From the sublime to the ridiculous ……….
If there is one thing we know about both the NFL and NBA , it is that “defense wins championships”. Being able to do so on a consistent basis , best aids a team in achieving that ultimate of goal of winning a title , be it in any team sport. As the NBA season still remains in its infancy , barely a month into the season which began on the 29th October , with a number of games on the opening night . Over the weekend schedule within the league, there were a slew of very interesting games, of which a contest between the defending Western Conference champions , in the San Antonio Spurs against the New York Knicks , a team filled high-priced stars , that has simply under-achieved over the past two seasons . It should be noted that last season , a great deal more was expected of this Mike Woodson coached team . This season , the pretext already being suggested will be that the Knicks along with the Brooklyn Nets are likely to be the biggest threat to the Miami Heat the defending NBA champions , as they set on the defense of their title and in seeking to create their own piece of history in winning three consecutive NBA titles .
New York Knicks’ owner James Dolan’s desire is to bring a title back to the media capital of the world. With the team , housed in perhaps the most famous sports’ venue in the world, Madison Square Garden in New York City , New York, it seems only fitting that his wish ought to be granted. That being said, when your team has been assembled from ill-fitting parts , you can only expect there to be a number of hiccups along the way both on and off the field of play. In recent years, we had the tenure of Isiah Thomas as head coach and then in an executive position of the venerable franchise . Missed opportunities , overspending on mediocre talent and to date , it would appear that not a single lesson has been learned by anyone within the front office of the organization . Yet continually , the Knicks’ fans and mass media within the New York City metropolitan area continue to hype the franchise , as if they have been an omnipresent force within the NBA over the past decade or more .
As I indicated earlier, the New York Knicks and San Antonio Spurs met in a game over the weekend . In front of a national television audience, as well as a global audience of millions via the NBA Network and their international broadcast partners and those in attendance at Madison Square Garden. New York and San Antonio would put on a colorful display of attacking basketball. Unfortunately, for the Knicks’ fans , what they were also allowed to witness, was a team without the slightest propensity to play an iota of defense, as New York fell to the Spurs in a thirty-one point blowout loss to their opponents, 120-89 on Sunday afternoon.
If the New York Knicks are to have any hope of being within a remote chance of even challenging within the Eastern Conference and the Miami Heat, in particular . Then this team will have to a great deal more than have Carmelo Anthony be the lone threat offensively , and with their being no one of note actually being prepared to assume the load defensively to aid the ball-club. Anthony, is the only player on the roster averaging twenty points or more per game this season . With a record of 2-4 , the New York Knicks find themselves at the bottom of the Atlantic Division , a division that is currently led by the Philadelphia 76ers (4-3) . From a conference standpoint, the team now stands at the bottom of the Eastern Conference , bearing the same record as the Brooklyn Nets and Washington Wizards (2-4) . From a league wide standpoint , only the Denver Nuggets (1-4) , Sacramento Kings (1-5) and win-less Utah Jazz (0-7) , possess a worse record .
Clearly , all is not right with the New York Knicks, and with players such as JR Smith , Andrea Bargnani , Raymond Felton , Metta World Peace , Amare Stoudemire , Tyson Chandler and Iman Shumpert barely contributing anything of note during the Knicks’ two victories this season . It is extremely difficult to see how anyone can actually take this team seriously based on their current play. GM Steve Mills who was recently promoted to his current position may feel the need to make some drastic changes to the makeup of this roster at the trade deadline or try to engineer a buyout of the remainder of his contract . His biggest wish may well be to move the bloated salary of Amare’ Stoudemire off the books and as far away from the franchise as is humanly possible, as it has been years since he has contributed anything of note to this Knicks’ franchise. New York’s next game will be on Wednesday , when they are the guests of the Atlanta Hawks at the Philips Arena , in Atlanta, Georgia ,.
If the New York Knicks are said to be having an indifferent season , alongside their fellow in city and conference rivals , the Brooklyn Nets . Of which the best thing I can say , is if the front office led by Billy King feels that an aging roster , and rookie head coach in Jason Kidd , whose playing career is unquestioned , but his coaching acumen is already in doubt , is the best way to proceed forward. Then clearly, the mindset of the organization is misplaced along with an outrageously bloated team payroll of $102.6 million . Bear in mind, also, the organization will be obligated to pay the luxury tax of $63.5 million for this season alone , having exceeded the league’s soft salary cap of $58.455 million.
