Knicks Off to Embarrassing Start

Wayne Root: Knicks Off to Embarrassing Start

The New York Knicks enter tonight's nationally televised game against the Miami Heat in a state of embarrassment. Despite playing a relatively easy schedule (this is their first game against Miami or Chicago, and they've missed many of the Western powers), New York is 7-11 straight up, and just 4-14 against the Las Vegas spread.

Before the season started, Knicks fans were dreaming of a potential Eastern Conference championship with Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire joined by defensive stalwart Tyson Chandler. I talked about that right here on these pages. Now, the team is just hoping they can limp into the playoffs in a conference were one or two losing teams could qualify.

What went wrong? A few things:

  • Offensive Flow: Having two great scorers isn't always a positive thing because there's only one ball! The Knicks currently rank 24th in points-per-possession because they have too many games where Anthony and Stoudemire hold onto the ball then force up a guarded shot. Anthony has been a bigger culprit than Stoudemire. But, both want their points, and neither seems motivated to pass the ball around so the team as a whole can get off a good shot. The team is also 26th in turnover rate because the ballhandlers are trying to force things in traffic when they shouldn't. Ironically, their best recent game came when Anthony only took seven shots because he was banged up (a blowout win over lowly Charlotte).

  • Depth: The Knicks traded away a lot of depth to get Anthony last year. They figured they'd be able to restock the pond with role players. Unfortunately, they haven't done a very good job in that regard. Defenses don't have to worry about anyone but Anthony and Stoudemire! That makes it easy to defend, which you see in the offensive stats.

  • Pace: Head coach Mike Dantoni prefers to run the ball. New York currently rates as the second fastest team in the NBA in pace factor. That's a dumb strategy when you don't have much depth! It just makes the few guys who can really play very tired.

  • Intensity vs. Good Teams: I mentioned that New York has played a pretty easy schedule so far. The Eastern Conference has some godawful teams this year. If you throw out all of New York games against the bottom rung NBA're left with a 2-9 straight up record vs. everyone else. The Knicks just aren't battling hard for 48 minutes against anyone who knows what they're doing. That's probably most disappointing of all to ticket holders. There was such enthusiasm late last season. That's all disappeared.

Anthony will miss Friday Night's game in Miami because of his injuries. I'm very interested to see if that actually helps the Knicks play as a team. If you can't get fired up for a national TV game against the Heat, there's no hope for you! If New York plays flat tonight, you can pretty much write them off as a relevant team this year. Maybe they can get hot as a 7th or 8th seed in the playoffs. The pieces just aren't there right now in terms of championship caliber basketball.

But, if the Knicks do finally bring some fire, we may see a team at least capable of covering spreads in the next few weeks because they've realized their backs are against the wall.

I may or may not be releasing this game to clients tonight. There's a huge 13-game schedule in the NBA, and I only release my very best opinions. Plus, we have some college possibilities too from my former neck of the woods with the Ivy League and the Metro-Atlantic Conference in action. I can tell you I've been in close contact with friends back East to make sure we start off this very important wagering weekend in fine fashion.

Game day releases go up a few hours before first tip here at this website every day. Make a few clicks and have your credit card handy. You can also sign up for longer term packages online or in my handicapping office. Call 1-877-766-8946 for details. Be sure to ask how you can include my Super Bowl selections with any basketball package.

You regulars know I grew up in New York. There's a strong New York theme to Friday Night's action with New York-Miami on TV and the college slate. I'm a true S.O.B. (son of a butcher), when it comes to carving up the Vegas board! That means it's time for YOU to go to W.A.R. alongside WAYNE ALLYN ROOT!


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