NEW YORK KNICKS
The House That Rony Seikaly Built
Dade County, FLA.
NEW YORK KNICKS: Trailing The Atlanta Hawks By Two In The Loss Column, The HEAT Is On J.R. Smith To Help Team Win Out.
The only reason the Knicks are even knocking on the Hawks door is due to Carmelo Anthony.
With little exception, his supporting cast has been woefully inconsistent, and inefficient this season, with each player providing his own distinct dilemma or deficiency.
Make no mistake, Ray Felton's sub par play at the point has been central to this year's step backwards from being a 50+ win team last season. Also among the top factors in the Knicks overall disappointing campaign have been Tyson Chandler's lack of presence, and Iman Shumpert's regression. Isolation ball and a lack of commitment on defense prior to Phil Jackson's s arrival also share partial blame. Although further down on the list, Coach Woodson's questionable strategies, or lack there of, haven't exactly advanced his cause either. So, be sure, other reasons exist.
Arguments crediting, and advancing the contributions Jason Kidd, Rasheed Wallace, and Kurt Thomas made last year also ring hollow for me. The current short comings of the core players are what put the Knicks in this situation, not periphery role players of the past.
That said, if put under oath, I'm sure Coach Woodson would concur, that trumping all reasons, has been the enigmatic play of J.R. Smith, and his alternating work schedule. When he shows up willing to play, the results on the floor speak for themselves. When he decides to take night's off, it's been an all too noticeable, and unsightly visual.
What's become painfully obvious during the team's recent surge towards the playoffs, is that, as J.R. Smith goes, so go the Knicks. That's too bad, because had J.R. Smith invested himself into playing an entire season instead of performing in spurts, the Knicks wouldn't be in their current situation of having to scratch and claw for the 8th seed.
I'm left without a clear reason to explain J.R. Smith's precipitous fall in production from a year ago, other than to say he has money in hand, and failed to play with last year's hunger on any given night.
Melo now has a injured/bruised shoulder at the absolute worst time of the season. Applying HEAT at this point would provide minimal results. What's needed over the last five games of the regular season is an old fashioned, home grown remedy. It's called teamwork, the type Phil Jackson spoke of at his introductory presser.
The Knicks task ahead is daunting, and like it or not, starting Sunday, J.R. Smith turns into the center of the Knicks universe. Melo's cranky shoulder now places Smith in the role of having to take the HEAT, and lead the team through the next five games. After Miami, the Knicks have single games against Chicago and Brooklyn, and a pair against Atlantic Division leading Toronto.
The thing is, J.R.Smith has the talent necessary to determine whether if the Knicks play beyond April 16th. But, the real questions are, does he possess the leadership, will he embrace the responsibility, and will he welcome the challenge of having to propel his team to victory over the next handful games of must win basketball?
Will he ultimately seize the moment?