Jeremy is making “figure 8” cuts, great sign of progress

Video footage of Jeremy doing 1 on 1 drill with coach Atkins

If you trace his footstep on the court, it’s not hard to tell as Jeremy goes around the black box and those 2 balls, he’s actually drawing the figure “8” on the floor. This “figure 8” cuts exerts a lot of stress on the knee joint and its soft tissue, which includes the infamous ACL and the meniscus. From all signs, he’s making great progress. Thank you God…and if you’re not too busy, please bless Iman Shumpert, D.Rose, and all others who puts their talent on the line for a living.

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A reminder of what got the Knicks here – “The Rise of Jeremy Lin”

I’ve been holding it back a bit, but things have been going crazy with the Knicks, and maybe it’s time to take a look back to what got them to where they are today. The Knicks have regained their defensive intensity and put away (at least for now) their individual egos aside for the greater good of the team. Just when I’m trying to get over the fact that not having Jeremy ballin’ is good for both his knees AND my productivity (This Jeremy Lin Fever is not going away anytime soon, I tell ya), maybe it’s a good time to return back and reflect a little bit, and think about the real essence, of the so-called Linsanity.

It’s so much more, than just Jeremy Lin.

Get better, Jeremy. We miss you.

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Good players look good when playing well, great players grind it out in the toughest of time

Every time I play a tennis match, especially a single’s match, I play to win. Period. If I my game is on and all the tangibles are clicking, I can probably put my all-around game on display and turn in a very beautiful game.

However, that happens at the very least of time. Ever since I haven’t been training regularly and progressively, I’ve been left with the minimum set of skills (ground strokes, 2nd serve, and a few volleys) required to stay ON the tennis court. Actually, ever since I popped those discs in my spine…it’s been about “the opponent’s weakness” over “my strength.” The lack of practice in the recent years just forces my game plan that much further to “how to frustrate your opponent.” When you’re constantly struggling to find your rhythm, or when you don’t even know what “being in the rhythm” feels like, you evolve to grind it out in the toughest of time.

Here’s Jeremy Lin again. I wrote it before the All-Star break that he was TIRED, so it’s not surprising that he must be feeling like running through an unbreakable wall at the moment. Here’s his stats in the past 10 games and in March

He is clearly in a slump. The situation is not helping either. There’s the new coach, the opponents are centering defensive scheme around him, and his knees are showing signs of overuse. However, he’s not alone, the whole league is battling through the lock-out shorten season, and the winners can always manage to pull through in the end. Go ask the Spurs for reference.

That’s exactly why I was delighted to see Jeremy finishing strong with 16 of 18 points in the 4th quarter against the #1 defensive team 76ers, despite shooting 1-11 for 2 pt through 3 quarters. He was struggling, yet at the same time hustling. People always talk about “never give up” or “die fighting,” because even when you’re scrambling and crumbling, the frustration is there and it’s easy but no excuse to be a step slow or loosening the grip.

On top of that, it’s  just as important to keep your composure with a cool, stone cold killer’s instinct for that moment to come. Jeremy’s 5 reb, 1 stl, 1 blk is there to show. The result? a +8 from his part and a 82-79 victory.

The game was far from pretty. It was rough and scrappy. It was a very tough game, but that’s how great players are born. While Good players look good when playing well, the great players grind it out in the toughest of time.

Way to go, Jeremy. Way to go.

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Farewell, Coach D’Antoni. Stepping into another new chapter, here’s Coach Woodson

Mike D’Antoni resigned. Who else to refer to other than the man himself? While I hate to see cancer prevail, I choose to record his positive memories here…

“It might sound surprising to a skeptical Knicks fan, but just a few weeks ago, this was a phenomenal, dignified place to work. We had a culture that revolved around teamwork, integrity and passing the ball at least three times before blindly heaving from 40 feet… It had something to do with pride and belief and organization. Okay, it also had something to do with random magic from a Havard-educated point guard who was playing for the Erie BayHawks in January. That was nuts. I was just as surprised as you…”

So there it is. D’Antoni was not perfect. He was stubborn in his belief, didn’t understand his players enough (in pre-Lin and current Melo), and didn’t have the gut to punish those (well, the one) who disobeyed the orders. But I still gotta say this with my most sincere attitude “Thank you, Coach D’Antonic, for giving Jeremy that one shot he needed in his NBA career, and for the unconditional support and believe in him.” JLinfan#1 has put it better than anyone could have, so here it is.

