Derek Fisher thinks Knicks can win 63 Games in 2016 – Pause for Laugther

derek-fisher-knicksIf you’re looking for a dark, dark horse team to win the 2016 NBA title, then perhaps you should be betting on the New York Knicks when future odds are released after this year’s postseason….at least if we’re to listen to the words of Derek Fisher.

The Knicks head coach is taking the philosophy of having confidence in your team – or at least next year’s team – to a whole new level. Speaking with Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN New York, Fisher not only believes that his team can experience a huge turnaround next season, but even win 63 games in the process. We’ll discuss the “logic” behind this belief about the 15-63 Knicks in a little bit, but first, here’s an excerpt from Youngmisuk’s column:

The Knicks’ head coach said Thursday that the Knicks “will turn around quickly.” When asked about potentially duplicating a dramatic 23-game turnaround like the Milwaukee Bucks (38-40) have done this season, Fisher said the Knicks are capable of something much more stunning.

“I guess that’s possible, but we are not here trying to squeeze in, we are not here trying to go from 15 to 36,” said Fisher, whose Knicks currently have 15 wins. “That’s just not who we are. So it can turn around quickly. It will turn around quickly.

“But we don’t really have to put a number on it,” Fisher continued. “We are 6-21 in games [decided] by six points or less this year. So we lost 21 games on two possessions. So we don’t have go from 15 to 36 next year. We can go from 15 to 63 if we really want to. But that is up to us.”

carmelo-anthony-1There are so many things wrong with this prediction that it’s not even funny, so it’s hard to find a starting point for discussion. But we’ll begin with a little history first, which involves the record for the greatest NBA turnaround. As ESPN points out, the 2007-08 Boston Celtics went 66-16, which was 42 games better than their previous season at 24-58. Even if the Knicks were to win out over their final four games, that would put them at 19-63, meaning 63 wins would give them the all-time record for best NBA turnaround.

Okay, so let’s suspend reality and just assume that there’s a chance the 2015-16 New York team is capable of this gaudy improvement. Let us also consider what they have to work off of from this season, which has included awful defense, a 16-game losing streak and a franchise-worst in losses. Blame this on Carmelo Anthony’s mid-season decision to have season-ending surgery all you want, but things were terrible before their star player checked out for the year.

Learning the Triangle Offense has also proven to be a mess for the Knicks, with some players even publicly questioning whether this is the right fit for a young New York squad. But nevertheless, Phil Jackson will be back as Team President, Fisher will again be the head coach, and the Knicks will still be working on making the Triangle flow right.

Assuming they can get the offense down, then there is some hope for next year. After all, Anthony should be healthy in the 2015-16 season and, with the worst record right now, the Knicks are guaranteed a top-4 lottery pick. So there’s a solid chance that they could add a franchise center like Karl-Anthony Towns or Jahlil Okafor.

And let’s also not forget about the $25 million to $30 million in cap space that Jackson will have to work with in the offseason. This is enough money to add at least one superstar to play alongside Anthony and some very good role players. So while a 40-some win improvement might be stretching things, New York should definitely play much better basketball next season.

Knicks Likely to fire Mike Woodson during All-Star Break

mike-woodson-knicks-firedIt’s safe to say that this year hasn’t exactly gone how the New York Knicks had hoped it would. Following a season where they finished 54-28 and made the Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Knicks are sitting at 20-30 with 32 games to go. They currently trail the Charlotte Bobcats by two games for the East’s eight playoff seed.

Given the huge drop-off that New York has experienced this year, somebody has to take the blame for this mess. And according to head coach Mike Woodson, that person could very well be him.

“This year has been, for me, it’s been kind of a disaster from a coaching standpoint in trying to get players to compete and play at a high level,” Woodson recently told ESPN radio. “That’s the frustrating part about it, because I know we’re better than what we’ve shown and we’ve still got a chance.”

Woodson went on to say that he thinks he and all of his assistants, except for Herb Williams, will be fired during the upcoming All-Star break. Assuming everything goes as he predicts, Williams will serve as the interim head coach, a role which he had after Lenny Wilkens resigned in 2005.

mike-woodson-knicks-fired-1The Knicks locker room seems divided on whether or not they want Woodson to remain the head coach. J.R. Smith is one player who has publicly given his support for the embattled head coach. However, other players are reportedly tired of Woodson’s criticism of the team’s effort.

