A team built around the scoring abilities of Carmelo Anthony is destined to fail, and it has nothing to do with the selfishness of J.R. Smith or the fact that Amare Stoudemire played a total of 33 minutes during the series. James Dolan wanted a superstar to build around, but chose the wrong one, and all the coaching prowess of Mike Woodson isn’t going to matter when the New York Knicks play in the most predictable and easy to counter way possible.
It wasn’t easy beating the Knicks in game 6, because Anthony finally figured out how to score on Paul George or anyone else, but it wasn’t enough. He scored 39 points on better than 50% from the field, but his defense was still atrocious, and he got blocked on the biggest play of the game by Roy Hibbert, sparking the Pacers run that closed out the game and the series with a 106-99 win.
The Knicks can’t win with J.R. Smith shooting 4-15 while facing elimination and there isn’t a single time Knicks players are thinking about that extra pass thing they actually used during the early stages of the season, when Anthony was heralded as the MVP because of his changed attitude and work ethic. Anthony didn’t change. The Knicks simply had Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton playing good basketball; team basketball, while Tyson Chandler held the defense.
But months have passed, and Chandler suddenly looks old, especially next to Roy Hibbert who crushed him during the series. Smith? The sixth man of the year had a strong finish to the regular season, but he left nothing for the playoffs. He finished with 28.9% from the field while averaging 15 field goal attempts per game in the series. He probably won’t be with the Knicks next season, and he found the perfect way to say goodbye.
Jason Kidd was the sad story of the series, as a future hall of fame player, who some people raised their eyebrows when the Knicks signed this season in hoping their geriatric park will be able to manage and make Anthony look like an elite player who can also make his team do better than it should, that is bowing out in the worst way possible. He hasn’t scored a single point in 10 consecutive games, and anything but declaring retirement will be quite weird.
The Knicks stayed in the game thanks to Anthony and an excellent shooting performance from Iman Shumpert (19 points, 5-6 from beyond the arc), but sticking with Smith through think and thin hurt the Knicks more than they would like to admit. Chris Copeland and Pablo Prigioni might not have his “getting hot” ability, but they don’t cause the kind of damage he does to his own team when he’s colder than ice.
The Knicks are stuck once again, after going for the “superteam” project. Anthony can’t be the number one guy on a team that’s thinking about the NBA title. It’s also impossible, at the moment, to start bringing a high quality group of players with the salary situation (Anthony, Stoudemire and Chandler in particular) being the way it is. The Knicks did take a little step this season, but it’s hard seeing them going any further. Not with their philosophy on how a team should be built, and who should be the one leading it.