Archive for the ‘NBA’ Category

Nick: The Knicks, struggling all season long just to eke out a simple win, have now somehow ripped off a five straight wins without either the injured Carmelo Anthony or the grieving Amar’e Stoudemire. And by somehow, I mean the Knicks are now the proud owners of a five game Linning streak. In those five wins, newly crowned starting point guard and New York darLINg Jeremy Lin is averaging 26.8 points, 8.0 assists, and 4.2 rebounds per game, with 2.0 steals to boot.

Mike: Here’s a surprise: Lin was named the Eastern Conference’s player of the week.

Nick: Break out the hyperbole: With those kind of numbers, he’s been like a poor man’s LeBron, only shorter, less muscular, and Linfinitely more Asian.

Mike: Hyperbole 2.0: Jeremy Lin is as good as Steve Nash. Therefore, when Amar’e returns, it’ll be just like the good old days. OK, maybe not. I agree with Jay Caspian King, the comparison between Lin and Nash has more to do with D’Antoni than with Lin.

Nick: Now Amar’e is set to return in Tuesday night’s game against the lowly Toronto Raptors, with Melo soon to follow this weekend. Lin will now have to share the spotlight and the basketball court with his higher-paid counterparts in the superstar department.

Do you think this will derail the newfound momentum the Knicks have built after five one-man show-stopping Lins? Or will the return of Amar’e and Melo only serve to Linhance the point guard’s playmaking skills at the head of Mike D’Antoni’s offense? (more…)

Nick: For the first time since they reeled off four in a row to go to 6-4, the Knicks can lay claim to a “winning streak,” grabbing two straight at home against the New Jersey Nets and Utah Jazz. I’m pretty sure that’s why they had a parade through Manhattan on Tuesday.

The linchpin (foreshadowing!) to this modest (I’m sure Mike will choose some hyperbolic adjective) run of W’s has been surprising: not Amar’e (out Monday for personal reasons), not Melo (a strained groin limited him to six minutes), not Baron Davis (he’s the short fat guy with a neck beard earning $2.5 million to literally “suit” up – shirt, tie, and everything).

No, the key has been the one, the only….Jeremy Lin!

Mike: I have to correct you, Davis is also earning many more millions from the Cav’s to sit on another team’s bench. But go on.

Nick: That’s right, Harvard’s finest has been the high scorer for the Knicks in each of these two wins (or shall I say Lins?). He poured in 25 points against the Nets in 36 (!) minutes (Linutes!) off the bench, then followed up that performance by exploding for a career high 28 points in his first ever start and 45 (!!!) more Linutes of playing time. Those 53 points represent almost half of all the points the second-year player had scored in 38 previous games. And this comes after getting sent down to the D-League for a chunk of time this season.

So WTF gives? Do I really have to take Lin seriously? Should Harvard graduates even be allowed to play professional sports (yeah, I’m talking to you, Ryan Pickspatrick*)?

*Trademark Dave Jacoby

Mike: While I’m thrilled that Lin is dropping buckets on opponents (even ones with winning records), I’m more excited that he’s playing to the strengths of the D’Antoni system. He attacks the basket off the pick-and-roll. To boot, he’s not an inept shooter, so he actually draws defenders and opens up shots for big guys down low and even Steve Novak was knocking down three’s against the Jazz.

I’ll give the Harvard boy one undeniable thing, though: he put the Knicks on his shoulders and led them to two needed wins. But when Melo and Amar’e return, I don’t know if they’ll allow him to keep the Knicks on his shoulders. They like to be heroes themselves. That being said, Lin could work well with them if their ball-hogging ways can make up for Lin’s tendency to turn over the ball (28%).

The question that remains for Mike D’Antoni now is how to make use of Lin when Amar’e and Melo return. Lin has made D’Antoni’s offense into… well… an offense. But he’s done that with mostly bench players. Does that mean that Lin should lead the bench squad only? Will he have the same effectiveness with the full starting line-up?

Nick: Well, don’t worry, Melo’s out for the next month or two with that strained groin. But when that decision eventually has to be made, I don’t think he should only lead the bench squad. Maybe you can get away with it because he won’t have he ball in his hands nearly as much once your primary ball-handlers ball-stoppers return, so you stick him with the second unit to be the sparkplug off the bench. But D’Antoni’s system has always relied on a point guard to be successful, and clearly the point forward experiment with Melo has failed completely. Give the reins to Lin and see what he can do, I say.

But that then begs the question: Can you really count on Lin to become the understudy who takes over Baron Davis’s starring role as Salvation-Bearing Point Guard?

Mike: He’s brought back some hope to New Yorkers. But there’s a reason he’s been to the D-League and had only 32 total points before pretty much tripling his scoring output in the span of two games. He still hasn’t taken Davis’ place as Knickerbocker Christ.

Not yet, anyway. But if he does, this city will undoubtedly devolve into pure Linsanity.


Knicks at Celtics: Round 2, Fight!

Posted: February 3, 2012 by mzyohai in Celtics, Knicks, NBA, Opinion

Mike: Wouldn’t you know it? The sandwich game of the Knicks’ back-to-back-to-back this year is in Boston. After facing off with the Bulls in MSG, the Knicks ride for Boston and game two of their season series with the Celtics. Last time, I got the best Christmas present a Jew could hope for; this time, I might be getting an early Valentine’s Day present.

Rondo is hurt. Melo has already indicated that he might not play all three games of the series. And questions still swirl around Baron Davis’ return.

