Tuesday, May 14, 2013
McMillan on Ray: 'He was always capable'
By Jared Zwerling
Raymond Felton has been one of the Knicks' X-factors in the playoffs, averaging 15.7 points on 47 percent shooting to go with 4.4 assists and 1.4 steals per game.
Nate McMillan, who coached Felton in Portland last season, told ESPNNewYork.com that the way the veteran point guard has performed this postseason is what the Trail Blazers coaching staff envisioned.
"What he's doing now is what we felt he was always capable of doing for us," McMillan said. "He just didn't have that kind of year. When we brought him to Portland, what he's doing -- pushing the ball, attacking the basket, his ability to create opportunities as well as push the tempo -- we felt he could do that."
McMillan, who coached the Blazers from 2005-12, said he recruited Felton twice even before the point guard joined the Knicks in the summer of 2010. McMillan also said his assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff, who had coached Felton in Charlotte, and the Blazers' scouts were "really high on him."
Denver traded Felton to Portland in June 2011. The lockout followed soon thereafter, lasting until December. When Felton finally reported to the Blazers, he was out of shape.
"I think [his weight] had a direct impact on how well he played," McMillan said. "When you're not conditioned to play, then you're going to struggle, you're going to turn the ball over. If you don't have your legs, your shot is not going to fall.
"He had picked up some weight, as he told me, and we were trying to work on him moving that weight during the season."
Felton averaged just 11.4 points and shot a meager 40.7 percent from the field for the Blazers, but McMillan positively remembers the point guard as a "competitor" and being "fearless."
After eliminating Boston in six games in the first round, the Knicks dropped two of the first three games of their series against Indiana.
"J.R. [Smith] has lost a little bit of his rhythm, but I think [the Knicks] have got the talent," McMillan said. "Indiana is a very good team and this thing could go seven [games] with the matchups. And Indiana is physical, Carmelo [Anthony] plays a physical brand of basketball. It's difficult to pick the winner of this series."
It will be easier to pick a winner Tuesday night in Game 4 if Felton rebounds from his six-point, two-assist showing in Game 3. Anthony and Smith haven't been able to do it alone in the playoffs, and Felton has been that much-needed third scorer.