After an 11-year career as a player, Mike Woodson served as an assistant coach for several teams from 1996-2004. He then landed the Atlanta Hawks head coaching job in 2004 and compiled a 206-286 record in six seasons there. In his last three years, Woodson guided the Hawks to three straight playoff bids. But after being swept by the Orlando Magic in the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals, his contract wasn’t renewed.

However, Woodson quickly found an assistant gig with the Knicks, under head coach Mike D’Antoni. When D’Antoni resigned, Woodson became the interim head coach and led New York to a 36-30 regular season record during his tenure. They would lose their first-round playoff series 4-1 to the Miami Heat.

The team got even better under him last season and tallied the aforementioned 54-28 record. Unfortunately, the Knicks seem to be regressing under Woodson in the 2013-14 season.

2013 NBA Playoffs Betting – Second Round Matchup Analysis

tony-parkerThe first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs won’t exactly go down in history. Seven of the first round series ended after six games or less. And the only series that did go the distance – Bulls vs. Nets – was loaded with injuries, thus preventing a great matchup between two full-strength teams.

Fans will no doubt be hoping for some closer series in the second round of the playoffs, though we’re sure some of the matchups look prime for more blowouts. Assuming you’re betting on the 2013 NBA Playoffs, hopefully you’ll be on the right side of these potential blowouts. With that said, let’s take a closer look at all of the second round series.

Eastern Conference

Dwyane Wade JaVale McGee#1 Seed Miami Heat vs. #5 Seed Chicago Bulls – The Bulls overcame a rash of injuries to pull out an emotional Game 7 win over the favored New Jersey Nets. Unfortunately, Chicago also comes out of this series with a large number of bumps and bruises. Kirk Hinrich is day-to-day with a calf injury while Luol Deng is coming off a major illness.

Miami, meanwhile, is entering this matchup relatively healthy. Dwayne Wade (knee) is slightly banged-up, but participating in full-contact practices. Seeing as how the Heat already have the three best players in this series with Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh, Chicago doesn’t stand a chance. However, Joakim Noah and the Bulls might pull out one game in a gutsy performance.

Prediction: Miami wins the series 4-1

paul-george-pacers#2 New York Knicks vs. #3 Seed Indiana Pacers – The Knicks look to continue their success after winning the club’s first playoff series in 13 years. However, they face a very tough matchup in the defensive-minded Indiana Pacers. This pairing is so tough, in fact, that all of the experts are divided on who’ll take the series.

New York didn’t exactly look dominant in beating the Boston Celtics four games to two. But they do have a lot of offensive weapons in Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, Amar’e Stoudemire, Raymon Felton and Tyson Chandler. Expect Indiana to limit some of these weapons, while scoring plenty of points themselves with Paul George, David West and George Hill. But in the end, home court advantage may be the deciding factor for New York.

Prediction: New York wins the series 4-3

Western Conference

zach-randolph#1 Seed Oklahoma City Thunder vs. #5 Seed Memphis Grizzlies – Don’t expect Oklahoma City to use not having Russell Westbrook as an excuse. They still feature one of the league’s best scorers in Kevin Durant along with solid players in Serge Ibaka and Kevin Martin. However, the Thunder were built heavy at the top and don’t have a lot of firepower beyond these three.

Along with Indiana, Memphis is one of the league’s top two defensive teams. Marc Gasol and his Defensive Player of the Year award are a testament to the Grizzlies strong D. Overall, you can expect a pretty low-scoring series where Memphis comes out on top, thanks to the Westbrook season-ending injury.

Prediction: Memphis wins the series 4-2

stephen-curry#2 Seed San Antonio Spurs vs. #6 Seed Golden State Warriors – Golden State pulled off the biggest upset of the playoffs when they defeated Denver 4-2, despite David Lee getting injured. They did it with exceptionally hot shooting and will be hoping the momentum caries over against the Spurs.

San Antonio comes into this series relatively fresh after destroying the Lakers in four games. However, they do have some minor injuries issues to key contributors Tiago Splitter and Boris Diaw. However, the trio of Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili should have no trouble leading the Spurs to victory. Expect Stephen Curry and Lee (if he plays much) to help Golden State pull out at least one win though.