While, I believe that Kevin Garnett , Paul Pierce and Jason Terry can contribute to the Nets’ ambitions this season. From an observer’s standpoint, I just cannot see the team going deep into the playoffs, because simply put , the minutes needed from the entire roster to mount a serious challenge to the obvious contenders within the Eastern Conference will not be forthcoming . Kidd’s coaching inexperience is already evidence of that and it is plain to see , that there has been little productive advice being proffered up by anyone on his coaching staff . The defense of the Nets, also seems to be a work in progress , with the losses inexplicably coming in the most inopportune of ways. A barely functional Deron Williams has yet to have a real breakout game this season and it has been left to Brook Lopez to provide the greater part of the Nets’ offensive productivity this early in the season. While Williams is coming off , off-season surgery , without his productivity , it is unlikely that the Brooklyn Nets will be able to compete at a higher degree of efficiency and competitiveness , in spite of Jason Terry’s presence on the roster as the best alternative at the point guard position . As Deron Williams goes , then so do the Brooklyn Nets. So, it will be of the utmost urgency, that his game is back at a peak level .
Coming off a narrow five-point loss to the Indiana Pacers’ , the Nets will now look to gain some momentum from that defeat , when they meet the Sacramento Kings at the Sleep Train Arena , in Sacramento, California , on Wednesday evening . At this juncture just about any positive traction that can be gained must be seen as an added plus, even if it can’t be viewed as a moral victory .
Should the Miami Heat fans be worried at this juncture that the team has a 4-3 record , though they do lead the Southeast Division by a mere game over the Atlanta Hawks ? Coming off a 66-16 record in 2012 , given the Heat’s currently play , they would be projected to finish with a win total of 48-34. While I do not believe yet to be a cause for concern , I do think that the players might still be reveling in last season’s triumph over the San Antonio Spurs and for the moment are content to be judged on the credentials of being the two-time defending NBA champions ! The three defeats as early as they have come this season , I would have thought that would have shaken Miami of its complacency and simply galvanized the team into playing a great deal better than they have been . There can be no excuses made for a franchise seeking to make NBA history , alongside perhaps the best player to have graced the NBA since his entry into the league as the first overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers . That year, was a draft resplendent with talent not since seen , in subsequent years, by a very wide margin. . LeBron James’ legacy we know, has been written and cemented in stone , but the player I now believe wants to be viewed as the ” best ever” ! Will he be able to accomplish that ? Well, only time will tell, and also dictate the fate of the player and this team.
Saturday’s loss by the Miami Heat to the Boston Celtics , by a one-point margin 111-110 , emphasized what I now have always felt, was a weakness with the Heat. They have never been considered a “physical” or a “very good rebounding “ team. What we are uniquely aware of concerning Miami, is that they are quite capable shifting gears, as and when they believe there is a reason to do so . Were it not for the inexperience in the Indiana Pacers’ roster last season in the Eastern Conference Finals , it remains my firm belief that the outcome of the series would have been entirely different ! The physicality and play of Roy Hibbert , David West , George Hill , Lance Stephenson and Tyler Hansborough ….. exposed the flaws of the Miami Heat , who are and will always remain something of a finesse team , while LeBron James , Dwyane Wade , Chris Bosh , Ray Allen remain the fulcrum and pivotal to the play of the team overall. Beyond that, you can simply draw your own conclusions .
Hoping to push their record to 5-3 , the Heat will play host to the Milwaukee Bucks at the American Airlines Arena , in Miami , Florida on Tuesday evening . For the Bucks , they will certainly be hoping that they can make the proposed contest a little less lopsided than they have been in the past , with Erik Spoelstra’s players having the better of their visitors in their most recent match-ups .
In spite of the lofty expectations each season of the self-absorbed Los Angeles Lakers’ (3-5) fans and the glitterati of A List Hollywood celebrities who make it their place to be seen at the Staples Center when the venerable Lakers are on the court . I am not so sure that this will be the season, that is likely to be an advantageous a turning point for the franchise in terms of its history . Kobe Bryant’s career is on the wane and no matter how one tries to spin it , this is not a very good Los Angeles Lakers’ team , in terms of its makeup. Beyond Pau Gasol , an aging Steve Nash , Steve Blake and Nick Young and Bryant , himself . There is absolutely nothing to suggest that the Lakers are capable of hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy this season , much less be considered to good enough gain a playoff berth within the Western Conference . Kobe Bryant may well have felt chided, that the Lakers were favored to finish no better than twelfth within the conference at the end of this season. Yet in reality, those assessing the team , were doing so, in its merits and how they what they believe are the strengths and weaknesses of the roster outright . With Bryant still sidelined as he seeks to recuperate from injury, there is no doubt without him , the Lakers are a shell of themselves both from an offensive and defensive standpoint.
