After the first third of the 2013 NBA campaign was complete, the New York Knicks were blazing a trail that not only put the entire NBA on notice, there was serious talk about maybe this being Melo’s shot at winning his first ever MVP trophy. My oh my how quickly thing’s change. If nothing else, watching this season is a constant reminder that an NBA season is not a sprint, but indeed a marathon. I know the Knicks are second in the East behind Miami with a 42-26 overall record, but as the season winds down and the playoff contenders continue to jockey for position, the brand of basketball on display at the Garden from the beginning of this season to now is like night and day.
Melo being the leader on this team was giving effort on the defensive end of the floor never before seen his entire career up til now, and in turn, his teammates were following his lead until -it seems- Amare came back. Once Amare got back in the lineup it was back to the free for all on offense and to hell with it all on defense. Everything just vanished; no more ball movement, no more unselfishness, and no more listening to Mike Woodson.
The Knicks went from being a viable threat for winning it all, to a sure enough first round fall. As much as I like Melo’s tenacity and flat out scorer’s mentality, taking 65 shots to get 42 points is absurd!!! I don’t care who you are. Whatever offensive efficency the Knicks were utilizing at the beginning of this season is now gone and as a result (in my opinion), so to is Tyson Chandler and Amare. Playing out of sync has lead to unecessary injuries and Amare and Chandler get in each other’s way; when both are on the floor at the same time, Chandler is no more than a garbage man asked to pick up everbody else’s trash. The Knicks are most effective when Chandler is involved with the offense as a pick-n-roll player if nothing else. Right now the Knicks are 11th in total offense at 98.8 per/gm. If the season ended today, the Knicks would face off against the Celtics; do you think the Knicks win a series against Doc & co. playing free for all ball? I don’t either. The Knicks may be a number 2 seed, but they sure ain’t playin’ like one.
In order for the Knicks to avoid an early exit from this year’s playoffs, Amare must come off the bench, J.R. Smith needs to have a “governor” put on his v-8 type jump shot, and Melo needs to get back to his early season understanding of being a “table setter” first, and a scorer when the time calls for him to do so. It’s not how many shots you take that make the difference between winning and losing, it’s when you take em’. Another first round exit on his resume and Melo will be another forgotten scoring statistic.