AC’S Spotlight Episode 30-Remembering Anthony Mason & The 90’s Knicks

New York Knicks v Golden State Warriors

I had to do a podcast to talk about the late Anthony Mason, who passed away a week ago Saturday. He exemplified the personality of those beloved Knicks teams in the 1990’s. To do that Anthony Donahue of the Knicks Blog Radio and the SNY Knicks podcast joined me to trade some 90’s stories and remember Anthony Mason.  You check out the podcast here.

 

 

 

 

AC’S Spotlight Episode 29 Parts I and II w/ Rafael Canton and Chris Herring

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The Trade Deadline is near and my podcast is back as both Rafael Canton and Chris Herring both joined me in this two part podcast. Part I is here and Part II is here. Thanks to both gentlemen for joining me to discuss Carmelo’s surgery and being out for the season, the Goran Dragic situation in Phoenix, and more around the league as we get close to the deadline.

AC’S Spotlight Episode 27- Talking NBA W/ Rafael Canton

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As we inch closer and closer to the NBA All Star Break, Rafael Canton of NBA Trades stops by to talk some NBA with AC as they go through some of the playoff races, the all star reserves, Klay Thompson’s performance and the legitimacy of Atlanta and Golden State’s claim to being best team in the NBA. Check it out here.

 

Analyzing the 3-Way For 8th In The Western Conference

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As we’re officially just a bit past the halfway mark and headed straight to the all star break, there are plenty of fun storylines in the NBA. The Warriors and the Hawks have provided for fantastic basketball with their respective scintillating starts. Teams tanking has been a theme for comedy, and the Western Conference in general has been a nightly war that has provided some intriguing matchups. We have a 3 team race for the 8th spot and what seemingly is a date with the Golden State Warriors. The 3 candidates are the Thunder, Suns, and Pelicans.

Currently as of today the Suns are leading the Pelicans by 1 1/2 games and OKC by 2 1/2. Each have their strong points and each have their issues, let me try to handicap them.

Phoenix Suns (26-20)- The Suns have 36 games left, 25 vs the West and 24 against plus .500 teams. Included in that are 3 games against the Warriors while the Thunder are finished with them. The Suns are in a stretch where they’ve lost 2 in a row to the Rockets and Clippers and have the Wizards, Bulls, Warriors, Grizzlies, and Blazers next on the schedule. After a 14-14 start to the season, a 12 of 18 stretch has elevated them to this spot.  Biggest issue for the Suns is their defense which is 28th in the league allowing a whopping 105 points per game. They’re prolific offensively as they’re 3rd in the league but if they’re going to make the playoffs that will have to change and they’ll need to be more consistent. The Suns will probably need to improve their home record (currently 13-9) and that will give them a chance here. The schedule is tough, granted though I think the Suns will hang in until the very end of the season.

New Orleans Pelicans (24-21)- The Pellies are interesting from this standpoint, they’ve only played 20 home games and are 15-5 in them and they have Anthony Davis who to me is a top 3-4 MVP candidate. I happened to see them live without AD against the Knicks, and let’s just say they missed him dearly. All of the numbers with Davis and without Davis tell you that he needs to be on the floor. (A minus 9.7 net rating without and a +5.3 rating with) The Pelicans are only playing 18 games against +.500 teams and 24 vs. the West. One would have to think that’s a huge advantage. We’d also like to think that Anthony Davis would get the ball more, let’s see if his teammates help him with that. The Pelicans are probably the weakest of the three teams, but they’ve won their last 4 and are playing better. The schedule is an advantage as well.

Oklahoma City Thunder (23-22)- The Thunder have been talked about all season as the big question of whether they would make the postseason after the injuries to KD and Russell Westbrook. As they’ve come back they’ve gotten over .500 but still have some issues to look at. They’ve only played 20 home games as well so they have that in their pocket. Amongst the issues, are still trying to find the right lineups exactly. Also, Reggie Jackson’s fluctuation of playing time plus what’s hanging over him as far as his status with the team is an issue. Dion Waiters has been inefficient (what else is new?) and their starting lineup still has problems starting off most games against good teams. With that being said, they still have the most dangerous 2 man wrecking crew in basketball and that gives them a leg up. Big issue schedule wise? 21 above plus .500 teams and 25 against the West. I still think the Thunder make it, but it isn’t a lock like we all thought earlier this season.

