It’s been a weird and mostly disappointing season for the New York Knicks, but at least they won their regular season series against the Brooklyn Nets, not needing Carmelo Anthony to beat a team that actually has something to play for 109-98.
The Nets showed once again why their season sweep over the Miami Heat is something of smoke and mirrors. Not that they aren’t a good team or a dangerous one on any given night, but there’s something a bit slow and sluggish about them – no explosive quality, and it’s hard winning a championship on defense alone. Playing a lot of games in a short time span is a bit hard on this team with too many inconsistent players offensively, and eventually might be their downfall before they get a chance to show they can beat the Heat or the Pacers in the playoffs too.
The Knicks had a chance to play the game a bit less seriously despite the deep disdain both sides have for each in the fourth quarter. They were leading by 16 points going into the final 12 minutes. giving a chance for some players to get more minutes than they usually would have. Tim Hardaway Jr. had a strong first half and finished with 16 points, three other players had 14 points (J.R. Smith, Amare Stoudemire and Shannon Brown) while Cole Aldrich had a great game on both ends of the floor, finishing with 13 points and 13 rebounds.
Tyson Chandler played only five minutes before Jeremy Tyler and Aldrich got his minutes total for the day, and it won’t be surprising if the Knicks rest him on the final day of the season as well Anthony is done for the year and now it’s time to cross fingers and hope he doesn’t leave. He has the option of opting out of his contract, but that might just to secure himself a slightly better deal with a bright long term future with the franchise.
The Knicks are down for $92 million in salary next season – that is if Anthony remains, while there’s no chance Amare Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani opt out of their deals. Tyson Chandler, J.R. Smith, Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert, Pablo Prigioni, Tim Hardaway, Jeremy Tyler and Shannon Brown are all signed for next season. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for improvement, and doesn’t leave many with the delusion of immediate, franchise-changing improvement.
The Nets are a weird team – smart, experienced and with a pretty deep bench. But Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are two very important pieces in the puzzle, maybe too important. Garnett is running on his last fumes as a basketball player while the rest of his teammates continue this on/off thing with their ability and effort from game to game, which is something you cannot do in the postseason. Coming back from an awful first couple of months is quite remarkable and finishing with 44 or 45 wins this season. However, this might be the ceiling for this team, and the best we’ll get from a super expensive roster.