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Props Slaps
 4 years ago '04        #9741
Born_Loser|M 96 heat pts96
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daz mi GOAT rapper
 4 years ago '04        #9742
Born_Loser|M 96 heat pts96
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Johnette Howard

The long, tortured, oft-cited but allegedly misunderstood playoff history of Carmelo Anthony has a new twist this season. He's gone and done it now. He's robbed his most ardent supporters of the biggest stick they've always used to beat back the criticism that Anthony isn't a winning player. His team is supposed to win, for a change. And if he thought there was hell to pay before, just wait.

Anthony clinched his first NBA scoring title Wednesday. The New York Knicks won their first Atlantic Division title since 1994. They are the second seed in the East. They closed the season with a stretch that included 15 wins in 16 games thanks to their novel policy of adding players who haven't been playing for months or even years (Kenyon Martin? Make way for Quentin Richardson!) when their other novel approach of amassing the league's biggest collection of old players actually worked.

Or at least it worked well enough to win 54 games and put Anthony in the now-or-never predicament he finds himself in. This team may have to be rebuilt around the edges next season too.

The Knicks have to beat the Boston Celtics in their first-round playoff series that starts Saturday at the Garden, and then whomever they would meet in the second round, to say this season was an unqualified success. Or else Anthony, more than anyone, will find himself rotating on a spit. Again. For everything he's not or never done. Nobody wants to hear these kinds of blow-by-blow defenses anymore.
Melo's Place

Next to Stephon Marbury, it's hard to remember a recent NBA player who has been spanked for his lack of playoff success the way Anthony has. He is endlessly reminded that he has been to the playoffs nine times before and gotten past the first round once. A few weeks ago, Forbes magazine named him the NBA's Most Overpaid Player, using a formula similar to the Wins Above Replacement stat that's popular now in baseball. Earlier this week, another stat floated out showing he remains the Losingest Man in NBA Playoff History (for the last 20 years, anyway), with a 17-37 career record. None of the other members of the top 10 is anything approaching an All-Star player.

Yet when asked Sunday -- after the Knicks clinched home-court advantage 'til the Eastern Conference finals -- if he feels any pressure, Anthony insisted, "No."

We'll see if he plays that way.

The Knicks have won one playoff game in 11 seasons. Boston is playing for a cause now, after the bombings Monday at the Boston Marathon. The Knicks are 1-11 in their last 12 games there. If the Knicks flop, Anthony is likely to be treated even more harshly than he was two seasons ago when the Knicks were swept by the Celts. Anthony piled up terrific stats in those first two games but missed a last-second shot at the end of Game 1 and decided to pass to a wide-open Jared Jeffries at the end of Game 2 with the Knicks trailing by one -- and Jeffries balked at taking a layup and turned the ball over.

The collision of pro- and anti-Melo arguments afterward was typically overheated even though Anthony had 42 points, 17 rebounds and 6 a.ssists. He's not a winner. How could he pass up that last shot and trust Jeffries? He made the right basketball play out of a triple-team, and he gets ripped for that too?

It didn't help that the Celts rubbed it in. "It was interesting, because we had to wonder: When we went at him, was he going to give the ball up?" Ray Allen told Yahoo! Sports after the game.

"The way he was scoring, you'd figure he would've shot the ball there," Paul Pierce added.

The backbiting will never stop until Anthony takes a team deep into the playoffs.

These Knicks have accomplished a lot this season. Mike Woodson's ability to keep the team together through its many injuries has been remarkable. But they're still chased by questions. They're still banged up. They rely a lot on 3-point shooting, which isn't supposed to be as sustainable come playoff time. The Bulls' ability to go 4-0 against them this season has led to whispers that Tom Thibodeau -- an ex-Celts a.ssistant after he worked for the Knicks -- has given the rest of the league a blueprint to beat the Knicks. It basically boils down to defending the 3-point line and letting Anthony shoot his fool head off if he likes. Make the rest of the Knicks beat you.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers, Thibodeau's former boss, has said he'll rotate three or four defenders on Anthony because he's so good at getting opponents into foul trouble. Don't be surprised if he's banged around a lot, just to see if he loses his temper like he did against Kevin Garnett on Jan. 7 at the Garden.

Anthony and the Knicks have to get to the conference finals for this season to seem fulfilling.

He is a long way from when he looked at how he had orchestrated his way out of Denver to the Knicks and said during the 2011 All-Star weekend, "I take off my cap to myself."

Anthony's teams have won four division titles in his 10 seasons. They have lost to the eventual NBA champs in the postseason four times. He is riding high in New York with three ex-Nuggets -- J.R. Smith, Kenyon Martin and Marcus Camby -- who were broken up as a team because they hadn't gotten enough done and their contracts were coming up. Now they're reunited and a lot older.

But better? Able to help Anthony finally buck some nagging history? We'll see.
 4 years ago '04        #9743
Born_Loser|M 96 heat pts96
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Berman

It starts with Boston and the goal is to end it with an Eastern Conference Finals upset of Miami en route to breaking a 40-year championship drought.