 

Random NBA Thoughts:

LaMarcus Aldridge foregoing surgery to continue to play through the Blazers schedule is admirable. You just hope that he doesn’t reinjure himself and torpedo their season.

The Clippers have started to play better and they’ve raised their status in the West. I still can’t trust their 6 player squad.

Lionel Hollins and the Nets were a bad fit. The Nets roster is just bad, and not getting better anytime soon.

The 3 point shootout almost might be more entertaining than the All-Star Game.

Can’t wait for Atlanta-Golden State on Feb 6 so we can overreact to the winner and loser.

Chicago is not a contender until further notice, but I love the Cavs right now.

AC’S Spotlight Episode 26-NBA & Knicks Talk W/ Chris Herring

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As The New York Knicks have struggled their way to a 4-11 record, Chris Herring of the Wall Street Journal rolls through the podcast to discuss whether the team can find some common ground and improve going forward. How serious is Carmelo Anthony’s injury? What’s up with Fisher’s lineup experimenting? Those are some of the questions we tackle, plus thoughts on Tyson Chandler’s comments on his tenure with the Knicks plus going around the league. As always Chris Herring is a distinguished guest and an awesome chat. Enjoy this pod, you can listen here or on Itunes.

AC’S Spotlight Episode 25-What’s Wrong With The Knicks?

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Coming into Friday’s NBA action the Knicks have lost 6 in a row to drop to 2-7 on the still young NBA season. There are plenty of reasons for the struggles, and I’ll talk about that and more with Ian Begley of ESPN NY. Rafael Canton joins me later on the podcast to talk Knicks and the NBA as well. As always check the podcast on Itunes or here.

How Good Are The Raptors? And Around The NBA

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After the Raptors lost a very tough Game 7 to the Nets last season I thought to myself, “Hmm, this team has a chance to be a lot better next season.” It was a very mundane thought but a real one. Once Toronto resigned Kyle Lowry it was hard not to be sold on the team improving. They’re a young athletic team that’s very good on offense, (Going into tonight against Orlando 2nd in scoring efficiency at 109.4 points per 100 possessions) and has been very capable on defense. (7th in defensive efficiency at 99 points per 100 possessions) Yes, the sample size might be a bit meh and when they played Miami they lost but there’s no reason from what I see that the 3rd best team in the Eastern Conference could reside in Canada.

You can’t help but love their backcourt in Derozan and Lowry. Though Derozan take a few too many bad shots for my liking, he’s improved a ton and so far as even seen an uptick in FG% and Free Throw attempts thus far. He’s becoming an incredibly difficult cover and rising as one of the better two guards in the sport. Lowry is shooting 48% from the field thus far and continues to be very steady running the team as they’ve handled their business to a 6-1 record. They’re the favorite in the Atlantic Division to me. They probably should get out of the 1st round of the playoffs this season. Yes they’ve played 7 games against ok competition, but they’re legitimately good.

Not only it helps to be young, but it also helps to bring back nearly the same team from last season from a chemistry and continuity standpoint. You can see that on the court confidence wise and that’s why the Raptors more often than not will beat bad teams and hang with the good ones. They have an agile frontline with the improving Valanciunas and Johnson and you’re talking about young guys here still trying to find their peak efficiency and effectiveness.  I want to continue to see more though as the schedule gets tougher. I’m looking forward to their matchup against the Bulls in a national TV tilt on Thursday night and 3 matchups within a month they get against LeBron and the Cavs. We’ll get to learn a lot more about this Raptors team, but so far so good. Toronto’s built a capable competitive franchise, looking forward to watching them grow.

