Blazer Banter

The Scouting Report: New York Knicks

AP Photo/Jason DeCrow

AP Photo/Jason DeCrow

Projected starting line-up: Raymond Felton, Pablo Prigioni, Iman Shumpert, Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler

The buzz out of New York is that the starting point guard of the Knicks isn’t playing up to the level he needs to for the home team to be successful.

It wasn’t too long ago that fans of the Portland Trail Blazers read many of the same things in their own newspapers about the play of one Raymond Bernard Felton Jr.

The Knicks are apparently getting their own front-row seat for what some fans call “The Feltdown.”

Whether the blame for New York’s back-to-back losses–the first by 15 to the Miami Heat and the second on the road to the NBA-worst Milwaukee Bucks–being solely on Felton is fair or not is another question.

It’s not. Just as all things in basketball, there are lots of things going on that cause teams to win or lose. Felton’s play hasn’t been great, but it certainly isn’t the only reason they’ve lost two in a row.

Their back-to-back losses coming into Wednesday’s match-up against the Blazers have interrupted an otherwise good stretch of play for the Knickerbockers.

Ever since Andrea Bargniani tore the UCL in his left elbow–which came one day before Carmelo Anthony set a Madison Square Garden record of 62 points–the Knicks have had the second-best offense in the league during that six-game stretch.

Mike Woodson has gone to playing line-ups with two point guards–something many Knicks fans and analysts had been demanding since they struggled early in the season–and that’s been successful.

The Knicks have gone small and are trying to rekindle some of the smallball magic that won them 54 games a year ago. They’ve still had their struggles on the defensive end, but the fact that they’ve taken their scoring to elite levels is a positive development for a team that hadn’t been doing either well early in the season.

However, things have taken a turn after being whooped at home by the Heat and losing on the road against the lowly Bucks. The Knicks defense has been letting them down and Milwaukee’s Brandon Knight outplayed Felton badly on Monday, with the coup de grace being Knight hitting a game-winning three over Felton.

Felton is receiving the brunt of the blame–fair or not–and hasn’t spoken to the media since the loss to Milwaukee and after the team practiced on Tuesday.

Wednesday the drama culminates with Felton playing against his former team, matching him up against the point guard who replaced him–who was just named an NBA All-Star, a designation Felton has never received–Portland’s Damian Lillard.

Offensively, they played as they have been during the recent stretch with efficient three-point shooting and low turnovers at a slow pace. The Knicks have been increasing Amar’e Stoudemire’s role after sitting out seven games and he could see more minutes against the Blazers on Wednesday.

The Knicks are going to try and beat the Blazers with Anthony, taking good care of the ball, shooting the threes and having Chandler try and clean up everybody’s mess inside.

The Blazers offense has been bottled up as of late and should find some relief against a Knicks squad weak on the defensive end outside of Chandler. Felton isn’t very quick, Prigioni is savvy and is good at forcing steals and Iman Shumpert is athletic but probably overrated as a defensive stopper.

The Blazers offense has hit a rough patch as of late and they’ve been the 25th ranked offense over the last five games as they’ve faced good defensive teams as of late.

The Knicks defense should be an elixir for the struggling Portland offense, but Portland better bring their defense against a unit that’s been scoring much better as of late.

 

Erik Gundersen

Erik Gundersen is the Trail Blazers beat reporter for The Columbian. He's a graduate of the Allen School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon in addition earning a degree in Spanish. He started writing about NBA Basketball for SwishScout.com before being the Sports Reporter Intern for TrailBlazers.com. He also fist-bumped with Kanye West once. Follow @BlazerBanter on twitter for more Blazers and NBA news.

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