think of a more damaging trade from the Knicks' perspective. Redick is the kind of shooter who can (and probably will) have a career night, spotting up with nary a Knick in sight while Paul is creating havoc off the dribble and Mike Woodson is throwing triple-teams at DeAndre Jordan for some reason. And Jared Dudley absolutely murdered the Knicks last time they played (36 points). Throw in the fact that he the potential target in last year's terrifying Iman Shumpert trade, and I just don't like Jared Dudley.
One more addition to next year's Clippers in 2013 draftee Reggie Bullock. Just like with the Trail Blazers and Allen Crabbe, the Knicks will be facing a shooting guard many fans wanted instead of Tim Hardaway Jr. And once again I am scared of this guy lighting us up. Come ready to play, Timmy Deuce!
The Clips may have crashed out early in last year's playoffs, and endured an off-season turmoil, but they have emerged with their star point guard resigned and an upgrade at head coach. This team is a terrible match-up for New York, and the Knicks will need to play at maximum efficiency to take a game or two.