Life is good when you’re a New York Knick and you are winning.
And they are winning, more than nearly everyone expected. We thought we here at PBT were a little optimistic saying in our season preview they would win 38 this season. Right now, the Knicks are on pace for 44-45 wins. Their point differential is that of a 42-win team. Amar’e Stoudemire has played his way into the MVP conversation. They are currently the six seed in the East, with a comfortable six-game cushion between them and falling out of the playoffs.
And they have played comfortable the last week. Which is bad — this is not a team with the depth of talent to coast. The Knicks have lost four of the last five and coach Mike D’Antoni went through the press — the New York Post, for example — to remind his team they have earned nothing yet.
“We don’t look at standings and say, ‘We’re OK,’ ” D’Antoni said. “No, we’re not OK. I think guys have to have a more sense of urgency. Instead of a wakeup call, [it’s a] call for urgency. We played with that all year and lost it.”
“I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves,” D’Antoni said. “I think we are what we are right now. We’re trying to make the playoffs. We need to make the playoffs. Toward the end of the year, I expect us to be a very good team. The last two games we haven’t been. We blew two games at home.”
The second of those was a 129-121 loss to the Phoenix Suns where, without Ronny Turiaf in the paint (due to injury), the Knicks didn’t bother with defense.
The Knicks would have to fall pretty hard to fall out of the playoffs. But with Raymond Felton playing through a sore hand and struggling a little during this losing streak, it’s easy to see how fragile this roster is. D’Antoni is going to cajole and kick to keep them focused, to make sure they make the playoffs. Once they are in the playoffs, then everything is gravy.
Golden State has a ring, and that came with accolades about them ushering in a new era, a new style of basketball in the NBA. But if they are going to have a legacy as one of the game’s legendary teams, they need more than one ring. They need more accolades and accomplishments.
Such as starting the season with a record 16-game win streak.
But what about the all-time win streak mark of 33 (set by the 1972 Lakers)? Stephen Curry says they talk about it, as reported in the San Francisco Chronicle.
“We talk about 33,” Curry said in a conference call with international reporters. “I think I’ve probably talked about it more than anybody else on the team, just because I know about the history and just really how hard it is.
“We’ve had like two 16-game winning streaks the last two years, and those are pretty special feats. For us to have to double that output, I mean we’re going to play hard and hopefully close in on that record, but it won’t be a disappointing effort if we don’t get there. Because there are so many talented teams in this league and for us to just be playing at a high level right now, that’s what we’re worried about. And if we close in and get to 29, 30 games, we’ll talk about it a little bit more.”
Considering they are not even halfway there yet, talking about this outside the locker room seems premature (much like talking about 72 wins already). The Warriors have had some less than stellar outings of late (the Brooklyn Game, for example), and they have a seven-game road trip with a couple back-to-backs coming up. There are a lot of places to trip up.
What this shows is that the Warriors have a little vanity, they have concern for their legacy.
And I love the confidence — this team is going to be disappointed when they do eventually lose. They are on a mission this season; they have not lost their hunger. Which may be the most impressive thing about their start.
Sixers’ big man Jahlil Okafor isn’t going to face serious repercussions for getting involved in a fight outside a Boston nightclub on Wednesday. The police are not investigating, the team is not suspending him (he is playing Friday night against Houston) and the Sixers are supporting him.
But Okafor admits he should have walked away, and his actions were “dumb” and “embarrassing.” Here is the money quote (the full video interview is above):
“It was definitely dumb on my part. It’s something that I am embarrassed about, (we’re) still dealing with the league and the team. But I’m not happy about it at all.”
Of course, this has led to renewed criticism of people around the league who are not fans of GM Sam Hinkie’s pushing the “be bad to get good” boundaries to new levels. Like it or not, that system can work, and depending on how the next draft unfolds, the future of Joel Embiid, and when Dario Saric comes over, there could be some very nice young building blocks — some real franchise cornerstones — in Philly in a couple of years. The plan can work if Hinkie nails the draft.
But one criticism of their plan does ring true to me — a couple louder, veteran voices in the locker room could help the maturation process. Would it have kept Okafor from doing something stupid with a heckler in front of a club? Likely not. But it would speed up the learning process, it would instill professionalism rather than the more chaotic system now. Michael Lee summed it up well at Yahoo.
The 76ers haven’t had a player older than 25 step on the court this season…. Carl Landry is the team’s oldest player at 32 but he has yet to make his season debut, putting too much pressure on Brett Brown and his coaching staff to teach the kids what it takes to be professional.
Philadelphia hasn’t hidden its desire to lose big now to win big later, but it shouldn’t just view veterans as salary-cap holds or a means to acquire more second-round picks. The Minnesota Timberwolves finished with the league’s worst record last season but invested in expediting the development of No. 1 overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns, reigning Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins and fellow first-round pick Zach LaVine by bringing in aging vets Kevin Garnett, Tayshaun Prince and Andre Miller to help serve as examples on and off the court….
Through his one notable misstep thus far, Okafor might inspire the necessary change in Philadelphia. Having seasoned players around won’t prevent kids from making mistakes altogether, but the TMZ video should serve as a reminder that the long-term development of the 76ers might be enhanced if a chaperone or two were around to help the youngsters deal with getting their heads beat in.
BOSTON (AP) — Boston police say they do not plan to investigate an apparent nightclub scuffle involving Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor unless someone involved comes forward to say they were the victim of a crime.
Officer James Kenneally said Friday that police responded to reports of a fight outside the nightclub hours after the winless Sixers lost to the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night. But Kenneally says the participants were gone by the time officers arrived and nobody was arrested or charged.
TMZ posted cellphone video of the altercation on Thursday, showing Okafor yelling and later shoving a man. The website reports that the confrontation started when someone taunted the 76ers. Philadelphia has 16 losses and is the only team in the NBA without a win.
An agent for the No. 3 pick in the 2015 draft did not immediately return a message Friday seeking comment. The 76ers declined comment.
Philadelphia plays at Houston on Friday night.
Mike Budenholzer – to the dismay of some – avoided suspension for making contact with a referee.
Jason Kidd sure wasn’t.
Milwaukee Bucks head coach Jason Kidd has been suspended one game without pay for aggressively pursuing and confronting a game official, slapping the ball out of his hands, and not leaving the court in a timely manner upon his ejection, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.
The incident, for which Kidd was assessed a technical foul and ejected, occurred with 1:49 remaining in the fourth quarter of Milwaukee’s 129-118 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday, Nov. 25 at BMO Harris Bradley Center.
Kidd will serve his suspension tonight when the Bucks play the Orlando Magic at Amway Center.
One game is a standard suspension for bumping an official, and it’s probably what Kidd deserved (what Budenholzer deserved, too, for what it’s worth).
But slapping the ball from a ref’s hands looks so much worse than a standard bump. Kidd should feel fortunate the NBA suspended him on the merit of the action rather than perception of it.