The Knicks dip their toe into the playoff waters tomorrow as the Celtics invade the Garden at 3 p.m. for Game 1. Mike Woodson’s elderly club is either going to drown amid more of the injuries that haunted them all season and in the Knicks’ past two first-round playoff knockouts. Or they are primed for a deep, magical run if they find the Fountain of Youth as they run all the way through South Beach.

Everyone is picking the Heat to defend their crown.

“They should pick the Heat,’’ Tyson Chandler said. “They’re defending champions and they should get that respect. But that’s not what we believe. We haven’t believed in that throughout the year.’’

Despite the ankle sprain to starting guard Pablo Prigioni that likely puts him out for Game 1, the Knicks are healing. Chandler was all smiles with a neck free of pain, Kenyon Martin (sprained ankle) is ready for his return and even center Marcus Camby (plantar fasciitis) went through practice and will suit up tomorrow.

Carmelo Anthony, the league’s scoring champion, has been a picture of health since getting his knee drained in March.

“I feel great, my body feels great, we feel great, we’re ready to rock,” Anthony said. “I feel like the team that we have in our hands right now, we have a shot to do something special.”

Woodson saluted his club for withstanding injuries to win the second seed and home court through the first two rounds.

“I’m fortunate to have this team,’’ Woodson said. “I say that because we had so many injuries and despite the injuries, because guys were committed, we still overcame a lot of things. That’s the sign of a good team.’’

A team whose goal is to at least make it to Miami to face the defending-champion Heat.

“We’re not thinking about Miami right now,” Anthony said. “Yeah, we’ll let Milwaukee [Miami’s first-round opponent] have to deal with that problem. We’ve got a big task on our hands, which is the Celtics. There’s no way we should be thinking about Miami at this point.”

The Knicks will be favored to beat the Celtics, who are without Knick-killer Rajon Rondo. The Celtics clung to the seventh seed, but have championship experience, two future Hall of Famers in Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett and a physical defensive mindset.

“Playoff basketball is physical and add to it the teams don’t like each other, that’s better. It’s what you live for,’’ Chandler said.

The Celtics eliminated the Knicks two years ago in a four-game sweep — one etched in Anthony’s mind. They broke down in that series, with starting point guard Chauncey Billups ruining his knee late in Game 1 and Amar’e Stoudemire throwing out his back during Game 2 warmups. The Knicks fell apart physically versus Miami last year in a 4-1 KO.

They chase their first playoff series win since 2000.

“This is a different feel,’’ said Chandler, who said his neck feels as good as it did early this season. “This is a better team than last year. Last year we were a.ssembled late in a lockout season. We had to learn one another. I had to learn to play with Amar’e and Melo and they hadn’t played together a lot. Now going through a great year and guys we have, it’s a confidence booster.’’

In extending the injury bug, Prigioni is probably done until at least Game 2 after rolling his ankle in the regular-season finale and leaving the arena, according to a source, on crutches. Woodson is leaning toward starting rookie Chris Copeland, who almost didn’t make the team. That’s how resourceful the squad has been — setting the NBA record for most 3-pointers made and leading the league in fewest turnovers.

“It’s been a roller coaster, but we maintained and held in there as a team,’’ Woodson said. “We put ourselves in the best position possible, winning the division, having the second seed. That’s the best we could do this season.’’
 4 years ago '04        #9744
Born_Loser|M 96 heat pts96
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Berman

No Pablo? No problemo.

The Knicks are confident they will withstand the ankle sprain to Argentine point guard Pablo Prigioni, whose insertion into the starting lineup coincided with the club’s recent 13-game winning streak.

Prigioni, who left the Garden on crutches, according to a source, after spraining his ankle on a drive in Wednesday’s regular season finale, likely will miss Game 1 Saturday against the Celtics and the best-case scenario is a return for Game 2 Tuesday. Prigioni became a Mike Woodson favorite for his playmaking and pressuring the ball on defense.

Woodson said he’s leaning toward starting Chris Copeland in Prigioni’s place to keep Carmelo Anthony at power forward.

“We definitely are going to miss Pablo but it can’t change nothing because it’s the playoffs,’’ Raymond Felton said. “We got to perform. We’re definitely going to miss Pablo. And hopefully we’ll get him back the second game. Maybe the first game and a miracle happens.

“Pablo is hurt but we got a lot of guys on this team who can step up,’’ Felton added. “We still got a lot of guys coming back who haven’t played in a while so they should have fresh legs.’’

The Knicks were at their best when Felton had help with a second point guard, and were 18-5 to start the season with a Felton-Jason Kidd pairing. Woodson said he can’t start Kidd now because it would give him no backup point guard. He also won’t start power forward Kenyon Martin because that forces Anthony back to small forward. That leaves Copeland, who has had an eye-opening rookie season with his ability to score inside-out — driving the ball and knocking in 3-pointers.

Woodson said the Knicks will miss Prigioni’s pressure defense.

