The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty

Knicks 95, Hawks 98

I only caught the Knicks in 60 version of this one and it was the third game I’d watched on the night, so limited comments.

What to say about a game like this? No quarter had a scoring differential larger than 1 point, which is an oddity in and of itself. I’d like to focus on the good guys in this one, but honestly, that game until the final botch-a-mania on the last play by the Knicks was entirely about the Hawks, and what an odd team they’re becoming. What on earth does Mike Woodson do, exactly? His team seem to have just about 1 play to run, a spread isolation for any ol’ guy on the floor, who will then go one on one with whoever’s guarding him and hope that if he misses, one of his teammates will cut in for a rebound. It works alright because the Hawks have several good to excellent one on one players and Bibby and Johnson are decent enough shooters to handle the few kick-out passes which are thrown and the team is top-half in ORR (11th, 27.4%), but my God- how does he get away with it? The total effect is of five separate one on one games going on simultaneously and I have no idea what their “offense” is above and beyond throwing them a ball and telling them to go play with it. If Allen Iverson coached a team, it would look a lot like this; you could write their play selections on a flashcard, whose sole line would read “sometimes we should set screens, maybe.”

So, why have they beaten the Knicks 6 of the last 7, and 5 straight? Well, to put it bluntly, they’re more talented and have had a much higher energy level over games in the last year or so. But more specifically I think their style-less style actually exploits a consistant issue of the Knicks in recent times- their lack of good individual defenders. Against a lot of teams that can be partially compensated for by good rotations and help, but against a team playing these constant wide spreads the Knicks can’t really help any of their guys out and so you end up with one Knick after another getting flambe’d in playground fashion. You can see it reflected statistically in the free throw disparity: 6-6 for the Knicks, 15-21 for the Hawks, the latter number being run up from slaps on desperate late rotations and claw-backs of drivers who’d gotten a good first step. The Hawks partly compensated by shooting themselves in the foot with bad range shooting, as a team which averages 9-22 from 3 went 5-26 in this one to keep it close, but ultimately I’d chalk this loss 90% up to talent differential and a bad stylistic matchup. Now let us never speak of the Hawks again.

A last word on that last play: what happened there really can’t be allowed to happen again. You had two Knicks with open looks shuffling the ball back and forth, unwilling to take the last shot despite all kinds of chances, and one of them was Al “Sheriff and the Deputy” Harrington, who apparently found the only shot he didn’t want. I’m not going to blame or vilify those guys, but in future, it’s got to be clear that an open look must be taken. I think we really missed Nate on that play; here’s hoping his tweak isn’t a serious reinjury.


December 6, 2008 - Posted by | The NY Knicks | ,

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