Monday, February 20, 2012

Nets vs. Knicks ~ The Night LINsanity Took Over the City




The Arena at 33rd Street and 7th Avenue
that Jimmy Dolan is furiously trying to renovate ever since
the Nets started building Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

This whole LINsanity thing started when the Knicks and the Nets last met at the Garden on February Fourth.  I guess Happy Anniversary is in order.  Aside from the Knicks winning that game, that's the night Coach D'Antoni sent Jeremy Lin on the floor in a last ditch attempt to create something; anything.  The Knicks, and Coach D'Antoni, were desperate.  Jeremy Lin then proceeded to completely break down Deron Williams and damn-near broke his ankles.  And for tonight at least, it makes for a good revenge factor if you're the Nets, and perhaps we get a fun President's Day game as a result.

But since that night, Jeremy and the Knicks have been on a tear. And not just against the NBA's middle of the road teams like the Jazz; T-Wolves; Kings; and Raptors. They've beaten some of the League's elite. Add Dirk Nowitzki and the defending champions Dallas Mavericks to a list that includes Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Knicks' February fortunes came on the heels of two games to open the month, where they played Chicago and Boston down to the final buzzer, but lost.  They'd rebound the following night against New Jersey.  Only now (what's a great story without revisionist history?) that last game in MSG against the Nets gets marked as the night when the Knicks mercilessly unleashed LINsanity upon the League.

Hey man, don't get me wrong.  No one around here believes in things like pot luck.  This is a show me town.  That's why incredibly, there isn't a fan in the house who'd get caught looking this gift horse in the mouth.  Everybody seems All In with Jeremy Lin.  And why not?  Jeremy Lin is making believers of almost everybody ever since he busted up D-Will's ankles two weeks ago.  The Knicks are 7-1 since that night and the city has been LINsane ever since.  Even more remarkably, they've done this without Melo.  While Carmelo is another story, it's freakin' true.  All hail Jeremy!  And I'm the eternal pragmatist..., remember?

You watch him and think, why can't everyone do this?  He plays like coaches teach.  What he's doing is so fundamentally sound it screams Notice Me!  And now that he's got every one's attention, he's still going out there and performing with damn-near textbook execution.  Does he get that from attending Harvard?  Because he's also proving himself to be incredibly smart on the floor.

Smart and capable are only the beginning.  Now he's showing us he's going to be tough too.  What I've seen over the last four games were the opposition's first two adjustments designed specifically for Jeremy Lin.  And I've watched them both fail.  Teams tried forcing Lin to his left.  When he outplayed that plan, I then noticed teams trying make him pay the price for entering the paint.  Strike two.  He outplayed that plan also.  He just maintains his dribble and distributes well with a good awareness of where the other four bodies on the floor are.  That's not to be confused with passing well, which he does.  And this has all been possible because he's popping from the outside.  In nine short games, he's commanded his own respect because of his ability to penetrate the lane and either dish or finish, as well as take any open shot they dare him to take, and bury them in key moments.

It is what it is.  So, I don't just see a player riding a hot streak, or a wave.  Jeremy Lin is actually paving his own way through the opposition like a capable point guard can.  Even with all his turnovers, and missed shots, he's outplayed his mistakes so far, and has been nothing but money in the fourth quarter.

What now?  Just continue playing the game.


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