True Hoops

True Hoops

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Everybody Melo Out

Breath, stretch, shake, let it go.

Let me say up front that it is always a pleasure to see the New York media (and beyond) trash a player one night and then praise him the next.

How many people were questioning 'the trade' after Melo went 1-11 in the second half of the knicks game one loss to the Celtics on Sunday? How many of those same people were simultaneously glorifying the Nuggets and their superstar-less brand of ball (even though they also blew a double digit led and lost to the Thunder that very same night)?

All you hear now is Carmelo's game two performance (42 points, 17 rebounds, 6 assists - and almost single handedly beating the Celtics) was the best thing since Walt Frazier, Bernard King, and Patrick Ewing

Got to love those die hard fans.

Hopefully this puts to rest the debate as to whether the Knicks should have made 'the trade.'
In all honesty, anyone who thinks the Knicks shouldn't have made the trade or gave up too much to get Carmelo I don't even take seriously.
As Steve Kerr said last night during Carmelo's masterpiece "this is why you make the trade."

But beyond just one player, these last two games have shown me a lot.
And as a born again Knicks fan that has been to hell and back with this organization, I am more than ecstatic with their performance.

But performance aside, the Knicks are in a better position than you think.

I said coming into this series that although you can't count out Boston, the Knicks should actually win because they have the TWO best players. My concern (as probably was everyone else's) was the Knicks ability and mental fortitude to finish games down the stretch.

Not surprisingly both elements have revealed themselves thus far.

Amar'e was clearly the best post player in game one, and Carmelo was clearly the best player in game two. And because of that, the Knicks were a minute away from coming home up 2-0.

Mental toughness and finishing out basketball games has never been the strong point of this organization. It requires an attitude, confidence, and perhaps a degree of arrogance which eventually formulates into an air of greatness.

That's where having the best player(s) makes a difference. Carmelo and Amar'e certainly have some of the essential components. And both over the course of their careers have shown the ability to play big in big games and situations.

You'll still say the Knicks didn't finish.
Dig this. The ONLY reason the Knicks aren't up 2-0 is because they haven't even been hitting on all cylinders. Carmelo had an off night in game one and Amar'e couldn't play in game two.

If those two are there, these games wouldn't have even been that close.
And even with only one of them at a time, they STILL almost won BOTH of the first two games......on the road.

But in these tough situations, you gain the benefit of really finding out what you're made of.
0-2 hole aside, sometimes you may even be better off for it.

It was nothing short of a miracle that the Knicks had a chance to win game two.
Think about the line-up the Knicks went with through the second half:
Combinations of Bill Walker, Roger Mason jr., Jared Jeffries, Tony Douglas, Shawne Williams, and Ronny Turiaf.

How were they even in it?

Well, other than the fact that Melo was/is really that good, everyone one else played extremely hard and matched the toughness of the Celtics.
Most importantly they played TO WIN.
More so, they actually believed they would win, even after they fell behind 11 points in the third.
They just didn't let up.
The fight from the supporting cast kind of reminded me of the scrappiness and heart the Knicks played with in the 90's. And that in of itself says what the Knicks are on the verge of becoming.
The problem with the Knicks of the 90's was that they just never really had the star power other than Ewing.

These knicks do have the star power.

But over the past two games it has become apparent that they also have a supporting crew that's down to grind it out and is becoming more and more battle tested by the day.
Just look at what Tony Douglas has done. At this point do you really feel less confident with him playing instead of Billups? No disrespect to Mr. Big shot, but Tony has hit a few big shots this series as well.

Because of this development, I actually feel pretty confident the Knicks can get back in it over the weekend and still even win it.

It kind of reminds me of the year that LeBron and the Cavs went to the finals.
Remember, they fell behind 0-2 to the heavily favored Pistons (who won 67 games in the regular season) after losing the first two games in Detroit, both in the final moments.
Still, going back to Cleveland, it seemed as if everyone had a feeling that the Cavs were still in it and actually could beat the Pistons because of the mettle they displayed in defeat.

Well, it turns out they won the next four games and got to the Finals.

I'm just saying..... it could happen.

So just relax, take it easy and catch a quick breather to get ready for game three.
We got them right where we want 'em.

Technical considerations
Remember how I mentioned in a previous post that good teams make adjustments during the course of a game to either take away or counter what the opposing team is doing?

Boston did just that in game two.
When asked how they would guard Carmelo going into the fourth, Doc Rivers replied:
"We'll guard him one on one until we can't anymore."

It didn't take too long to determine that they couldn't guard him one on one in the fourth.
So, they switched it up and decided to double team him every time he touched the ball.
The bottom line was, they wanted to get the ball out of his hands and force other players to make plays and beat them.
Seemed to work out in their favor.

Of course this strategy might not have worked if Amar'e and/or Billups was playing.
But still, winning teams aren't passive. They don't let the other team and their players do whatever they want (Like letting Kemba walker go one on one isolation on a mismatch to win the game - for example).
Winning teams dictate the teimpo, on both sides of the ball.


There are even counter-strategies for when your best player is getting doubled.

For example, it might have been nice to see the Knicks clear out one side of the court to run a pick and roll with Tony Douglas and Carmelo - with Carmelo setting the screen.

This at the very least would have guaranteed an open shot for Douglas, who at the time was the Knicks second best player.

As Douglas comes off Carmelo's ball screen, he will have an open shot and maybe even an open lane to the basket - as the Celtics would be so concerned with Carmelo.
Unless of course, the defender guarding the screener (in this case Carmelo) decides to come out on Douglas and hedge the screen.
If this happens, then Douglas could flip the ball back to Carmelo for an open shot.
And that's all we want. That's all we want.

At the very least the Celtics get caught up in a switch and Rondo is left to guard Carmelo, who can then get his shot off quickly over the top of Rondo before the double team comes.


Why not run Carmelo off of a curl screen from underneath the basket with the option of either fading to the short corner or curling to the basket? This is similar to what Reggie Miller would do in his day, or Richard Hamilton would do, or even what Jeremy Lamb did for Uconn during their championship run.

This would surely be better than just having him post, where once he touches it, he is immediately doubled. Why not put him on the move and make it harder for the double team to catch him?
He would surely have a better chance of getting his shot off in these situations.

The best part about this particular curl screen is if the defense helps off the man setting the screen for Carmelo, then the chances are the man setting the screen will be wide open underneath the basket.

Although I suppose you can argue, the Knicks did find Jeffries open underneath the basket at the end of game enough of the over analysis.


  1. Thank you, Dr. Basketball, for putting it in context.
    Melo, I forgive the giant smirk on your face in those last minutes, when the ship went down!

  2. As a Dr., I am always at your service.

    And the only reason Melo might have been smirking (although that is not a smirk in the picture above) is because he now knows he can get what ever he wants against the Celtics, whenever he wants it...

    The Garden is going to be rocking Friday night!!!