The Knicks are 8-1 to start the season and it isn’t a fluke — this is a team that plays legitimately good defense and with Carmelo Anthony at the four (and Raymond Felton playing smartly at the point).
But there remains a big question looming about this team — what happens when Amare Stoudemire returns?
If you start Anthony at the four and move ‘Melo back to the three, are the Knicks going to look a lot like last season’s offensively challenged Knicks that were destined for a first round loss. The ones with Stoudemire looking lost and ‘Melo jacking long, contested twos.
Coach Mike Woodson isn’t worried — while the pair struggled together in Mike D’Antoni’s system they were 8-2 together for Woodson. Here is what he told Newsday (hat tip to SLAM).
“I can’t think about what happened before I took over. As a coach, I feel good about both of them playing together on the floor at the same time. That’s not going to change.”
There been talk — and I think smart talk — about bringing Stoudemire off the bench, but it doesn’t sound like Woodson is thinking that way long term. When asked more directly Woodson pretty much dodged the question.
“I’m going to address that when I get to that point,” Woodson said. “Right now, I’m just taking it a day at a time and working the guys we have in uniform as we speak.”
He can dodge it for now. But when Stoudemire returns from his October knee surgery at some point next month he is going to have to deal with it.
And the answer to that question of how the two stars play together, will determine the rest of the Knicks season.
Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.
Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.
In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.