The New York Knicks are now preparing for the National Basketball Association playoffs as the regular schedule recently closed. With a playoff spot set and at press time the first round opponent not as yet determined, the situation is another matter. The question remains is who do the Knicks prepare for?
“We want to win,” Knicks President of Basketball Operations Donnie Walsh recently said, prior to the clinching game. We set from day one just to get into the playoffs.”
And now they are there.
Walsh is accustomed to playoff basketball at Madison Square Garden, for he was in the front office of the Indiana Pacers for many years starting in 1986. Now he is looking toward the first round of action to begin this weekend.
Walsh was indeed pleased with the crowd turnout during the season as for most of the home games, the Garden w as sold out. “We had great support all year,” he went on.
Now the players must perform better on the court than they did during the regular season in the run and gun offense that Coach Mike D’Antoni employs. Players, such as Carmelo Anthony, certainly enjoy this type of offense.
Anthony heads the many new faces on the roster-that also includes Chauncey Billups who came east from Denver along with the high scorer at mid-season. Players and management are feeling confident. At times they run up the score, but at the same time they lay back on the defensive end.
“We are trying to do the best that we can in the playoffs,” continued D’Antoni. “We are looking toward the future.”
In addition, D’Antoni rested some of the players once they clinched a spot in preparation for the playoffs.
Some of the players have been injured, and this list included Amar’e Stodemire, who suffered from a sprained left ankle.
Still, Anthony heads the offensive attack. When he is on the court, his teammates look for him moré so to do the necessary scoring. Billups and Toney Douglas are the backcourt men who get the ball into the scorers who usually are up frojnt..
“We can be trouble for anybody (any team),” the players agreed.
While the Knicks improved from last year to the present status of have a winning streak just before playoff time toward the end of the regular season, the Nets also played better ball than they did last year but under a new head coach in Avery Johnson. They also had losing streaks and ended the season rather on a disappointing note. They are getting ready to move into their new facility in Brooklyn in the fall of 2012.
In getting ready for the move, they are trying to attract local flavor to the franchise. The Nets in February signed guard Sundiata Gaines to a free agent contract and then inked him through next season. However, the native of Queens fractured his right hip in late March and has since been out of action, at press time.
Johnson has been having trouble in putting a winning combination on the court, but because of various circumstances including injuries they have been having. And once again they failed to make the playoffs. But they still made strides with their overall record from last year.
This year’s team seemed to be more talented than last year’s one. The Nets kept trying to add new players by signing them, or in trades, evaluating them, and preparing them for the future. They continue to be high on center Brook Lopez, along with guards Anthony Morrow and Jordan Farmar.
New players, including Kris Humphries and Deron Williams, along with Morrow all impressed at times but still kept them sidelined for part of the season with assorted injuries. Thus they prevented the players to turn in a winning record.
Down the stretch drive, the Nets seemed didn’t perform well at all, putting together losses by some big scores.
“We had a couple of breakdowns,” Coach Johnson said, after the last Knicks-Nets game at their temporary home Prudential Arena, in Newark, New Jersey. “We have to play smarter….”
During the off season, the players will try to improve on their weaknesses, and try to turn things around via trades, signing of free agents, and selecting players in the NBA draft. They hope to rebound next year to a point that they contend for a playoff spot.
But for now, the Knicks are in the playoffs while the Nets went home watching the games on television.