So, another game in this Knicks-Heat series and it seems to be over. It’s not a surprise the Knicks are losing this series. In the last two seasons, the Knicks had too many personnel changes. Carmelo Anthony came. Chauncey Billups went. Tyson Chandler was brought in. Jeremy Lin came out of nowhere. And back there for the time being. J.R. Smith is a Knicks. Iman Shumpert became an amazing perimeter defender. And got hurt. Amar’e Stoudemire took himself out of the Playoffs. For the second year in a row.
But, in the end, the Heat are just more talented. They have been playing with each other for two season now. And have 2 of the top 5 players in the NBA.
As for this series, I saw something that worried me, as a basketball fan. Now, I like coach Mike Woodson. He did a great job with defensively and he found a system that could work with the players he has. But, I haven’t seen him adapt to Miami’s defensive schemes against Melo.
The Heat are doing something very simple, yet very smart. They are fronting Melo so he doesn’t get the ball in his comfort spots, the elbow. Still, the Knicks are trying to force feed him the ball there. When they don’t get him the ball, Melo will move to the perimeter and receive it there. Not good. That’s exactly what Miami wants.
There a simple and a simpler way to counter this. The simpler way, is to have Melo start on the weak side, set a screen for him (screencap below), allowing him to establish a position deep in the post. The Knicks did this once or twice. Not enough.
Another way would be:
Start the ball on Melo’s corner. With (Amar’e in this screencaps) low on the weak side.
Swing the ball from the corner to the top of the key or opposite side (not Melo’s corner). Have the other post players go to the top of the key to get a pass from the wing players.
When Amar’e gets the ball (the blue dot is where he should be), Melo rolls to the basket. And easy opportunity for a backdoor pass.
That would force the Heat to adjust. From that, a couple of things may happen. Amar’e – or another player that was filling in for Stoudemire fighting a fire extinguisher – would have a open shot. That is a nice way to make Melo/Amar’e work together.
If the ball gets to Melo on a backdoor pass, the defender in the corner would have to help. Novak, who’s having a hard time finding an open shot, since he can’t run nor create his shots, would find room to shoot.
Of course, coming up with those plays is Woodson’s job. You can’t blame the players for not doing it.
Now, why not talk about the future?
I find it weird that Stoudemire is getting a free pass when he took himself out of the Playoffs for the second year in a row. I understand he lost his brother, must be hurting still. Even so, he must remember that this is his job.
Meanwhile, Melo is out there, diving for loose balls, grabbing rebounds, trying to find open teammates, even though they are missing every shot. And the fans are getting on him for not beating a better team? With 3 stars? I don’t get that.
In ways, Melo reminds me of Shaq. People saying he can’t do it. Can’t lead a team to a title. Can’t focus. Can’t. Can’t. Can’t. People used to say the same about Shaq. And Shaq used to play his heart out, but, as always, when his teams fell short, it was all Shaq’s fault.
All Melo needs is a coach that knows how to get him to work hard. Woodson seem to be doing that. If I had a say, I would go after Phil Jackson, failing that, keep Woodson. Let him work with the team for a while.
I would also not resign Landry Fields. How can an Ivy League guy have such a low basketball IQ? He can’t make the right decision. Can’t hit a shot to save his life. No use on bringing him back. Let him go, or resign him for the minimum.
I would also try to trade Stoudemire. Too many mistakes, not enough heart, defense or rebounds. Alas, poor Yorick, his salary is too big. Don’t expect any teams to take him.
So far, Melo, Tyson Chandler and Iman Shumpert are the key to New York’s future. Keep them, surround them with hard working roleplayers, a younger Point Guard (love you Baron, but you’re just not working, sorry) and watch the wins pile up.