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Wednesday, April 27, 2011
D'Antoni failed to adjust game strategy
By PETER VECSEY
Special to The Japan Times
NEW YORK — Given the physical and emotional condition of Carmelo Anthony and the Inferiors coming into Game 3, was there really any doubt Knicks fans would wake up with tears on their pillows and pain in their hearts?
Given the results in the first two games, every time Doc Rivers had a time out to strategize, it's scarcely startling what the Celtics accomplished in two practices and lots of chalk talk leading up to Frightful Friday's crucifixion.
Given that Mike D'Antoni was unsuspecting in each critical situation, it's hardly unexpected the Knicks were unprepared for their opponents' amended coverage of Anthony or clusters of shields that sprung Ray Allen and Paul Pierce for a glut of uncontested 3-balls.
D'Antoni could deal this or he could deal with that.
He could deal with the Knicks' offense or he could deal with their defense.
He could devise tactics to put Anthony in more advantageous positions to score against predictable double teams or he could rustle up techniques to clamp down on Boston's marksmen.
He could cut Rajon Rondo off at the pass or make him a shooter.
He could deal with this or he could deal with that.
Do. Da. Dippity.
D'Antoni did none of the above.
If nothing else, say this much for D'Antoni, he is consistent. He had no answers during the game and he had no answers after it.
Granted, Chauncey Billups was out of service. Granted, Amare Stoudemire's body was inflexible; so why hurt the team by pretending he's able to play, as if the Celtics were fooled by his early bravado?
And, no affront to the competitiveness of the Inferiors who cannot be expected to give what little they have got.
Still, considering the Celtics many question marks and vulnerabilities, for them to commandeer control coming out of the locker room — 9-0 and 22-5 to start; 25-12 to begin the second half — shrieks "no adjustments" and that's overtly the fault of the coach.
"I've never seen a guy with such a highly regarded reputation do nothing," e-mailed a team executive during the game.
No, it wasn't Donnie Walsh.
Instead of benching the bulk of the first unit after falling behind early, D'Antoni kept it mostly intact far too long. Worst of all, he stayed with Stoudemire as if the game could be won then and there.
So, later on when it mattered, Amare already had broken down.
Cutting the deficit to eight by intermission gave the Knicks false hope and Rivers time to correct problems that surfaced late. D'Antoni should have shaken up his lineup (Shawn Williams or Bill Walker replacing Landry Fields, for sure) to counteract revisions you had to figure would occur and possibly catch the Celtics by surprise, perish the outlandish notion.
Yeah, once the Celtics got past the trauma of almost losing their two home games, and regained their wits enough to concentrate on exploiting the Knicks' numerous defects the series' outcome was definitely decided. That went without saying.
We all understood the dimensions and the magnitude of the impediments the Knicks needed to overcome to compete for 48 minutes, much less shoplift a victory. But essentially D'Antoni did nothing creative other than transforming Melo into a pointless guard by simultaneously removing Anthony Carter and Toney Douglas, who sees the rim and not the court.
I take that back; D'Antoni did try utilizing a zone to combat Rondo's trespassing and hold him to below a triple-double, as well as keep a hand in the faces of Allen and Pierce. The tardy brainstorm failed miserably.
The Knicks never honestly challenged the Celtics. They showed up slack at tipoff like the Heat did in Game 3 against the 76ers, as if they owned a 2-0 lead.
The difference, of course, is that the Heat can lock down defensively when pushed or embarrassed.
The Knicks never obliged Allen to play defense. His legs were as bouncy at the end as they were at its outset. The same was true with Rondo who wasn't forced to stop anybody for more than a possession or two.
Consequently, the offensively-challenged Celtics had their way from all angles and area codes, filling up the stat sheet like those locked-out NFL players are filling up rap sheets.
* * *
Speaking of stupidity, Jamal Crawford felt his Game 3-clinching three with Jameer Nelson obstructing his view was a good shot.
Coach Larry Drew was "hoping" Crawford, up one, would take it to the hoop.
Who is in charge of the Hawks, anyway?
Clearly, Crawford never dreamed of exercising such a rational option or giving it to Joe Johnson to his left. He said rocking straight up 8 meters from the rim is his "sweet spot."
That may be, but we know for sure what part of his anatomy is a dead zone.
The moment Crawford hoisted away, hit or miss, I would've fined him as much as the CBA permits.
Much as I hate to admit it, Stan Van Gundy was correct when he intimated Dwight Howard would be wise, so to speak, to join Stupidity Anonymous.
Please tell us you were acting, Dwight, when you expressed disbelief after getting teed up for instigating the Zaza Pachulia-Jason Richardson meeting of the minds.
Howard got off easy. He should have been ejected, too, if not suspended, like those two, for following through with his customary sneaky forearm to the head and shoulder area when Zaza fouled him.
Peter Vecsey covers the NBA for the New York Post.