Knicks – Hernangomez

The Spaniard is in his second season for the Knicks and seems to be getting reduced playing time. I am not aware of any injury worries so this is clearly a coaching decision.

Hernangomez didn’t have a great EuroBasket experience, which was surprising following his first NBA season in which he played in the Rookie game at All Star weekend and made the All Rookie Team.

I don’t know what was behind his EuroBasket performance (it could have been the difference in coaching, worry about the Knicks given the off season drama or any other reason) or even if that is behind his limited minutes so far this season.

What I do know is that he looks less confident when he does get minutes. He is more hesitant and then over compensates by playing too hard and racking up too many fouls for his playing time.

Hernangomez is a Knicks player with great potential, which can be seen when he plays with confidence. Sometimes sitting a player makes him hungry and he plays much better when he gets on the court, this has definitely worked with Kyle O’Quinn, but sometimes it knocks their confidence and you get a nervous player who can’t make the most of his opportunity.

While this is something that Hernangomez needs to work on but the coaching staff need to be careful to build his confidence and skill so that they don’t waste his potential.

Knicks – Ntilikina

The Knicks’ new Belgian rookie is showing early signs of great promise. He is still getting fairly limited minutes, not surprising as this is his first season, but he is using those minutes to demonstrate heart, hustle and skill.

The main thing he needs now is experience and the only way to get that is more minutes. As the season goes on he will gain experience and he will have some brilliant moments and make some mistakes but that is how we learn.

There is a risk of the crowd, the media and the coaching staff being hard of him for those mistakes but he will learn from them and the coaching staff need to be careful not to cut his playing time unless he is repeatedly making the same mistakes.

OKC

There is a lot of discussion about OKC’s Big Three.

The big three are used to playing iso-ball. They are used to being the go-to player on the team. They are used to being the main guy on the team.
When you put three guys like that on one team you cannot expect them to change overnight.

I have heard people say that they need to want to change. I don’t necessarily believe that they don’t want to change.
These guys are used to how they play and have been playing that way for years. Until now their coaches have been telling them that they are playing the way the coaches want them to.
Expecting them to forgot those habits, forget the way they are used to playing, within one or two games is not realistic. They need time to get used to playing with each other, used to the new style of play.

I admit that they aren’t demonstrating any hint of change but changing habits takes time and doing it under the spotlight of the media does not make it easier.

The coaching team at OKC need to work with the players and find small ways to start changing those habits, building that team spirit. When that starts to happen they way OKC play will start to change.

Knicks – the season so far

The Knicks have not had the start to the season that we may have expected. That’s not to say that they have had the best start but there have been more wins than expected and against some teams we would have predicted loses against.

The main reason for this performance is Kristaps Porzingis who is having the best season of his life. He is putting up some amazing numbers and absolutely showing how much potential he has. However, he cannot keep this up all season. When he missed the game against the Hornets, the Knicks lost. That may have happened even if he had played but without his big numbers the rest of the team had more to do.

Porzingis has a few niggling injuries and has already said that he may need elbow surgery at the end of the season. Playing as hard as he has been so far this season, is only going to aggravate that elbow and potentially mean more games that he has to sit out.

When Carmelo Anthony was at the Knicks the game plan seemed to be getting the ball to Melo and letting him take over the game. That plan did not result in a lot of playoff appearances.

My worry is that keeping to the plan, just swapping Melo for Porzingis, is going to have the same results.

The Knicks team does have potential to be a good team, maybe even a playoff team but they can’t rely on Porzingis to do it all.

I know there will be those who point to the Russel Westbrook last season. I am not trying to suggest that Porzingis is not capable of having an absolute stand out season. But that is not going to result in a playoff run for the Knicks unless the rest of the team improves.

Portland Expo Center

Maine Red Claws

The Maine Red Claws play at the Portland Expo Centre in Portland, Maine. The venue is easy to locate in Portland and is well signposted/advertised outside.

There is a small amount of parking adjacent to the venue and plenty of car parks nearby. The team website suggests a specific nearby car park but we used the lot opposite that car park as it was cheaper.

Seats

The type of seat depends on which section you sit in. The most expensive sections have the best seats. We sat in the section that was $22 a seat and got small hard plastic bleacher type seating but with a small back. The cheaper seats were bleached style and the most expensive seats were the more common hard plastic seat variety.

Concessions

A good range of food and beverages was on offer.

Food – pizza, hot dogs, burgers, pretzels, popcorn, fries

Drinks – soft drinks, water, beer, spirits

It was reasonably priced and we got two cheeseburgers and a Diet Coke for $12.

They had a stall selling team merchandise and, a 50/50 raffle and a stall selling balls for the lobster toss (a competition played during the 4th where you through the balls at a lobster pot and if you get the ball in the pot you win a prize).

Entertainment

They have a dance squad and we had a special half time performance by Bronson Arroyo.

On the way in we were given a magnet featuring the schedule and a programme.

Overall I really liked this venue. The staff were friendly and helpful, it was well laid out and signposted and I was able to enjoy the game.

Maine Red Claws v Erie Bayhawks

The G-league season has only just started (the G-league is the d-league renamed for sponsorship purposes).

This was not my first time seeing Maine but it was my first time at their venue (there is a separate post on the venue).

Maine seemed shaky at the start of each quarter, defending poorly and demonstrating poor shot selection.

However in the first two quarters they managed to fight back and end the quarters only a point behind.

The third quarter was poor for both teams with only five points being scored in total in the first five minutes. The Bayhawks were having the worst of it with five fouls.

Josh Longstaff, recently released from the Knicks, is in his first season as head coach of the Bayhawks. As we were sat behind the bench we were able to witness his coaching style up close. It’s fair to say he hasn’t fully gotten to grips with the differnce in rules between the NBA and the G-league.

At the end of Q3 Maine had the lead and while the final quarter was close they fought hard and kept the lead. The tried and tested technique of playing for fouls did little to help the Bayhawks (who had a worse FTA-M ratio than Maine over the course of the game).

For the most part this was a close game. Being so early in the season most of the players were trying to prove themselves. One stand out for Maine was Trey Davis who made his debut in this game. He showed good knowledge and hussle and was rewarded with game MVP.