February Blues

Written by Declan Ryan
With the Superbowl done and dusted, it’s suddenly all back to normal in New York. At the start of the season I wrote an article detailing why us Knicks fans should be optimistic about the 13/14 campaign – how wrong I was.
The Knicks are a mess this year, however at 19-28 they stand only two spots off the playoffs and next face Milwaukee in what is a very winnable game. It’s important to look at the here and now with this team; Dolan is not interested in a rebuilding project, of course the priority is keeping Melo, but the only way you do that is by winning games. The Knicks have to prove that this current roster won’t be a waste of space until 2016 when contracts are up and significant changes can be made. Unfortunately though I cannot offer optimism, and a quick look at the Knicks’ February schedule will almost certainly sway you too. Here’s my prediction for the Knicks record over the month of February:
Feb 6th – Blazers (Loss)
Feb 8th – Nuggets (Loss)
Feb 9th – Thunder (Loss)
Feb 13th – Kings (Win)
Feb 19th – Grizzlies (Loss)
Feb 20th – Pelicans (Win)
Feb 22nd – Magic (Win)
Feb 23rd – Hawks (Loss)
Feb 25th – Mavericks (Loss)
Feb 28th – Heat (Loss)
3-7. Honestly. The Kings, Pelicans and Magic are all winnable games against mediocre opponents, and should be won comfortably. On the other hand, teams such as the Grizzlies, Mavericks and Nuggets have all put up respectable records so far in a ridiculously tough Western Conference, and despite all of them only being marginally over .500, it’s hard to argue that players such as Zach Randolph, Mike Conley, Dirk, Monta Ellis, and Ty Lawson will be even slightly slowed down by the Knicks turgid and uncompromisable mess of a defense. After this brutal month of scheduling, the Knicks would be left with a 22-35 record – only one more win than the 8th seed Charlotte Bobcats currently have. I would go even further into the Knicks schedule, but I feel the point has been made. To me it’s not even necessarily a matter of coaching for this team, don’t get me wrong I think Woodson is borderline getting away with murder in the way he has poorly coached this team, but the majority of the fault should be left in the hands of the GM, whether that’s Glen Grunwald or Steve Mills, it doesn’t particularly matter. 
Of course it’s neither Grunwald’s or Mills’ fault that Woodson plays JR 30+ minutes a night, or that Hardaway Jr. can’t play defense, or even that Tyson appears to be more fragile than a pane of glass. But it is their fault that there isn’t anyone else but Melo to step up and take JR’s minutes, or that there isn’t anyone capable of being more of a two way player than Hardaway Jr. – in this way I do sympathise with Woodson, whilst he isn’t getting the most out of his players or giving other players a consistent chance to show what they can do, it is fair to say that this team’s defensive talent is equivalent, if not lower than even the animals in Central Park Zoo – at least a gorilla would attempt to stop his man going past him on every possession *cough Beno *cough. More to the point, if some of you’re key guys are Felton, JR, Bargs, Amar’e and Melo, then you’re going to be a below average defensive team, and this is what frustrates me about the Knicks. For all their good play we’ve seen in patches this year (think Texas), we only win when we’re making shots, for the most part, our defense is still sub-standard. This strategy worked relatively well with D’Antoni when we had 3 point shooters spread around the perimeter, ready to pick up the slack if someone had an off-night, but of course by trading away our last remaining 3 point shooter (Novak) for a player who’s shot 31 and 29% the previous two seasons from deep (Bargs), it’s easy to look at the Knicks with a sigh, and wonder where it all went wrong.
Still at least we have Copela… oh.
Happy February Knicks fans.

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