New York Knicks: Season on the Brink


Dec 8, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) looks on against the Boston Celtics during the second half at Madison Square Garden. The Celtics won the game 114-73. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The loss to the Boston Celtics Sunday should be a wake-up call for both Coach Mike Woodson and his philosophies.  What Woodson is currently doing just will not work with the current athletes; it is that plain and simple. The New York Knicks faced a Boston team in a rebuilding mode, the same team that traded its superstars for draft picks. This is the same Boston team that hired the youngest coach in the NBA this season. Losing is one thing, but to lose by over 40 in Madison Square Garden makes New Yorkers crazy. This New York Knicks team is facing a season on the brink.  Changes must be made and made soon.


Once again, Woodson stuck with small ball and started Tim Hardaway Jr.  Now, I love Hardaway, but it would have made more sense to start Prigioni who led a 13-game win streak last year when paired with Ray Felton in the backcourt. Felton alone in the backcourt is simply not working.  Woodson has to make the changes and Steve Mills needs to start reviewing the trade front.  Regardless of what many reporters write, the Knicks have assets and can makes some moves. 


The game started out the same way it finished — ugly.  It seemed from the beginning Boston wanted this game more. It was 12-0 and 18-1 before the Celtics took their biggest lead of the first quarter at 32-7. Once again, the Knicks gave up over 30 points in a quarter. How does a defensive team give up over 30 points in a quarter consistently?  Especially to this transitioning, rebuilding Celtics team — one that leads the Atlantic Division at 10-12 — without their best player, Rajon Rondo. But the Knicks made them look like legitimate contenders Sunday at the Garden.


As stated above, the Knicks organization needs to step up or they will lose this season. It begins with Woodson.  Woodson needs to make some quick changes to this team or Dolan will. It begins in the backcourt. Ray Felton continues to be abused by other point guards. Sunday, the Knicks’ backcourt was clearly outplayed. Avery Bradley scored 13 points, was a beast on defense and was a plus-40. Jordan Crawford scored 23 points and was a plus-38.  Felton, on the other hand, was 0-6 in 20 minutes and a minus-38. Are you starting to get the picture? Starting point guards don’t get shut out in New York at the Garden.  Ask Clyde Frazier if he was ever shut out. Pablo Prigioni played only 17 minutes, was 1 for 1 and an even 0, in the plus minus category.  If I was Steve Mills, I would be on the phone today to acquire Kyle Lowry.    


Lowry is in the final year of his contact at an affordable $6.2 million and believed to be eminently available because he’s not part of Toronto’s future plans. The Knicks need a legitimate point guard; Felton is a good guy, a decent player and would make a great backup, but as a starter, he is just making the grade. Last year, his inadequacies were hidden by Kidd or Prigioni. Had anyone ever noticed the entire last year, the Knicks in essence always had two point guards in their backcourt at the same time, why is that?  With Kidd gone, Felton has been exposed. Even at 40, Jason Kidd was recognized as a great defender, far superior than Felton. Shumpert should be played at shooting guard, he is not a three and playing him and Hardaway at the same time is just redundant. Starting Prigioni or Metta World Peace, even Amare Stoudemire, would have been a better option. 


The Celtics not only dominated the game, they dominated the boards. They out-rebounded the Knicks 46 to 26. Why hasn’t Woodson given Cole Aldrich any minutes? He is not a starter, but during Chandler’s entire absence, he gave him no time.  At 6’11”, Aldrich is one of the only players on the Knicks over 6’6”, except for a fading Kenyon Martin, who brings any defense to the equation at all and who was out Sunday with ankle issues. Yesterday in 6 limited minutes he had 3 rebounds, second to Carmelo Anthony, who led the Knicks with 5. Aldrich is big, sets good picks, boxes out, and deserves some minutes. The Knicks will not win small. Sunday, with Anthony and Bargnani up front and three guards, Boston won at every position.


The Celtics shot 54.2 percent overall, 56.0 percent from three-point range. Their starters outscored the Knicks’ first team 89-29. Jordan Crawford and Jared Sullinger — not exactly Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett — had 23 and 21 points, respectively, for Boston.


Amar’e Stoudemire had his best game of the season and hopefully his trade value will soon soar. Stoudemire shot 5-for-7 and had 17 points in 20:58. Pablo Prigioni had four assists and ran the offense in the second quarter as the Knicks tried to climb back in it.  It was just too little too late.  Woodson needs to change his lineup and start giving others a chance. Toure’ Murry once again played well in 6 minutes and shot 2 for 4 — maybe he could be a fixture in the Knicks backcourt in the future. It’s time for change, and Woodson should use the most recent loss as a wakeup call. He needs to play the players that come to play, that are hungry and stop allowing other teams to start of great.  By not making any changes in the lineup, he is sending a message to his team.  It’s time for a change, either Woodson makes the necessary changes or we will have to look to General Dolan once again, to right this ship.  


Dr. Eric Kaplan is a bestselling author

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