Prediction: San Antonio wins the series 4-1

Redemption for J.R. Smith as he wins Sixth Man Award

jr-smithJ.R. Smith has had a controversial career that’s been filled with legal troubles, jail time and questionable on-court decisions. But earlier today, the New York Knicks shooting guard was able to put these troubles behind him, at least for a day, after winning the Sixth Man of the Year Award.

Smith received 484 points in the voting, including 72 first-place votes, from a panel which featured 121 writers and broadcasters. Los Angeles Clippers shooting guard Jamal Crawford was the only player who even finished close to Smith after he collected 352 points and 31 first-place votes.

What’s interesting about all of this is that Smith went into the 2012-2013 season thinking that he’d be a starter. However, that didn’t happen and the 6’6″ guard was forced to come off the bench again. Knicks coach Mike Woodson said, “He didn’t like it, but he bought in.”

jr-smith-1Smith also discussed his surprise role off the bench by saying, “I just wanted to show everybody that I could be a team guy and it’s all about the team,”

Despite not starting a game, the New Jersey native was easily one of the Knicks’ most important players since he averaged 18.1 PPG, 5.3 RPG and 1.3 SPG in 80 games. Smith really boosted his scoring average and locked up the Sixth Man award during New York’s late-season 13-game winning streak, when he averaged 23.2 PPG on 49% shooting.

Along the way, Smith even managed to set a little history. He scored 30 or more points in three straight games off the bench, which was the first time this had been done since Milwaukee’s Ricky Pierce in 1990.

jr-smith-2Several years ago, three straight 30-point games or a Sixth Man award seemed out of the question for somebody like Smith. Upon entering the NBA straight out of high school, his youth and immaturity showed far too often. He rarely saw eye-to-eye with coaches, was suspended 10 games after an in-game brawl, spent 24 days in jail after a reckless driving incident that left his friend dead, and was suspended for three games due to a Denver nightclub incident.

Guys with rap sheets this long don’t always get second and third chances in the NBA. But coaches have always seen the talent in Smith, it was just a matter of keeping him out of trouble on and off the court. This season seems to be the breakthrough that coaches have always been looking for from the 27-year-old. And teammate Carmelo Anthony discussed why he thinks the breakthrough came about as he stated:

jr-smith-3I think there comes a point in time in your life where you’re almost forced to grow up, you’re almost forced to mature. You gotta be willing to want to do those things. I think right now, this season, J.R. has done that. I think J.R. was forced to grow up, he was forced to be mature and he was willing to take on that challenge, too.

Smith and the number two seed New York Knicks look to have a strong chance at going far in the playoffs this year. And the future beyond this year looks bright for him too. Although under a two-year contract with the Knicks that’s worth $2.8 million next season, he has a player option that allows him to decline the offer and test free agency.

It’s almost a given that he’ll test the free agent waters and see what deals are out there. But New York can also offer him a 175% salary increase under the early Bird rule, which would enable them to pay Smith around $5 million. This may not be enough, but Smith did mention that he’d love to stay in New York if possible. He said, “Without a doubt. I’m born in New Jersey, born and raise. I would love to retire a Knick.”

It’ll be interesting to see if there’s any chance of this happening when the offseason comes.

2013 NBA Playoffs Betting – First Round Matchup Analysis

lebron-jamesThe 2013 NBA playoffs officially start tomorrow, which means there’ll be plenty of intense betting action! Assuming you’re looking to do a little NBA playoffs betting, it’s definitely worth going over the first round matchups. There are several battles that figure to be extremely entertaining to watch – especially if you’ve got money on the line. So without further adieu, let’s get to the first round matchups.

Eastern Conference

#1 Seed Miami Heat (66-16) vs. #8 Seed Milwaukee Bucks (38-44) – Most people firmly believe that the Heat are destined to repeat as NBA champions. That said, few people expect the Bucks to provide much resistance. Now Milwaukee does feature a strong backcourt with Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings. However, it’s nearly impossible to see the Bucks slowing down the Miami trio of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh.