“Raymond is a solo point guard now,’’ Woodson said. “He’s got to defend that spot. He’s got to apply pressure up for the floor like Pablo does. Nothing changes. [He’s] just got to duplicate what Pablo does until he gets back.’’

***

Woodson all but ruled out Amar’e Stoudemire (right knee debridement surgery) for the first round. Stoudemire did some shooting yesterday but Woodson believes the Eastern Conference semifinals would be a more realistic goal.

“I think he’s going to be out,’’ Woodson said. “That’s my gut. But he was out today moving around and shooting today. It was kind of nice to see him on the floor.’’

In odd timing, a Stoudemire documentary, which began filming two years ago, will debut tonight on Epix.

According to a source, there is footage of his summer workouts with Hakeem Olajuwon and the tail end deals with his latest surgery in March.

***

Woodson became the first Knicks coach to win Eastern Conference Coach of the Month since Pat Riley in 1994. Woodson led the Knicks to an 8-2 April as they surpassed the 50-win plateau for the first time since 1999-2000. Ironically, Mike D’Antoni, the man Woodson replaced, won the Western Conference honors with the Lakers... The Knicks finished with the league’s best home mark in East at 31-10. ... Patrick Ewing will join the MSG Network coverage for Game 2 and newly-minted Hall of Famer Bernard King will be on MSG throughout the series.
 4 years ago '04        #9745
Born_Loser|M 96 heat pts96
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Steve Serby

It is Carmelo Anthony’s team, Carmelo Anthony’s city, and after all the playoff futility he has endured, if this isn’t Carmelo Anthony’s time, it never will be.

He’s the one on the billboards, he’s the one who dreamed of playing Broadway, he’s the one who must now be Reggie Jackson in October and Eli Manning in February and Mark Messier in June.

So here comes Anthony roaring into the playoffs tomorrow at the Garden playing the best basketball of his life, except the proud, old Celtics won’t care much that he led the league in scoring. If it won’t be Doc Rivers doing everything in his power to take Melo out of the game and make others beat him, it will be Kevin Garnett doing everything in his power to get in Anthony’s head and make it snap, crackle, pop once again.

Kenyon Martin says Melo need not worry.

“I got it,” Martin told The Post yesterday.

In what way?

“It won’t happen, man, ’cause he ain’t gotta do all that bangin’ and all that with KG no more,” K-Mart said.

Because?

“Cause I’m here,” he said.

Martin was not a Knick when Garnett said whatever cereal trash-talkers say that got Anthony crazy.

“A lot of the stuff he’s sayin’, he does, is to motivate himself,” K-Mart said. “I don’t believe in it. It’s all fluff to me.”

But if he starts flapping his gums at Melo?

“I’ll intervene,” Martin said. “Bottom line.”

This is the best possible news for Anthony, who needs to have all his energies focused on carrying his team and his city to heights neither has reached in what feels like an eternity. He has managed one playoff win as a Knick, in nine games, the only Knicks playoff win in 12 years, and there are no more excuses for him.

He is in his prime, he is in championship shape. He has players around him he trusts now, he has a coach he likes and respects now, he has a championship-starved fan base that longs for him to be Clyde Frazier in Game 7 against Wilt’s Lakers every take-no-prisoners night, for him to wear Bernard King’s game face every refuse-to-lose night, for him to mimic Patrick Ewing’s commitment to excellence every warrior night.

“I feel great,” Anthony said. “My body feels great. We feel great.

“We’re ready to rock.”

And:

“We have a shot to do something special.”

Martin played with Anthony in Denver from 2004-11

“He’s always had that scorer’s mentality,” K-Mart said, “but he has that a.ssassin mentality now, where he’s going after everybody, and for all the right reasons. He’s trying to win it. He’s got a scoring title under his belt. ... He wants to win a championship, you can tell. I see the focus in him every day. He’s taking the challenge defensively each and every night no matter who he’s guarding.”

Mike Woodson has repeatedly reminded the Knicks that whining to the referees is counterproductive.

“The refs, we know that we can’t think about them,” Anthony said.

Patrick Ewing never could get past Michael Jordan without a sidekick, and it may very well be asking too much of Melo to get past LeBron James and that crew without one. It isn’t asking too much of Anthony to at least get to LeBron and the Heat, to make this a long, hot spring that would sear his legacy forever in the hearts of orange-and-blue New York and leave the banners up in the rafters nodding their approval.

“He’s taken on the pressure of the city itself, he’s taken on the leadership role, he’s taken on the scoring role,” Bernard King said yesterday on ESPN Radio, “and he’s ready for these playoffs.”

Anthony has failed to get out of the first round eight times in nine years, is 17-37 in the playoffs. Does it bother him?

“No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t. Each year is a new year. I get to start all over each year,” he said.

He starts all over with a Garden that wants so much to embrace him, to forgive him for not being LeBron.

“The good thing about that is we’re here on our home court and we have a chance to protect it,” Anthony said.

