Knicks get smacked around in New York press after Game 1 “effort”

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“Stinko de ‘Melo”

That play on Cinco de Mayo was the headline on the back of the New York Post on Monday morning after the Indiana Pacers beat the Knicks handily in Game 1. In Madison Square Garden. Anthony fell back on the effort card.

“You take out the X’s and O’s, they flat-out played harder than we did,’’ Anthony said. “They outplayed us and outworked us. Nothing else needs to be said about that.’’

“Big Trouble”

That was the New York Daily News back page headline, getting to the heart of the matter for New York — the Pacers size and length, particularly Roy Hibbert defending the rim, is a real problem for the Knicks because it is not going away. “Knicks have no answer for Indy’s plus-sized lineup,” the Daily News adds.

The Knicks are already considering lineup changes to deal with the issue. New York has had success with small ball this season — Carmelo Anthony as a four playing on the wing more — because they had Tyson Chandler covering them in the paint. But David West bruised Anthony for 20 points while ‘Melo shot 10-of-28.

So New York is considering starting Raymond Felton at the one, Iman Shumpert at the two, Anthony the three, Kenyon Martin at the four and Tyson Chandler at the five spot. Pablo Prigioni would come off the bench. That possible new five-man lineup didn’t play a minute together in Game 1, nor did it play a minute together as a group all season long (according to NBA.com Knicks lineup data).

But the Knicks have to do something, particularly on the defensive end. Much like last series it’s not going to be easy to score on the Pacers — this was statistically the best defensive team in the NBA last season. They do it without a fancy system, they just have long athletes who play hard and contest everything. New York worked hard to get Anthony switched onto the lesser defender in West all game but he still struggled because West can play some defense, too.

The Knicks need a lineup that can both score and slow the Pacers, who got a balanced attack out of a variety of different looks. Which is a lot harder to defend, so it makes sense Woodson is looking at size.

He has to do something, because if the Pacers win another game on the road Tuesday night the hits the Knicks took from the New York tabloids on Monday will seem like a friendly pat on the back.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens said early September tests will show if Thomas ready for camp

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Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.

Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.

Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”

The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.

Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.

Allen Iverson predicts LeBron James will win MVP

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LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.

Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?

Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.

LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.

It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.

Report: Other small-market teams championing Pacers’ tampering allegation against Lakers

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The NBA, at the Pacers’ request, is investigating whether the Lakers tampered by making impressible contact with Paul George.

Bob Kravitz of WTHR

In fact, there’s word that other small- and mid-market team officials have reached out to the Pacers and told them, “Good for you. Fight the good fight.”

Small-market teams whine too much about the disadvantages they face, but tampering isn’t really a market-size issue. Remember, under Mitch Kupchak, the Lakers were known as the only team that didn’t tamper.

The Lakers have advantages because George is from the area, and Los Angeles offers immense marketability. That’d be true whether or not they contacted George or his agent before he officially became a free agent.

I understand the desire to take down the big, bad Lakers – especially now that they appear poised to become truly big and bad again. But it’s hard to find a team that can cast a stone at them from anywhere other than a glass house.