In comes Coach Mike Woodson, an old school with a thing or two to say about rookies

“I remember playing for a great coach in Red Holzman… He taught me rookies were to sit, listen and learn. He taught me a valuable lesson way back when. I listened and learned a lot as a rookie.’’

A lot of people, especially the Lin’s fans were furious about his comments.

I really dislike those words, as if Lin hasn’t been listening and learning…He’s been exactly the opposite. Lin has been playing because he’s being asked to play.

However, I’ve always preferred a disciplined coach who emphasizes defense and has zero tolerance for BS. A big reason that D’Antoni had Melonoma metastasized around was because he allowed that to initiate.

I say if Baron Davis flourishes better with the first unit, I would have no problem with him starting over Jeremy. That’s how a fair world should function anyway.

On the other hand, I don’t see Jeremy having problems playing full-court press, hard-nose defense, or passing the ball to the iso guys. For all except for his virtually rookie status or whatever prejudice out there that he can’t control, Jeremy pretty much has all the tools of a pg. So what if the system is changing against Lin? If he’s a survivor than he’ll be fine. There’s only 20 something games left this season, and for Jeremy being Jeremy, he will only continue to grow. So what if he comes off the bench in the future, for the benefit of the team? I don’t think there’s any other way to cover his unique talent anymore.

Well, today’s full-blast game against the Pacers was a good hint of what could had been (or should had been, if the normal cells stay un-transformed), and what could we expect for the future.

That’s right, 31 first half points for the opponent. What about our boy Jeremy?

13-5-5, 3/7 FG, 1-1 3 Pt, 6-6 FT, +17 in 25+ min.

I have absolutely no problem with that kind of stat line. Despite playing on his “6th or 7th system in less than 2 years,” Jeremy is just fine. Praise the Lord!

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Jeremy and Rose squared up, showing flashes of light for the future

I had the opportunity to watch the game against the Bulls. Jeremy AND the Knicks as a whole improved a lot. Had this been a game coming off a win, the momentum probably would had carried them over a victory. oh well.

Right now I have an answer for the question (raised by that Taiwanese journalist lady, no less) why the Knicks are prone to losing to team with a poor record, yet able to squeeze close wins over the above 500 teams: the intensity…see Melo.

You see players like Novak, Jefferies, Jorts, Jeremy, and even JR who are just happy to be on the court and always give their full efforts, while on the other hand Melo would play half-hearted against teams like the Nets, Bucks, or even the Sixers. Yes, he was aggressive on offense and defending his man, but he was very passive on the intangibles, boxing out, help D, diving after loose balls etc. However, when they play teams like Miami, Boston, and the Bulls, Melo becomes all fired up and can’t wait to score 50.

Some positives from this game.

I am starting to believe that Melo AND Lin can play under one system, except it’s at the cost of both players trimming down a bit of their shares. Both Melo and Lin are very good transition offense players, so that’s never gonna be a problem. When Lin plays the PnR with the bigs, Melo could be the secondary option on the perimeter, ready for a catch n shot or penetration. When the play is broken or when Jeremy is doubled teamed, Melo can be that low-post presence; I don’t know where his jumper has gone, but his low-post moves are still very crafty and much better than his perimeter game. This would probably mean Jeremy will be more of a pure facilitator (as in today’s game) over the attacking point-guard we would love him to be, but this is probably the best way for the both to co-exist.

From the way Rose played today, I definitely understand why JLinfan#1 keeps bringing up the comparison; they share VERY SIMILAR characteristics. Rose attacks the paint, units and carries the team, and elevates in big moments. However, I do feel that Lin is the better facilitator, and has that desiring ability to make his teammates better. The former could be due to the way the Bulls setup their offense around Rose, and as for the latter, I actually feel that it’s his fundamentally sound teammates that allow Rose to shine better.