Much easier to protect your home court when you know that K-Mart’s got your back.
 4 years ago '04        #9746
Born_Loser|M 96 heat pts96
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Hahn

Carmelo Anthony has enjoyed the best regular season of his career. But what lies ahead determines everything. More:

"Everything we accomplished in the regular season really pretty much don't matter at this point," Melo said of winning 54 games, the Atlantic Division, gaining the No. 2 seed in the East and, of course, winning his first NBA scoring title.

"It doesn't matter right now," he said again.

Never mind his critics, for Melo, this is the moment he's been waiting for since he returned from London with a gold medal around his neck.

He does not live in a vacuum. He is well aware of how he is being labeled. He is well aware of his playoff record.

He is also close friends with LeBron James, who often heard the same said about him, until it all went away after last year's championship.

Melo may not have enough around him to lead the Knicks beyond LeBron's Heat, but he has the best chance to do it.

And he knows nothing short of getting a shot at the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals will be acceptable. In fact, it may be the only ending that will allow this season to be called the success it has been so far.
 4 years ago '08        #9747
AC_89 162 heat pts162
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@IanBegley

NBA announces 2013 Draft order. #Knicks have 24th pick in 1st round. Their 2nd round pick (No. 54) goes to WAS in the Chandler sign & trade
 4 years ago '04        #9748
Born_Loser|M 96 heat pts96
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Berman

The Celtics may have already blown their best shot.

With the Knicks vulnerable Saturday in Game 1, the Celtics may have lost their only opportunity to seize momentum in the first-round series.

Evidence suggests the Knicks are only going to get better and it’s only going to get tougher for the Celtics as the series resumes tomorrow with Game 2 at the Garden.

The Celtics gave the Knicks a good scare, but the Knicks’ record-setting fourth-quarter defense sealed the Game 1 win, 85-78, and made them again resemble a club with championship mettle.

“It’s what good teams are supposed to do,’’ coach Mike Woodson said in yesterday’s conference call regarding their playoff-record fourth-quarter defense in holding the Celtics to eight points.

“We’ve been one of the best fourth-quarter defensive teams in the league [ranked second]. That’s the time you have to step up and make plays. I thought [Saturday’s] game, we were probably more solid than we’ve ever been all season in terms of locking in and rotating.’’

Center Tyson Chandler, who played his season’s most ineffective game Saturday after sitting out two weeks to rest his neck, was rusty and suffered through a scoreless, shotless day. Woodson said he expects the center to be “back up to speed’’ tomorrow.

“It won’t take him long,’’ Woodson said. “That was a factor. I could tell the way he was moving, he didn’t have the pop we’re used to seeing him have. That’s expected. Eventually he’ll get his stamina back.’’

The Knicks are also figuring on having starting guard Pablo Prigioni (ankle) back for tomorrow, changing the matchup dynamics in the Knicks’ favor.

With Prigioni starting in a two-point-guard alignment, defensive specialist Iman Shumpert will shift to hound series X-factor Jeff Green, the athletic wing who pumped in 20 first-half points.

Carmelo Anthony was switched to Green in the second half and slowed him down. But an Anthony-Green battle is not what Woodson has in mind because the Knicks want to keep Anthony out of foul trouble and fresh on offense.

The alignment with Prigioni puts less pressure on rookie Chris Copeland, who started despite a sore shoulder and jangling nerves. Copeland, who started out on Green, will head to the bench.

Woodson revealed their matchup preference is Raymond Felton dogging Paul Pierce and Shumpert on Green. Felton did good work on Pierce late, forcing him into an errant pass that Anthony intercepted for a breakaway layup.

“If Pablo’s back, the lineup changes to start out anyway,’’ Woodson said. “We probably have Raymond on Paul, Iman on Green. That’s what we envisioned coming into the series before Pablo got hurt. I thought Melo did an excellent job on Green. Green’s a tough cover for anybody.’’

The Knicks also don’t expect poor shooting nights from their dynamic 1-2 punch, Anthony and J.R. Smith (20-of-48).

The Knicks’ defense won Game 1, not the offense, which looked sluggish (40.5 percent). The pace, ball movement and shotmaking was off.

“We went back and charted our offense,’’ Woodson said. “We had some slow times where it was very stagnant. At times where we had movement and good looks and just didn’t make shots that could’ve broke the game open. When you play playoff basketball, it’s not always going to go pretty offensively. It’s the first thing that normally goes because everyone’s so locked in from a defensive standpoint.’’

The Knicks held Boston without a field goal in the final 4:32. Jason Kidd and Kenyon Martin, who played the fourth quarter over Chandler, were the defensive stars. Just like they were once with the New Jersey Nets, who advanced to two straight NBA Finals.

“Both of them are still relentless and savvy,’’ Woodson said.

Anthony played off the first win with great humility.

“Although we won, we didn’t really do nothing,’’ Anthony said. “We just protected our home court, got our first win. Game 2 will be even tougher.”

Maybe not.
 4 years ago '04        #9749
Born_Loser|M 96 heat pts96
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Based Hahn

Mike Woodson left an all-star on the bench in the fourth quarter and it was the right move. More:

Tyson Chandler, last season's Defensive Player of the Year and an all-star this season, was back in uniform. But he was on the bench in the most important part of Game 1 because Woodson felt Kenyon Martin was more effective.

