The New York Knicks have long been known as the most paranoid of all the 30 NBA teams, infamously sitting in on meetings between the press and players, ostracizing the team’s longtime beat writers, and even taping Carmelo Anthony’s entire workday under the guise of “protecting” him. Now, apparently, the team has taken its freak show to Twitter.
Knick legend Bernard King came through with some accurate and rock solid criticism of Anthony on Monday, discussing on his Twitter feed the various ways that Anthony could snap out of his isolation malaise and score efficiently on the Indiana Pacers in spite of his left shoulder injury. The Knicks, who employ King as an analyst for the MSG Network (to, you know, analyze the Knicks whether they win or lose), reportedly did not like King’s tweets in the wake of the team’s Game 1 loss to the Pacers, and King’s account has been shut down.
King, in an “explanation” that nobody believes nor was asking for, contends that an unnamed friend took over his account and started tweeting. Started tweeting All-Star level analysis while pretending to be Bernard King. Of course.
Here, via the New York Daily News, are the tweets:
“If Carmelo’s shoulder is hurting that bad — work the paint — drive and dish — become a facilitator — it’s a TEAM game,”
“I was always taught — Take High Percentage shots — don’t force it — don’t be a one man show — don’t over dribble — ball movement.”
“The Knicks MUST move the ball more and take the open shots — must stop heaving up bad shots because the shot clock is running out.”
One can understand why the Knicks are displeased. These microblogging missives are the best possible analysis, yet coming at the worst possible time. Anthony has played against three of the best defenses of the modern era in his four playoff series as a Knick – the Celtics, LeBron James-led Heat, and league-leading Pacers have all had a turn against ‘Melo since 2011 – and this is part of the reason the Knicks All-Star has shot just 39 percent in the playoffs as a member of the Knicks.
The way he’s gone about his business recently, though, has to worry Knick fans.
It’s true that a basic pick and roll, against Indiana’s expertly sagging defense, isn’t the easiest way towards getting Anthony back up to his regular season efficiency. Anthony is barely trying that, though, going with an isolation-heavy attack that nearly forced New York into the embarrassment of allowing for a seventh game against Boston in the previous round. Indiana’s ability to shut Anthony down and grab a win shouldn’t be a surprise, many of us picked the Pacers to win this series even before watching New York flail away against Boston, but Anthony still has to find away to break through somehow.
Because Indiana has designs on adding to the deficit, and not just pleasing themselves by wresting the home court advantage. From the New York Post:
“It’s something we’re very excited about having the opportunity to do,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “And we feel we need to do it. We don’t feel like we’re happy getting a split. Momentum changes with every game in the series. We have to come out for Game 2 like it’s Game 7.”
So going home even? Not so appealing.
“We’re trying to avoid that,” David West said. “We just have to go into [Game 2] thinking we have no advantage in the series. We’re just starting the series. It’s going to be another tough environment to get a W in but ... if we take care of the basketball, rebound and defend, we’ll find ourselves in good shape.”
Knicks Sixth Man Award-winner J.R. Smith has not been in good shape since elbowing Celtics guard Jason Terry late in New York’s Game 3 win over Boston. That elbow resulted in a suspension, and J.R. has shot just 12-42 (28 percent) in the three games since. Some Knick followers have wondered if Smith, free from massive regular season travel between games, may be once again aligning himself too closely with NYC nightlife. Mostly because of his reputation, but also because of this tweet that Jay-Z’s cushy 40/40 Club sent out early Sunday morning, just 15 hours before the tip-off of Game 1:
Cam Newton, JR Smith, CC Sabathia, CJ Watson, Andre Blatche and Joe Johnson in the building!The lineup is serious tonight NY!
— The 40/40 Club (@The4040) May 5, 2013
Smith, via the New York Post, responded with this:
In response, Smith tweeted to those who were worried that his poor game was related to his 40/40 Club appearance: “First an formost I wasn’t clubbing before the game so y’all can kill that. Don’t try an find reasons when I miss shots! #Ho.’’
(Honestly, I’m more concerned with Joe Johnson, Andray Blatche, and C.J. Watson deciding to club it up following the team’s draining Game 7 loss against Chicago. Confirms quite a bit.)
Amar’e Stoudemire could be returning just in time to complicate things further. The former All-Star, who has missed significant time over the last two seasons due to back and knee injuries, is shaping up for a Game 3 return to action when the Knicks take their act to Indiana on Saturday. Newsday details Stoudemire’s reaction to his all-out practice from Monday:
"I have no pain running, jumping, cutting, slashing," Stoudemire said. "I felt explosive. The only thing now is getting my wind back up and seeing how it feels [Tuesday]."
Coach Mike Woodson had said Stoudemire wouldn't have any contact until Thursday, but he was put to the test earlier.
Tuesday will be a recovery day for Stoudemire. He might play three-on-three Wednesday and participate in practice Thursday and / or Friday to make sure he can play Saturday.
"The only way I wouldn't is if I don't recover well from [this] and if I don't recover well from the following practice," he said. "If there's any setback from that, then that would be difficult to deal with. But hopefully everything goes well."
Sensing Stoudemire’s impending return, and expected to move down the power forward depth chart a slot is veteran forward Kenyon Martin. Smartly, and with a game to go before Stoudemire’s hoped-for return, Martin discussed a Melo/Martin forward plan with the media in the wake of Game 1, throwing back to his time spent running the floor with Carmelo in Denver.
Kenyon Martin, a reserve big man for the Knicks, made a thinly veiled pitch to rework the lineup, presumably with him at power forward and Anthony at small forward. Coach Mike Woodson used that alignment sparingly Sunday.
“Melo has to wrestle and tussle with David West,” Martin said. “I don’t think he should have to do that from the beginning of the game. We got size over there we can use to our advantage.”
Anthony tried to play down the issue, noting that the Knicks won twice and lost twice against the Pacers this season while playing with this lineup.
“I don’t want to panic and overanalyze that situation,” he said. But he acknowledged that his foul trouble “put a little dent in the game plan.”
For whatever reason, the pairing did pay off for New York. Some late-game shenanigans may have played a part in altering the number, but the Knicks outscored the Pacers by eight when Martin and Carmelo shared the court in Game 1, and Martin has the cutting and shooting ability to play outside of the paint in ways that would give Anthony room to work. It’s no panacea, and two years’ worth of stats detail Anthony’s superior scoring acumen and overall Knick improvement when he plays the big forward spot, but the Pacers defense has a way of changing trends.
Bernard King is right, when he points out that this is a team game. He’s also correct in pointing out that Carmelo Anthony has to find a way to act the role of an efficiently scoring, potentially ugly, shot-maker. Anthony has to get into that paint that King turnaround’ed so effortlessly in, and get to the line. This Knick offense has its wonderful attributes, from its guile from Smith and contributions from Raymond Felton to its veteran guidance and all-around movement, but this team really does center on its marquee star.
Since the 1950s, two versions of the Madison Square Garden haven’t had it any other way. Facing a major deficit against a formidable Indiana Pacers team in Game 2, Melo better be ready to shift his focus. Here’s hoping he followed Bernard King on Twitter.