Prediction: Heat win the series 4-0

carmelo-anthony#2 Seed New York Knicks (54-28) vs. #7 Seed Boston Celtics (41-40) – This series could definitely feature some fireworks based on earlier season drama between New York’s Carmelo Anthony and Boston’s Kevin Garnett. However, potential drama is about all this matchup will offer since Boston has been doomed ever since Rajon Rando went down with a season-ending injury. Paul Pierce and Garnett may help Boston steal a game; but Anthony, J.R. Smith, Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler will be too much.

Prediction: Knicks win the series 4-1

#3 Indiana Pacers (49-32) vs. #6 Seed Atlanta Hawks (44-38) – Defense is definitely the name of the game for Indiana. They are arguably the best defensive team in the East, meaning Atlanta’s Al Horford and Josh Smith will have difficulty getting to the basket. If the Hawks are to win, they’ll need to lock down David West and Paul George, which won’t be happening.

Prediction: Pacers win the series 4-2

brook-lopez#4 Seed Brooklyn Nets (49-33) vs. #5 Seed Chicago Bulls (45-37) – Brooklyn features a nice trio of stars in Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson and Deron Williams. However, Chicago is a very well-balance club with Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer manning the paint, and Luol Deng providing a scoring boost. Plus Chicago plays better overall team defense than Brooklyn. Depending upon how healthy Noah is and if they can win the rebounding battle, Chicago can definitely take this series.

Prediction: Chicago wins the series 4-3

Western Conference

#1 Seed Oklahoma City (60-22) vs. #8 Seed Houston Rockets (45-37) – This should be an emotional series for Houston’s James Harden since he’ll be facing off against his former team. He and backcourt mate Jeremy Lin figure to be tough for the Thunder to slow down. But you can expect, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Thunder to go relatively unthreatened in this series. However, the Rockets will probably steal one game at home.

Prediction: Thunder win the series 4-1

tony-parker#2 Seed San Antonio Spurs (58-24) vs. #7 Los Angeles Lakers (45-37) – This matchup would’ve been tough enough for the Lakers to win even with Kobe Bryant. However, Bryant’s Achilles tendon injury has him sidelined until next year and Los Angeles has almost no chance. Dwight Howard would have to play out of his mind and get some big-time support from Steve Nash, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace. Tony Parker and Tim Duncan aren’t going to let this happen.

Prediction: Spurs win the series 4-1

#3 Seed Denver Nuggets (57-25) vs. #6 Seed Golden State Warriors (47-35) – The most interesting matchup in this series will be at the point guard position, where Ty Lawson faces off against Stephen Curry. Both players lead their teams in scoring, and this battle could ultimately dictate who wins the series. But as of right now, we think that Denver’s depth and strong defense will wear Golden State down over a seven-game series.

Prediction: Denver wins the series 4-3

blake-griffin-clippers#4 Seed Los Angeles Clippers (56-26) vs. #5 Memphis Grizzlies (56-26) – L.A. came on strong at the end of the season to take home court advantage in this matchup. That could huge pay dividends for Blake Griffin, Chis Paul, Jamal Crawford and the rest of the Clippers. But Memphis quite possibly plays the best defense in the league, and should be able to overcome the Clippers’ home court advantage in a close series. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol will really have to come through for Memphis though.

Prediction: Grizzlies win the series 4-3

Make sure to check back in a couple of weeks for our second round predictions on the 2013 NBA playoffs.

NBA Power Rankings for March 24th, 2013

chris-bosh-miamiThe biggest story in the NBA remains Miami’s incredible win streak, which is the second best in NBA history. With 25 straight victories, the Heat need just eight more consecutive wins to tie the 1971-72 LA Lakers for the most ever. Miami’s success has overshadowed the fact that the Denver Nuggets have also played excellent with 15 consecutive wins. Thanks to their great run, Denver has climbed over several teams into the Western Conference’s third seed. You can check out how the rest of the league’s top clubs are doing below.

1. Miami Heat (54-14) – The question right now isn’t if the Miami Heat are the NBA’s best team, it’s if they can become the greatest team ever. Doing so will no doubt require topping the 33 straight wins by the Lakers and winning this year’s championship. As for the streak, the next four games are very winnable with Charlotte, Orlando (road), Chicago (road) and New Orleans (road) coming up. On March 25th, the Heat will face off against the Spurs in San Antonio. Assuming they can win the next four contests, this could be the deciding factor in their quest for greatness.