When asked about the decision afterward, Woodson stuck to a message he has been preaching all season.

"Doesn't matter who plays," he said. "Tyson didn't have it and that's no knock against him. He gave us what he had. I just elected to go with Kenyon."

Chandler afterward admitted he felt rusty after missing several weeks with the neck issue. He said the neck "felt good" and it was "more my conditioning" that impacted his play.

He expected to "be better come Game 2" and said of Martin's performance in his place, "Huge, huge. Kenyon came in and played big minutes and made big plays."

That's something to consider for Game 2 and beyond: Tyson Chandler hardly had an impact and the Knicks still won the game.
 4 years ago '04        #9750
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Berman

After sitting out Game 1 for ABC, MSG Network will resume its Knicks telecasts with Game 2 tomorrow — which means Kevin Garnett better watch his mouth.

MSG Network recently has restarted using its court-side microphones to pick up the players’ oncourt utterances, and it’s been a boon for the viewer late this season.

It all came about after the infamous Jan. 7 contest between the Celtics and Knicks when Garnett and Carmelo Anthony had their trash-talking battle in the fourth quarter.

It led to a one-game suspension for Anthony when he confronted Garnett after the game in the tunnel and later by the team bus. Garnett allegedly made a crude remark about La La Vasquez, Anthony’s wife, comparing her to cereal.

The next few games, owner James Dolan had two MSG Network employees hold very visible parabolic microphones to pick up audio. The Post reported the decision to employ the microphones was made to protect the combustible Anthony from another “he said-he said’’ dispute by having an audio record.

While Dolan ditched the visible parabolic mikes, others high-tech court-side mikes have been used during MSG telecasts to pick up the players and coaches after NBA commissioner David Stern praised the stunt as potentially bringing fans closer to the game.

For instance, during the April 9 telecast, when Kenyon Martin fell in a heap, he could be heard pounding the floor with his hand and saying clearly to the trainer: “It’s my ankle.’’

On the MSG Network post-game show and website, a montage called “Sounds of the Game’’ is shown of players and coaches yapping.
 4 years ago '04        #9751
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Hahn

Were Chris Copeland's ineffective minutes a result of nervousness or an issue with his shoulder? More:

Copeland took the first shot of the game and it was a hesitant three that became an airball when Jeff Green tipped it. Beyond that, Copeland, off an impressive rookie regular season, had a forgettable playoff debut.

He was scoreless in 13 minutes on 0-for-3 shooting and one rebound. And he wore a compression shirt to protect a left shoulder injury he suffered in the final game of the season.

"It's been better," he said of the shoulder, "but I'll be cool."

He revealed that he had a cortisone shot in the shoulder before the game "to help with the pain" and is getting treatment.

Mike Woodson grinned, however, when asked if the shoulder led to Copeland's struggle.

"He could be a little nervous," Woodson said. "This is big-time basketball and when you have never done it, it can be an eye-opener. He'll be all right."

Copeland admitted feeling anxiousness before the game and caught up in the buzz of the crowd.

"I was excited," he said. "I just wanted to get everything rolling and get that ball in the air."

Copeland started, but if Pablo Prigioni (ankle) is available for Game 2, he will start and Copeland will go back to his usual place coming off the bench.

Will that help ease the nerves for Copeland or is the shoulder a greater concern for his confidence?
 4 years ago '04        #9752
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Congrats to SMITTY for winning 6th Man of the Year
 4 years ago '04        #9753
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Based Hahn

Spread-out series schedule impacts momentum, but favors rest. Allows Jason to play like a Kidd. More:

"This is the best time . . . this is the fun," Jason Kidd said of the playoffs. "This is what the journey is all about."

Kidd, at 40, still lives for this. January and February? Not so much. He had a strong start to the season to help get the Knicks out of the gate properly, but then mainly cruised through the middle of the season. All the while, Kidd's purpose was to have enough left in the tank for when he could help this team the most.

In his first playoff game as a Knick, the 147th of his NBA career, Kidd's impact was felt, especially in the fourth quarter. He had three steals, including one Carmelo Anthony called "the key play for us" in the win. Kidd deflected a pass and then dove on the floor to retrieve the loose ball.

"For him to dive on the floor the way he did, that was, believe it or not, the key play for us to get that steal," Melo said.

Tyson Chandler, who won a title with Kidd in Dallas, said the veteran showed "a champion's heart . . . Plays like that, you've got a guy 40 years old stripping a ball and diving on the floor, it's key."

After the Game 1 win, Kidd also showed the poise and experience that he brings to the locker room.

"This is a veteran ballclub," he said. "We know we haven't accomplished anything."

He immediately pointed to re-setting the intensity for Game 2 and not allowing the Celtics to take a split back to Boston.

"The swing games," Kidd said, "are always the most important ones."
 4 years ago '04        #9754
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Jared Zwerling

Today's Burning Question: Can the Knicks create an advantage with a smaller lineup against the Celtics?

