The theory going into this series was that the Knicks would win a game or two simply because Carmelo Anthony and maybe J.R. Smith or Steve Novak would just get hot.
But the Heat’s defense this series has doused any spark before it could catch fire. The result is the Heat have cruised to a 3-0 series lead and look likely to close it out in a sweep at Madison Square Garden Sunday.
The Knicks are suffering plenty of indignities — they now have lost an NBA record 13 straight playoff games. Three losses to the Heat, all by double digits. And it hasn’t been that close. Knicks fans are making Amare Stoudemire the scapegoat for a playoff collapse but the Knicks problems are in a roster built of names and stars with little thought to chemistry and fit.
The Heat had some of those problems last year, but they have overcome them. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have figured out how to compliment each other, Erik Spoelstra came up with a system that fits what the Heat want to do.
New York has no idea how to make Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony work together. Mike D’Antoni couldn’t do get them to do it; Mike Woodson has made this ‘Melo’s team and left Stoudemire on the periphery. It may be moot today as Stoudemire is a game-time decision due to the left hand he smashed into a fire extinguisher case in frustration…
Actually, it’s moot either way.
The only question left in this series is if Sunday can be the Knicks can have that one insanely hot shooting day. Probably not, the Heat have proven they can take ‘Melo out of his comfort zone.
Then New York can start to focus on how to make this thing actually work.
Eric Bledsoe reportedly requested a trade from the Suns before the season then tweeted yesterday:
After sending home Bledsoe today, Suns general manager Ryan McDonough explained his rationale:
The hair salon! What a wonderful excuse.
Is it true? I’m not going to call Bledsoe a liar. It might be.
It’s also probably true that Bledsoe isn’t long for Phoenix.
In a shocking twist, the Suns firing Earl Watson did not end the dysfunction in Phoenix.
Chris Haynes of ESPN:
John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7:
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
That is a first-rate tweet by Bledsoe. It’s great that he’s having fun with the wild situation, because the rest of us sure are amused peering in.
This was always going to be a long season in Phoenix, but things got out of hand in a hurry. The 0-3 Suns have been outscored by 92 – the worst three-game start in NBA history by 16 points. Now, comes the fallout.
At 27, Bledsoe was getting to be a little too old for a rebuild centered on Devin Booker, Josh Jackson, Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender and T.J. Warren. The Suns could have dealt Bledsoe in the offseason. Now, they’re negotiating from a position of weakness.
Bledsoe is a good starting point guard when healthy. He’s earning a reasonable $14.5 million this season and due $15 million in the final year of his contract next season. There should be suitors, and Phoenix can gain long-term assets while stepping up its tank.
But this sure seems like a crisis-control move more than anything else.
Knicks president Steve Mills started his second tenure talking about rebuilding and listed Willy Hernangomez as a core piece.
But Hernangomez, coming off an All-Rookie first-team season, barely played in New York’s season-opening loss to the Thunder– drawing scrutiny.
Then, he didn’t play at all in a loss to the Pistons – eliciting a strong reaction from Hernangomez himself.
Hernangomez, via Fred Kerber of the New York Post:
“The same. I’m still mad,” Hernangomez said. “I cannot help the team win if I’m sitting on the bench. Two games in a row. It’s tough. I have to wait my moment. I cannot say nothing more.”
The Knicks are moving in different directions. Management is talking about building for the future. Coach Jeff Hornacek, who was hired by previous president Phil Jackson, is trying to win now.
There’s a fine line between developing Hernangomez through playing time and making him earn his minutes. Enes Kanter and Kyle O'Quinn might be better right now.
But being marginally better this season won’t get the Knicks anywhere meaningful except lower in the lottery. On the other hand, even on rebuilding teams, winning is most important to a coach’s job security. Earl Watson implemented the Suns’ tanking scheme, and look where that got him.
Hornacek is backed into a corner, and now one of the team’s most important young players is publicly expressing his displeasure. It’s the latest troubling sign in a locker room already suspicious of Hornacek.
Suns guard Eric Bledsoe tweeted yesterday:
In light of Phoenix’s 0-3 start and Earl Watson getting fired yesterday, that sure looks like a trade request. Still, there’s risk in making assumptions about vague tweets.
John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7:
Why wouldn’t Bledsoe want out? The 27-year-old is in his prime and stuck on a young team that would rather tank than play him.
It’ll be interesting to see how Bledsoe explains the tweet. He previously paid lip service to his situation in Phoenix, but it appears he’s ready to open up. On the other hand, public trade requests typically draw fines from the NBA.