Saturday, March 9, 2013
STAT Reaction: Picking up the pieces
By Jared Zwerling
This Knicks season has forever cemented the word "soreness" as a much bigger cause for concern among New York fans.
That's because what Amar'e Stoudemire has been through will never escape their thoughts.
After the power forward experienced a sore left knee in training camp, it turned out that it required a debridement procedure. The diagnosis: out approximately six weeks. Now, more than two months since returning on Jan. 1, his sore right knee has led to another debridement. Once again, the diagnosis is six weeks, which could cancel any chance for a regular-season return.
"I was surprised, man," James White said before the Jazz game. "I didn't think it was that severe. He said his knee was bothering him a little bit, it got a little swollen."
Keep this in mind: The first time Stoudemire had the procedure in October 2012, he extended the recovery window by a lot. He finally suited up on New Year's Day. So with that being said, perhaps we won't see STAT again this season, including the playoffs.
What's next for the Knicks? The bottom line is this: They need 3-pointers to fall as well as they were at the beginning of the season, when they started 18-5. The Knicks shot a scorching 41 percent from downtown during that run.
But here's the biggest hurdle these days: Opponents look to specifically take away the Knicks' long balls. That means Mike Woodson must inject more creativity into the offensive schemes, increasing off-the-ball screens to encourage movement to get shooters more open. It can't just be Melo, Melo, Melo, who's dealing with an injury himself and has missed three games. The Knicks capitalize well on 3-pointers in transition, but they've declined in half-court sets.
Efficiency will be extremely important. The Knicks can't afford to have Raymond Felton and J.R. Smith jacking up 15 shots each a game and shooting below 40 percent. They're going to need to take their games inside more and connect off pick and rolls with Tyson Chandler, Marcus Camby and Kenyon Martin, who recognizes the depth on the team.
Amar'e Stoudemire is no stranger to adversity, but he's also one of the all-time Knicks. Where does he rank? ESPN NY's Top 25 KnicksVote
"[Injuries are a] part of sports, we all know that, so we've got to come together as a team," Martin said. "That's why I'm here, so I'm looking forward to the opportunity to get some more playing time. It's a very, very unfortunate situation."
Post notes. Speaking of Chandler, Woodson may want to consider posting up his All-Star center. Chandler works on those moves a lot in practice and during pregame, and he can finish with his length, quickness and short hook shots. Without Chandler, Anthony is the team's only low-post threat, but why not use Chandler? He did, after all, work with Hakeem Olajuwon last summer.
Woodson knows that he'll miss Stoudemire's down-low scoring, and the Knicks need another answer there beyond Anthony.
"[Stoudemire's] been very sufficient in terms of how he's been playing, especially on the offensive end, and he's gotten better defensively," the coach said. "It gave us an opportunity to put him on the block and utilize his skills that he worked on this summer, and that really helped us."
Sore subject. Let's not forget, by the way, that Melo is day to day with a sore right knee. The entire Knicks community is doing the same thing right now: cringing at the sound of "soreness."
The Knicks (37-22) are holding the top spot in the Atlantic Division, but that can change quickly.