Around The League

I’d love to see the Sacramento Kings stay at .500 for awhile, they’re entertaining as hell. When you have Rudy Gay and Demarcus Cousins balling as they have so far, you want to see more out of the Kings in growing and continuing to get better. It’s way too early but I’d love to see them battling for a playoff spot.

Is San Antonio resting guys still a thing that we all complain about? They’ve been doing it forever and while I understand the business standpoint that the NBA/Fans take on it, Pop can’t worry about that. He’s trying to win long term, and I can’t help but respect that it still is about winning even if we miss some good regular season matchups.

Would it surprise me that much if Oklahoma City held it’s ground decently enough to make a push when KD and RW get back? No, because there is actual talent on that team that we just haven’t actually seen play. As I said earlier in my predictions piece, this is a blessing in disguise because if Brooks ever gets or finds something in Perry Jones, Jeremy Lamb, and Steven Adams plus Reggie Jackson? Man listen, Oklahoma City could win the West because they have the most destructive and explosive duo in the sport. Don’t be shocked.

I still worry a ton about Derrick Rose, and while I get what he’s trying to say as far as long term with sitting out games I just wonder what his career will look like when it’s said and done for him. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

The Cavs are going to be fine, when they get it going they’ll be a force that the East won’t be ready for on a nightly basis. With that being said, Miami looks pretty damn good so far. Deng has fit very well, Bosh looks like he has a chip on his shoulder, and Wade looks rejuvenated. It’s a long season though, so we’ll see how it all unfolds….

Learning To Temper Expectations With The Knicks

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Since I’ve been watching sports and been around sports living in New York, I’ve heard the phrase, “You can’t rebuild in New York.” The fans aren’t patient, the expectations are so high that you wonder what’s realistic and what’s not. I’m looking at this New York Knicks team at 2-6 after last night’s tough 91-85 loss to the Atlanta Hawks and thinking that this is exactly what and how this is going to be for the time being. It’s going to be a struggle for a number of reasons but mainly because this team isn’t what it’s going to look like when they get good again hopefully.

The losses are frustrating yes, and when the players talk about effort and lackthereof it would normally worry me if that’s what I was really seeing. The effort is there, and they’re playing hard and actually trying to learn a new system and play team ball which is what all Knicks fans wanted after the past couple of seasons of Iso-Melo and generally poor decisions on offense. If only it was so simple as correcting the offensive issues. The triangle offense which has been the major selling point of Phil Jackson and this rebuild isn’t the problem to me. As highlighted here by the Wall Street Journal’s Chris Herring, the defense has continued to be terrible. The statistics don’t lie with them being 28th in defensive efficiency, and the eye test sometimes is worse. You see a simple pick and roll and the defense breaks down incredibly quickly. Anytime I see Amare Stoudemire in a pick and roll I shudder. I don’t want Bargs to come back. J.R. Smith could go too, and that’s really the bottom line. This roster isn’t what it’s going to be a season from now. So what I actually expect?

I expect them to play hard every night. I expect the Knicks to start building good team oriented habits which we’ve seen thus far. They’re passing the ball. While they’re not succeeding on defense they’re at least trying on defense especially if you read Tim Hardaway Jr’s comments via ESPN NY. Carmelo will start to shoot the ball better, and I do believe the Knicks will improve; just not to the degree that most fans want, which is making the playoffs in a better Eastern Conference than a season ago. Is it wasting another season of Melo’s prime? Yeah, is it another year where we have to wait to see IF they provide a better product on the basketball court? Yeah, but if you believe in what a rebuild truly is than there has to be some patience exhibited here. The Knicks have a first round pick and free agency to take a shot again at next offseason. What this season is about is beginning to break it down further and remold eventually. The Tyson Chandler/Raymond Felton trade was just the beginning, and there’s going to be more tough times than good. Can you rebuild in New York? Yes I think so, just like anything you do it takes time and hard work. I know Knicks fans want immediate gratification, but it doesn’t work that way. LeBron isn’t dropping in the Knicks fans laps anytime soon. Temper your enthusiasm and pull up a chair, we’ll be here awhile.