On Sunday, Mike Woodson said Pablo Prigioni will start at point guard when healthy, moving Raymond Felton and Iman Shumpert to the 2 and 3 spot, respectively.

Many coaches would counter with a bigger lineup against a Boston starting five of Avery Bradley, Paul Pierce, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass and Kevin Garnett. But Woodson is confident in the Knicks' smaller lineup strategy, which should pay off offensively.

With the extra point guard on the court, the Knicks can look to score more off the pick-and-roll, which should force the Celtics to scramble to rotate. The Knicks would also be more likely to make the extra pass. Woodson said the offense in Game 1 became too stagnant at times with Felton as the sole point guard on the court. While Felton played well, the coach said Prigioni was "definitely missed."

But here's the question: Can a smaller Knicks lineup contain the Celtics? With Felton on Pierce and Shumpert on Green, Doc Rivers could call more isolation plays on the perimeter and in the low post. Woodson would likely have to send an extra defender at the Celtics' two best scorers, which means the Knicks' perimeter rotations need to be on point.

Rivers-coached teams play smart basketball, and his players have a knack for reading the defense well and finding open creases to score. For example, three times in Game 1, Bradley capitalized off backdoor cuts. Pierce, Green and Garnett complicate matters because they're skilled passers out of the low post.
 4 years ago '04        #9755
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NEW YORK -- Knicks guard J.R. Smith has won the NBA's Sixth Man award, a league source confirmed to ESPNNewYork.com's Ian Begley on Monday.

The Knicks have called an afternoon news conference at which Smith will be given the award, the source said. The news was previously reported by The a.ssociated Press.

The eighth-year guard has averaged 18.1 points in 80 games, all off the bench. He had 29 games in which he scored 20 points as a reserve, tying him with the Clippers' Jamal Crawford for the NBA lead.

Smith helped the Knicks win the Atlantic Division title for the first time since 1994. New York is the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference and leads the Boston Celtics 1-0 in their first-round playoff series.
 4 years ago '04        #9756
Born_Loser|M 96 heat pts96
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P-Body n*ggaz practiced today and current status for game 2 has improved to "Probable"
 4 years ago '04        #9757
Born_Loser|M 96 heat pts96
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$41,867 | Props total: 3277 3277
Jared Zwerling & Ian Begley

J.R. Smith recently said that if the Knicks win the championship, he will get a Knicks tattoo.

So should fans read anything into the permanency of that potential blue and orange addition?

Well, during a "SportsCenter" segment on Monday discussing his Sixth Man Award, Smith said that New York is where he wants to finish his career.

"Without a doubt," Smith said. "I was born in New Jersey, born and raised. I would love to retire a Knick."

This offseason, Smith could be tempted to leave financially. The Knicks can only pay him up to $5 million based on his Early Bird Rights -- 175 percent of his salary this season. But another team with significant cap space can offer Smith a higher amount, and the Knicks would be powerless to stop him from leaving. And since he's not restricted, meaning the Knicks have no control over his free agency, they won't be able to match any offer sheets to retain him.

In favor of the Knicks keeping Smith is his close relationship with Carmelo Anthony and Mike Woodson, who helped push the 27-year-old into one of the best shooting guards in the NBA down the stretch this season. In addition, Smith loves New York City beyond the court, from being close to home to the nightlife. He's also seen a recent spike in his sponsorship deals (for example, SK Energy).

MORE SHOTS FOR KG? Celtics coach Doc Rivers said that he'd like to get Kevin Garnett more involved offensively in Game 2. Kenyon Martin appreciates the coach's candor.

"That's fine, whatever. They've got to make adjustments," he said. "So if they're going to tell [the media] that's what they're doing, thank you, so we can prepare."

The Knicks big man helped hold Garnett to eight points on 4-for-12 shooting in Game 1.

DOUBLE TROUBLE? Anthony expects more double teams from the Celtics on Tuesday. He was single covered often on Saturday and scored 36 points on 13-for-29 shooting.

"I think that's an adjustment they will make; double teams. We're prepared for that," Melo said. "I have to make plays for [my teammates]; they have to make plays for me."

Anthony said that he missed a few open shots on Saturday, but he wasn't beating himself up over them.

"I'm not really worried about what I shoot from the field and things like that," he said. "I'm trying to win the basketball game."

On the perception that he's a shoot-first player after he had just one a.ssist on Saturday, Anthony said, "It really doesn't matter to me. I know what type of player I am. I know that I share the ball. We share the ball as a team. Sometimes me sharing the ball, I don't always get the a.ssist. It is what it is. I really don’t pay no attention to it."
 4 years ago '04        #9758
Born_Loser|M 96 heat pts96
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Ian Begley & Jared Zwerling

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Some Knicks fans might be worried about Raymond Felton's Game 2 defensive a.ssignment. But Mike Woodson isn't.

The coach is confident that Felton can guard Paul Pierce, a plan if Pablo Prigioni plays.