2. San Antonio Spurs (53-16) – San Antonio has certainly remained steady this season and have gone 8-2 in March. However, things look to get a bit hairier over the next five games because they face Houston (road), Denver, the Clippers, Miami and Memphis (road). If San Antonio can win three or four of these contests, they have a good shot at closing out the regular season as Western Conference champions. Greg Popovich has done a great job at keeping his players fresh this year because nobody plays more than 33 MPG. So watch out come playoff time!

ty-lawson3. Denver Nuggets (49-22) – For most of the season, Denver looked like a low playoff seed. However, they’ve now ripped off 15 straight wins and are looking to lock up home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The win streak hasn’t been an easy task either because the Nuggets have had to beat Oklahoma City (twice), the Clippers, the Lakers, Atlanta, New York, Chicago and Memphis along the way. Much like Miami and their hot streak, Denver will face the San Antonio roadblock on March 27th.

4. Oklahoma City Thunder (51-19) – One could make an argument that the Thunder should be ranked ahead of Denver since they’ve consistently won all season – including going 7-3 over the past 10 contests. However, the three losses were against other top Western Conference teams in San Antonio, Memphis and Denver; the Nuggets loss was particularly bad since it was at home. With so many other West teams playing well to close out the season, it’ll be a challenge for Oklahoma City to make the NBA Finals again…but it’s still a realistic possibility.

5. Memphis Grizzlies (47-22) – Memphis doesn’t exactly feature explosive scoring since Zach Randolph leads the team with 15.8 PPG. However, this might be the best defensive club in the NBA since they’re tied with Indiana in holding opponents to a league-low 89.5 PPG. Marc Gasol (1.71 BPG) plays in a big part in this because he swats plenty of shots and alters others. Mike Conley (2.30 SPG) and Tony Allen (1.48 PPG) also do an incredible job of pressuring the ball and forcing teams to make bad decisions.

blake-griffin-clippers6. L.A. Clippers (48-22) – With other teams currently surging in the West, the Clippers have simply been playing above average. This being said, it’s tough to figure out where they fit in when the playoffs roll around. L.A. certainly has the fire power to win in the postseason with Blake Griffin (18.6 PPG), Chris Paul (16.8 PPG) and Jamal Crawford (16.8 PPG). Plus their defense is pretty stout too with the Clippers holding opponents to 94.2 PPG. But the challenge will be putting all of this together through a seven-game series.

7. New York Knicks (42-26) – New York has really been an enigma this year. They began the season with the league’s best record for a while. Then the Knicks started cutting in and out of losing streaks while, subsequently, falling down to the Eastern Conference’s three seed at one point. As of now, they’re riding a four-game winning streak and tied with Indiana for the East’s second seed. Both Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith have been huge since they’re averaging 28.7 PPG and 20.3 PPG over the past four games.

paul-george-pacers8. Indiana Pacers (43-27) – The Pacers are one of the more impressive teams this year when considering that their star, Danny Granger, has only played five games. Granger could be healthy for the playoffs; but if he’s not, Indiana should be fine with Paul George (17.7 PPG), David West (17.3 PPG) and George Hill (14.4 PPG) leading the scoring charge. Roy Hibbert (2.71 BPG) is also proving to be nearly impossible for opponents to shoot over.

9. Brooklyn Nets (40-29) – The Nets are desperately trying to hold onto the fourth seed in the East so they have first round home court advantage. They’re currently in the midst of an eight-game road trip, which should test this team’s mettle. Denver should especially be a tough contest because they’re on fire right now. One players that’s particularly interesting on this team is Reggie Evans, who’s averaging 10.2 RPG in just 23.6 MPG. He’s really been dominant on the boards lately after averaging 16.8 RPG in the past five contests.

10. Atlanta Hawks (39-31) – Atlanta moves back into our top 10 thanks to the demise of Chicago and mediocre play by Golden State over the past few weeks. This month started horribly for the Hawks when they dropped six out of seven games. But things have gotten much better lately with Atlanta winning five out of the last seven contests. The most impressive victories during this stretch include Milwaukee (twice), the Lakers and Brooklyn. Al Horford has definitely been a beast over the last five games with 19.0 PPG and 13.0 PPG.