The Celtics have been pretty low-scoring all season, but haven’t suffered because they’re opponents are scoring even less. What should we expect this Friday? (more…)

Mike: The Celtics must be one of the luckiest teams in the league right now. They lose their All-Star point guard and sole claim to youth, Rajon Rondo, then immediately rip off a 4-game win-streak, including one of the largest comeback wins in history against Orlando.

Nick: Thanks for jinxing the C’s, Mike. Right after you wrote this they fell to the Cleveland “We’re trying to get excited about Kyrie Irving replacing LeBron” Cavaliers.

Mike: After I completely jinxed the Jets against the Broncos and later their entire season, I think I learned a thing or two about the power of the jinx, and I’ve managed to master of the art of applying it judiciously.

But Rondo might be out until the All-Star Break. Yikes.

Rondo’s replacement, who is also making moves for a spot on the Crazy-Awesome Athlete Name Team, E’Twaun Moore, is providing some help, but the brunt of the play-making is falling on Paul Pierce’s shoulders.

Nick: I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Pierce seems to have no trouble assuming such a role, unlike Mr. Melo. Granted Anthony has been hurt, but 1 point, 4 assists last week? Please.

Mike: I’m glad you’re so supportive of Pierce considering he couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn when he first came back from injury. I’m not giving Pierce credit just yet. He’s making up for past sins as far as I’m concerned.

Nick: Last I checked, his latest box scores weren’t cancelled out or penalized because of a slow start. In the parlance of childhood bedtime stories, the tortoise beats the hare, my friend.

Mike: Either way, Rondo’s injury derailed the Celtics’ season plan of resting the oldies so their legs would be ready for a playoff run. Instead of starting slow and steady like the tortoise, Doc Rivers has already had to play the veteran Big Three at a breakneck, hare-like pace.

Do the Celtics need to make a move here, or would you rather see them ride it out until the All-Star break? (more…)

They Call Me Melo Yellow

Posted: January 25, 2012 by mzyohai in Knicks, NBA, Opinion
Tags: , ,

Nick: For all his tongue-showing, finger-wagging, three-dropping, trade-forcing ways, Carmelo Anthony still appears to have a conscience that makes him feel remorseful, contemplative, and doubtful. What?

In his first meeting against his former team (and apparently the first time he’s spoken to former coach George Karl) since last season’s blockbuster trade, Anthony came up short as the Knicks lost in double overtime to the Denver Nuggets. With his team’s recent failure on his mind (not to mention Danilo Gallinari going off for 37 points to help the Nuggets to the third best record in the NBA since the trade), Melo engaged in some serious self-doubt in front of reporters, questioning whether or not he was taking too many shots on the floor.

To quote the man himself, “Maybe I need to not take so many shots. I don’t know. There’s just a bunch of stuff that goes through my mind. I’m just [trying to figure] out ways to make other guys better. Should I pass it more?”

So Mr. Knick (oh the irony! You know, since I’m Nick? You’re right, let’s move on). Is Anthony actually taking too many shots (he jacked up 30 in the loss to the Nuggets), or is Melo just missing too many of them (he only sank 10)? (more…)

Christmas Day is almost upon us, which means I get to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus soon. I almost wish I were as Jewish as you for this Christmas, though, because I think I would much rather celebrate a full day of NBA basketball instead. (Although I must say, I do appreciate the early gift of Kobe’s wrist injury.)

On this holiest of the days (by which I mean the start of the NBA season and the arrival of more sports into our lives), the Celtics, Knicks, Heat, Bulls, and Magic, the five teams with the highest expectations going into this season, all play in the name of their Lord and Savior (I say that as a joke, but it’s probably true). In honor of the unexpected gift of a 66 game basketball season, Mike and I present you with a preview of the East (well, the teams that matter anyway, and clearly the West doesn’t count since we’re Knicks and Celtics fans, respectively).

We’ll take you through the highest hopes and the darkest nightmares of each of the top-five teams in the East, starting with the heavy favorites and heavily hated Miami Heat. (more…)

Mike: LeBron takes his talents to South Beach, assembles a dream team in Miami, predicts a championship dynasty, but fails.

After an NFL lockout, the Philadelphia Eagles “win” the off-season by amassing so much free-agent talent, then crown themselves the “dream team,” and fail win. After a loss to the Chicago Bears at home, the Eagles have, barring a miracle, lost all hope of a playoff berth.

Nick: I think I know where you’re going with this and I love the comparison, if only because I despise both teams.

Mike: Me too, especially since a number of the “dream” players were courted by New York teams.

Nick: Can’t say I’m sorry the Jets didn’t land Nnamdi Asomugha to pair with Darrelle Revis. The thought gives me the shivers.

For whatever my opinion is worth, I think it’s more than mere coincidence that both teams have struggled despite acquiring so much raw talent. I’m a huge proponent of believing in the whole “team” concept; I’ve been brainwashed as a middle school athlete, as a Patriots fan who fell under the spell of Bill Belichick’s charm, and (to a lesser extent) as a Celtics fan who saw Ubuntu produce the 2008 NBA title. I just love watching teams that are able to play off one another seamlessly with strings of passes or have incredible team chemistry with crazy handshakes and the like (obviously the 2004 Red Sox are my favorite example ever – praise that team and their pre-game whiskey shots).

Mike: But my question is a little more specific… although I love basking in their failures. Beyond their nearly identically high expectations and rejection of NYC, there’s something else that connects these two epic fails: fourth quarter collapses (and a lack of awesome handshakes). Now, playoff games and playoff performance are clearly different from the regular season, but since the Eagles are not going to make it that far… Let’s look at the NBA Championship: (more…)