Prigioni missed Game 1 with a sprained right ankle and he's probable for Game 2. If he returns to the starting lineup, he'd be matched up with Avery Bradley. That would leave Felton to guard Pierce.

"Ray's guarded a little bit of everybody all year," Woodson said. "Our team does that. It's OK. He'll be fine."

Pierce, the Celtics' top offensive threat, could have his way against Felton, who is six inches shorter and 30 pounds lighter. Pierce led the Celtics in scoring at 18.6 points per game during the regular season. He had 21 points on 6-for-15 shooting in Game 1 when he was guarded initially by Iman Shumpert.

Woodson said on Monday that he's comfortable with Felton guarding Pierce because the Knicks point guard matched up against the future Hall of Famer in the Knicks' last two regular-season games against Boston -- both wins for New York.

"It's nothing new," the coach said.

It will be interesting to see how Felton handles Pierce. The Knicks might need to send a help defender to slow Pierce, which could lead to uncovered shooters on the perimeter or open lanes in the paint for the Celts.

Woodson, again, isn't worried.

"He's got to be tough. That's all I can tell you," he said when asked about the height difference between Felton and Pierce. "Good luck. He's got to play."

FROM PIERCE TO ...: Jeff Green. That's who Shumpert will match up with on Tuesday -- the second game in a row the defensive specialist will guard a Celtics' main scorer.

Shumpert held his own in Game 1 against Pierce, who was 40 percent from the field. Shumpert's biggest challenge was working around pick-and-rolls with Pierce facilitating and Kevin Garnett setting screens. The additional size was something the Knick wasn't used to. But in several face-up situations, Shumpert's strong base enabled him to keep his footing and get up into Pierce.

There were a few times Pierce beat Shumpert to the basket and got fouled, but a few of those breakdowns were inevitable with the size disadvantage. While Shumpert is 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, Pierce is 6-foot-7, 235 pounds.

Green is two inches taller, and he's more athletic and a better low-post player than Pierce.

"Not only is he long and able to stretch out to make a lot of buckets, he's also very athletic, bouncy and making more and more shots as the season goes on," Shumpert said.

Green also excels in the open court. He occasionally acts as the point forward off of defensive rebounds to give the Celtics a quick scoring threat, which they miss in Rajon Rondo.

"He's great in isolation and he's great working the post, so a lot of different rotations, a lot of different schemes you've got to throw at him," Shumpert said. "But all in all, we've got to play Knick basketball and make sure we communicate and make sure rebound the ball."

Shumpert is appreciative of a difficult defensive a.ssignment once again.

"It give me a load of confidence, especially going to the other end of the court, getting that big stop and especially playing at home guarding those players," he said.
 4 years ago '04        #9759
Born_Loser|M 96 heat pts96
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Berman

With deep emotions swirling around Boston, the Knicks want nothing to do with heading there in a deadlocked series.

With guard Pablo Prigioni ready to return tonight to make the Knicks’ starting lineup whole again, the Knicks talked of an urgency to take a 2-0 lead in the series.

Game 2 is tonight at the Garden, with the series shifting to Boston Friday and Sunday for Games 3 and 4.

“We’re approaching this game as a must-win here on our home court,’’ Carmelo Anthony said. “We want to win this basketball game. We don’t want to go back to Boston 1-1. Game 2 is just harder than Game 1. Although we took care of business in Game 1, we still want to come back and not give away this game. This game is more important than Game 1 was.”

The Knicks, buoyed by the news of J.R. Smith winning the Sixth Man Award, should be in better shape tonight with Prigioni stabilizing the lineup and allowing the matchups they want.

Iman Shumpert gets series X-factor Jeff Green, Raymond Felton dogs Paul Pierce and Prigioni squares up with Boston point guard Avery Bradley. Prigioni’s insertion into the starting lineup last month in Utah coincided with their 13-game winning streak.

“It’s huge,’’ Game 1 hero Kenyon Martin said of Game 2. “You don’t want to go up there 1-1 facing that team and that crowd. I’ve been there.

“They know what they have to do. They’re going to come here and they’re going to scratch, claw, f!ght. They know it’s a big game. We’ve got to be prepared for whatever.”

The Knicks survived Green’s 20-point first half and bottled up the Celtics by holding them to a playoff-record low eight points in the fourth quarter. But the Knicks’ ball movement and pressure defense should improve with Prigioni, moving rookie Chris Copeland back to the bench.

“We want to play Knicks basketball,’’ Shumpert said. “We want to get out, we want to pressure, pressure early, we want to pressure in the full court. That’s something that Pablo loves to do, so having him back would be great.’’

The Knicks are also expecting a more ferocious Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, neither of whom imposed their will on Saturday’s game, especially down the stretch.

Garnett and Pierce combined to shoot 10 of 27 in Boston’s 85-78 loss as the starry duo combined for six points in the fourth quarter. The Celtics said the intent is to get Garnett more involved. Garnett actually seemed passive — even light on trash-talking.

“Yeah, they’re going to come back,’’ Anthony said. “They’re not All-Stars, Hall-of-Fame guys, for no reason. They’re going to make adjustments. We’ve got to be prepared for that.”