The departure of Dwight Howard should not be seen as that great of a loss for the Los Angeles Lakers. The center simply could not adjust to being in the spotlight , much less be asked to lead or be seen as the future leader of the franchise upon Bryant’s departure from the Lakers, upon his undoubted retirement. Howard simply took less money , to play ‘second fiddle ‘ to James Harden as a member of the Houston Rockets , while looking to escape a season of underachievement in Los Angeles in 2012. As to the Lakers’ impending future, that will be predicated upon Kobe Bryant’s return, as there appears to be no set timetable for his much-anticipated participation in a regular season game . It is pretty safe to suggest , his return and in a Lakers’ uniform will be about as welcomed as the franchise’s last taste of postseason success in 2010, as the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics in the 2010 NBA Finals .
The Lakers’ next regular season test will at home to the New Orleans Pelicans in a game between two teams looking to reinvent themselves s and gain some traction in terms of their respective seasons . For Lakers’ head coach, Mike D’Antoni and his coaching staff , this is likely a season , that will prove to be the toughest of his professional career. If as anticipated, the franchise fails to make the postseason , then it will certainly be back to the drawing board for GM Mitch Kupcak and team owner , Jim Buss . A future without Kobe Bryant , is not that far off in the offing and with the acknowledgement by Carmelo Anthony that he will remain a life-long New York Knicks’ player , even if in choosing to exercise the option to test the free agency market by opting out of the . final year of his contract . The player knows his best chance of a title remains where he is now domiciled , rather than with a franchise that will be in a total state of transition.
With the NBA season still in its infancy , what if anything has proven to be the biggest surprise or the most disappointing in either the terms of the play or stories emanating from around the league ?
Picture and slideshow details below .
(1) Carmelo Anthony (7) of the New York Knicks walks into the locker room during half time against the San Antonio Spurs with his teammates Raymond Felton (2) , J.R. Smith (8) and Amar’e Stoudemire (1) at Madison Square Garden on November 10, 2013 in New York City. The Spurs went on to defeat the Knicks 120-89 . Getty Images North America / Maddie Meyer …..
(2) J.R. Smith (8) of the New York Knicks drives against Manu Ginobili (20) of the San Antonio Spurs at Madison Square Garden on November 10, 2013 in New York City. The Spurs defeat the Knicks 120-89 . Getty Images / Maddie Meyer …..
(3) Tiago Splitter (22) of the San Antonio Spurs drives past Amar’e Stoudemire (1) of the New York Knicks during the second half at Madison Square Garden on November 10, 2013 in New York City. The Spurs defeat the Knicks 120-89. Getty Images North America / Maddie Meyer ….
(4) Paul Pierce (34) of the Brooklyn Nets, Kevin Garnett (2) and Deron Williams (8) walk down-court during the fourth quarter against the Indiana Pacers at Barclays Center on November 9, 2013 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Pacers would defeat the Nets 96-91 . Getty Images/ Paul Hughes …..
(5) Head coach of the Brooklyn Nets Jason Kidd disputes a call with referee Mark Ayotte (56) at Barclays Center on November 9, 2013 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Pacers defeat the Nets 96-91. Getty Images / Maddie Meyer ……
(6) LeBron James (6) of the Miami Heat attempts to pass the ball as Phil Pressey (26) of the Boston Celtics and Jared Sullinger (7) of the Boston Celtics look on at American Airlines Arena on November 9, 2013 in Miami, Florida. Getty Images / Chris Trotman ….
(7) Jeff Green 8 of the Boston Celtics watches his three-point shot at the buzzer as Chris Bosh (1) of the Miami Heat and LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat look on at American Airlines Arena on November 9, 2013 in Miami, Florida. The Boston Celtics defeated the Miami Heat 111-110 . Getty Images / Chris Trotman ….
(8) Kevin Love (42) of the Minnesota Timberwolves shoots over Pau Gasol (16) of the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on November 10, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. The Timberwolves won 113-90 with the Timberwolves’ Ricky Rubio torching the Lakers’ lackluster defense with an exhilarating all-round offensive display . Getty Images / Peter Harris ….
(8) Los Angeles Lakers’ GM Mitch Kupchak , foreground, is seen here alongside head coach Mike D`Antoni as the two host questions from the convened press at the Lakers’ training facility, the Toyota Center in El Segundo , California,. Another lackluster start to the season , somewhat similar to last year, shows the team to be struggling offensively and defensively , with their being no outright answers as to the team’s continued struggles . With no apparent timetable set for Kobe Bryant’s return , it would appear that the Lakers’ struggles are likely to continue. AP Photo / Matt Slocum …
(9) Kobe Bryant, the active career points’ leader in the NBA, a five-time NBA championship winner , Finals’ MVP and League MVP , is now in the latter stages of his storied career , but he is looking to make one last assault on winning a sixth NBA championship ring , all with the Los Angeles Lakers . With the player still sidelined by injury and recuperating as best possible , Bryant hopes to make return to the team by the end of November . AP Photo / Peter Mills ……
Goin’ old school
Sylk E Fyne , feat’g Chill ………. “Romeo & Juliet ”