Updated: Feb 29
The Sunday afternoon matinee against the Boston Celtics was somewhat of a surprise and somewhat the same old story.
Kevin Knox got the start after his first DNPCD with Marcus Morris out with a neck injury. Posting an 11p/5r stat line in 22 minutes his defense was still suspect but slightly improved. I would imagine that Fizdale sees this as him playing his way out of the dog house and will remain getting consistent minutes off the bench. Motivation is clearly a factor for the laidback sophomore. There is a very noticeable fire that is missing from his game, never more evident that seeing that very growth within Frank Ntilikina.
Frank exited with some lower back soreness and did not return but will likely not miss any additional time, mostly because he can't. Dennis Smith is the only legitimate option off the bench with Wayne Ellington seeing some extended minutes given the early exit for Ntilikina.
DSJ looks like he is starting to get his swagger back. He pushed the ball, made some great cuts and and drives to the hoop with some impressive athletic finishes we know he is capable of. Hopefully this is a sign of good things to come for him to close out the year and start the new decade off on the right foot.
What is the Knicks REAL Problem here?...
Some say the coaching, some say the youth isn't developed correctly, James Dolan and ownership is to blame and some believe that nobody on this team is particularly good. While all of those might be true to some degree, I say that there are a multitude of other issues at hand here.
The last 6 games have been tough, mostly because there is not one glaring issue with this team. Each game it is something different:
The shots aren't falling
too many turnovers
most notably MISSED FREE THROWS!
I understand that things will go wrong and a game will slip away here and there but these Knicks are in the game and blowing leads. It's almost like the game is 12 minutes too long.
5,7,2,28,6,9 Those are the point differentials at the end of the last 6 games and all of those are losses and EVERYTHING that I mentioned above is the cause for one loss or another. This is not specifically a coaching problem, (or maybe it is, I don't know anymore) this is an execution problem. You can see it in the way they play as the 4th quarter goes on as if the "here we go again" mentality kicks in and everyone shuts down.
I touched on this briefly in one of my last posts about not knowing how to win. With one of the worst starts in franchise history at our feet, it has never been more evident that there is no Winning Culture within the walls of Madison Square Garden. It doesn't matter where you went to college, how far you got in the tournament or how well you've done with other teams, The Knicks do not know how to win, not only the games but in Free Agency and the Draft as well.
RJ is the first glimmer of hope I have seen come out of the draft since I *maybe* Tim Hardaway Jr. and even that is a stretch. With another lottery pick likely coming this summer I can only hope the culture changes with some excitement around LaMelo, Cole or the other RJ that might come our way.