When told of Boston’s plan to make Garnett a bigger factor, Martin said: “They got to make adjustments. If that’s what they’re doing, thank you. We’ll be prepared for it.’’

“I expect him to get more shots,’’ center Tyson Chandler said of Garnett. “We have to do a good job defending in the paint. And make sure he doesn’t get open jump shots.’’

The Knicks also need to make adjustments on offense, which sputtered Saturday. The team shot 40.5 percent and totaled just 13 a.ssists on 32 buckets.

Anthony scored 36 points. Though he was just 13 of 29, he got hot late with a 4-for-5 fourth quarter. He expects to see more double teams and knows he has to do a better job moving the ball.

“I’m pretty sure that’s an adjustment they will make, double teams,’’ Anthony said. “We’re prepared for that. We’ve got to be prepared for thatGuys, when the ball comes to them, they’ve got to make plays. I have to make plays for them, they have to make plays for me. We have to make plays for each other out there.”

The Knicks will also need a more vibrant Chandler, who was benched in the fourth quarter for Martin. The center, who didn’t take a shot or record a single point, was returning from a two-week absence from a recurring neck injury and played just 20 minutes.

Chandler, with a bulging disk in his cervical spine, said he felt “a little stiff, sore’’ afterward. He said his poor play was a conditioning issue but he seemed tentative. He promises a better showing tonight.

“The more on the floor, the better condition I’ll be,’’ Chandler said. “I feel I’ll be better Game 2 than I was Game 1.

“Game 2 is just as important as Game 1. We didn’t do much yet. Game 2 is just as important as the first.’’“I feel I’ll be better Game 2 than I was Game 1.

“Game 2 is just as important as Game 1. We didn’t do much yet. Game 2 is just as important as the first.’’
 4 years ago '04        #9760
Born_Loser|M 96 heat pts96
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Berman

J.R. Smith was ticked during training camp. The enigmatic yet supremely talented Smith wanted to finally be an NBA starter and was crushed when coach Mike Woodson sat down with him with the news he would be the team’s Sixth Man.

It couldn’t have worked out any better for Smith, who received the Sixth Man Award yesterday during a press conference at the Knicks’ Tarrytown facility.

“I’ve been known as a selfish player for so long, I wanted to show my teammates I could be a team guy and it’s all about the team,” Smith said. “[Woodson] always told me it’s not who starts. It’s who finishes the game and 99 percent of the time I’m finishing.’’

More than half of Smith’s teammates, entire coaching staff and general manager Glen Grunwald attended the press conference. Smith was cheered by his mates when he entered in a dapper gray suit. When he took the podium, he addressed his mates with a playful “Woot, Woot’’ and they chanted back.

Woodson said Smith accepted the a.ssignment “in grand style.’’

“I just thought for our team, we needed to establish guys coming off the bench to make plays,’’ Woodson said. “He bought in. He didn’t like it at first, but he accepted his role and walks away with the Sixth Man Award.”

While the award brought joy yesterday, it could complicate Smith’s return next season as he is expected to opt out of his contract and become a free agent. His stock will only rise with this award. He is scheduled to make $2.8 million next season and Smith has long felt he has been underpaid.

The Knicks have his early Bird rights and can exceed the salary cap to re-sign him. But they still can only go four years and as high as $5.2 million, under salary-cap rules. Teams with the full mid-level exception of $5 million can equal the offer. Teams under the cap can blow the Knicks out of the water.

Smith, who grew up in Freehold, N.J., was asked if he’d like to remain in New York, but declined to say. Smith’s agent, Leon Rose, his parents and brother Chris Smith, who should be on the Knicks next season, attended the press conference.

“I’m not really worried about it right now,’’ Smith said. “I’m worried about Game 2 versus Boston. When that times comes, I’ll worry about it then.’’

The Knicks will be desperate to have him back. He sizzled as the second scoring option (18.1 ppg, 5.3 rebounds) to Carmelo Anthony.

“I gave him a big hug and told him things have a way of working out,’’ Woodson said. “They do.’’

Woodson masterfully handled Smith, who has a renegade image. Earlier this season, Smith admitted he got caught up in the New York nightlife last season and had cleaned up his act in this, his ninth season.

“He’s figured it out,’’ Woodson said.

“I’m so proud of him,’’ Tyson Chandler said. “He dedicated himself this year and it’s paying off for him. He’s really focused and locked in this year. He’s more focused on his craft. He’s a professional this year, staying after, getting up shots. Something clicked.’’

“Big honor,’’ Anthony said. “I’m honored to be a part of it. To have him alongside me as my wingman.’’

The mercurial shooting guard gained control of the award with a huge March and April after adding a driving element to his scoring arsenal after being encouraged by Woodson.

“If you’re going to be a scorer in this league, you got to mix it up,’’ Woodson said. “If you don’t use the free-throw line in this league as your friend, it’s going to be a struggle. He went through a phase where he was just shooting jump shots and jump shots and finally a green light went off.’’
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