 

Stats of the night: Rebounds: Bulls 56, Knicks 38. Offensive rebounds: Bulls 22, Knicks 9. 

Line-up wise, I don’t like seeing both Amare and Melo on the court at the same time. Same with Novak, they are defensive pylons, not stop signs. Having 4 defensive minded teammates around either one would probably make up for the defensive liability, but two create too big of a gap to fill. For some stretch of the game had either Amare or Melo been replaced by either Jefferies, Shump, or even Harrellson, we would had at least prevented a few of those 22 offensive rebounds from the Bulls, and the whole scenario would had been very different.Come to think about it, that “Linsanity” unit was actually the perfect dose of everything, including Billy Walker (Miss him now?).

As a whole, if fortunately the Knicks ends up with the Bulls in the playoff, which means the Knicks would have finally gel-ed together, I’d be very excited and even anticipate for a 7 game series.

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When the puzzles don’t fit: Jeremy Lin and Carmelo Anthony

So frustrated as the Knicks have reversed themselves back to the pre-Lin days. As this article has pointed out it was the defense that led to that 7 game winning streak (holding the opponent to 93.7 points/100 possessions), the offense has become a problem since Melo’s return.

Jeremy Lin and Carmelo Anthony just don’t fit. They don’t. Their games contradict each other. Jeremy is best when he’s attaching and dishing. Melo? Give me the iso. Jeremy drives and passes to whoever he thinks has the highest probability to to score the basket, including himself. Melo plays and tries whichever way possible to score his basket. When Jeremy has Melo (and Amare to some extend) in his mind, he thinks outside of his natural basketball instinct and tries to get Melo the ball…and then Melo does his iso. WHAT?

Even their attitudes are day and night. Jeremy is one hard-working and competitive athlete. Melo? “It’s fun.”

I’ve had enough. It’s not working. A different system would be needed, or a different line-up, but Mike D’Antoni is as stubborn as he’s ever been. If the Knicks are going down the drain like the Warriors did last season? It’s all right, I ma just rooting for Jeremy.

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Jeremy’s dilemma: to drive or not to drive?

Credit to NYTimes for the nice article, the photo above and the chart below.

As it mentioned in the article, Jeremy’s production has taken a dip since the Knicks have become “one of the deepest team in the East.”

It’s such a dilemma for Lin as a PG now. A reason he strove so well with the blue collar players during his breakout weeks was because of his slashing and penetrating, which led to a lay-up, a dump in the post, a kick-out pass, or a trip to the FT line. Jeremy made those decisions based on his basketball instinct, depending on which option would lead to the highest probability of successful play.
It’s quite a different story now. Jeremy is counted on to distribute more than anything, to the extend I felt he has been looking to pass for the sake of passing, as if he’s returning the favor of his teammates’ commitment for “Lin’s way.”

Like D’Antoni said, it’s a learning curve. Not only Jeremy is learning how to cope and counteract with the opponent, he’s also learning how to play with talents around him. Instead of carrying everything on his shoulder, the way he knows best for his life, he now needs a different approach.

As an athlete myself I know what’s it like to go through those transitions, from being “the do-it-all man” to “the distributor.” Jeremy will need to let his teammates play their game when they are on a roll, and take over when everyone else is shutting down. It’s not easy, but all the great ones get it. MJ was the one man show until the 90s, and he got his rings when he learned to let his teammates shine. Paul Pierce was the one and only Mr. Celtic before KG and Ray joined the team, and on top of that he allowed Rondo to flourish as if it’s Rajon’s team, but when the team needed PP to throw in the dagger, he was there to save the day. It’s not an easy adjustment; mentally all great players are primed to elevate above everyone else, so the mindset change is very challenging. It’s also more difficult to stay within the rhythm without the touches, yet they are expected to turn it on in the most critical moments.

Jeremy has shown his ability to take over a game, a WHOLE game. Now his teammates are different, and so is the challenge. But Jeremy is smart, he’ll get it.

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