Detroit

Little Caesar’s Arena

We drove into Detroit and stayed at The Siren hotel. Now that the Detroit venue has moved to Little Caesar’s Arena (from The Palace At Auburn Hills) it is easier to stay in the downtown area and get to the game. There are many hotel options in Detroit. We picked ours based on proximity to the venue and ability to park the car. We ended up using the valet parking, this was entirely due to the weather as we didn’t want to have to move the bags any distance in the cold and snow but we could have easily parked within a couple of blocks of the hotel.

We arrived in Detroit the day before the game because we wanted to explore Detroit. On the first night we went to Cafe D’Mongos Speakeasy. It’s a small bar but the staff, and the regulars, are all really friendly and the cocktails are strong. We also went for dinner in Grand Trunk Pub which is a converted railway station. The have a good sized menu and the portion sizes are also good.

On our full day in Detroit we took a ride on the people mover (Detroit’s monorail). This was mainly for the novelty value but it was a good, cheap way to see Detroit. Importantly it was heated which was really appreciated in February in Detroit. We also went to the Motown Museum. If you are interested in Motown music, this is a must see. Apparently there are building an extension, I felt our tour was really comprehensive so I’m not sure what else they will cover. All tours are guided and I would recommend booking in advance as there isn’t really anything else to do in that area if you just miss a tour time.

Little Caesar’s Arena is on the street car system so you can use that to access the venue or you can walk if your hotel is close enough, as ours was. There are several restaurants on the outskirts of the venue providing a wide range of options. The arena is only about a 10-15 walk from the downtown area so you should also have gone to eat there before or after the game.

As it was Knicks v Pistons we decided to sit a little closer to the front than normal.

Row 4, block 125

I thought these seats were great. We were close to the bench so got to witness the team dynamics but were still able to enjoy the game even when the team all stood up. The seats were comfortable and padded. There is no at seat service so you do have to go to the concessions if you want anything but you would be doing that from any seat.

Jumbotron

The jumbotron lived up to its name, providing clear stats. I liked that the inside of the screens also showed information so that you could see the stats from wherever you were sat.

The 19/20 season Knicks

Spoiler Warning. If you aren’t up to date with the Knicks this season, stop reading.

No seriously stop reading.

Still here? Okay.

The Knicks front office held a press conference following Sunday night’s game. I haven’t been able to see the whole thing but I’ve caught the highlights. They seem to have stopped themselves from suggesting that personnel changes need to be made but already the press are speculating that this could happen during the season.

I still don’t understand why they called the press conference. No-one who was paying attention should have been expecting an amazingly good start to the season for the Knicks. During the off season we didn’t pick up any of the big name free agents but we did bring in several new players. Players that need time to build chemistry and get used to playing together. Making more changes now (to players or coaches) will just introduce more new elements rather than allowing the current elements time to get it together.

Sunday’s game was not a good result. But not the worst result in the NBA this season (for example, the Hornets Celtics game earlier in the weekend had the same score). The Knicks don’t have a great win/loss this season. But they aren’t alone at the bottom of the table. The Golden State Warriors are right beside them with the same win/loss.

So again, why the press conference? Holding a press conference tells me that Steve Mills and Scott Perry are taking this seriously but did they seriously expect anything different? This feels like a way to respond to people who have unrealistic expectations. Perhaps they (Mills and Perry) also have unrealistic expectations.

Do I wish the Knicks were playing better? Yes.

Do I think constantly moaning about it and expecting greatness of them at all times is helpful? No.

Instead of holding these kind of press conferences the Knicks should look at how they deal with the unrealistic expectations and show faith in the team. They should look at building a team culture that results in players wanting to come to New York and help build something positive.

Knicks @ Hawks

Thursday 14 February 

The Knicks decided to gift the fans a win for Valentine’s Day, but the draft lottery predictor now suggests we will get the 5th pick.

I had anticipated that this would be another Knicks loss. The Hawks have a better record this season and in their last game they had beater LBJ and the Lakers. 

The Knicks do have a habit of looking confident at the start of games only to fall asleep somewhere in the 2nd or 3rd so when they took an early lead I didn’t allow myself to get my hopes up. There was 7.33 remaining on the clock in Q101 before the Hawks scored. At home. The Knicks were up by 14. At that point I had some hope of seeing a Knicks win. 

At the end of the first the Knicks still has a 15 point lead. During the second quarter the Knicks did start to slow down as expected.  The sloppy mistakes were creeping in and they ended the period with only a three point cushion. 

The third quarter didn’t start well for the Hawks who got in to foul trouble early with four fouls in the first three minutes. They did manage to keep the score close for a good section of the quarter. However, the Knicks managed to finish the quarter ahead by 11. This was not because the Knicks were playing so well, it had more to do with the mistakes being made by the Hawks.

The Knicks managed to maintain a comfortable lead throughout the forth to bring home the v-day win. It would have been nice if they had managed to do this in fron of the crowd at MSG but the Knicks fans in attendance in Atlanta were definitely happy.

Knicks v Sixers

Wednesday 13 February

Last night at MSG the New York Knicks took on the Philadelphia 76ers. This Knicks team has the franchise record for consecutive losses and they were playing a 76ers team with multiple All Stars. The result was never in doubt. 

As a Knicks fan it’s hard to see the team lose so often, the end result might be a high lottery pick (there is no guarantee of a number one pick) but that feels like a very long way away from now. 

I have a very real concern about player development. Last night’s game showed some moments of great play from Kevin Knox (rookie), Damyean Dotson (rookie) and Dennis Smith Jnr (2nd year). However, the constant losing can’t be good for morale and there is more than enough evidence of sloppy mistakes to make you question how much they are focusing on the fundamentals. 

At times it almost felt that the will to tank was so strong it was effecting the 76ers (many of whom have experience of tanking or ‘trusting the process’ as they euphemistically referred to it). At certain points in the game the most effective element of the Knicks defence was the 76ers offence. The 76ers have talent on the team but the second night of their back-to-back (which started with a loss to the Celtics) seemed to leave them tired and a little bit off their usual form.  

The MSG crowd, that only four nights before had been chanting for Zion, were getting energised by the moments of good offence and good blocks and was really willing the team to finally win a game. 

The Kevin Knox dunk over Ben Simmons is definitely my highlight play of the year and Mitchell Robinson’s double double was encouraging. However, DeAndre Jordan had a poor night (compared to his previous games as a Knick) and Kevin seemed to struggle against the 76ers defence. 

Knicks @ Cavaliers

Monday 11 February 

Another day, another Knicks loss. 

Assuming that both teams would be satisfied with a losing record this season to ensure a good draft pick, which of course both teams are denying, this could have been billed as a must lose game for both teams.  We were not the only Knicks fans in attendance and it was nice to see that others had come out to support the tank.  

The home crowd were vocal in their support of the team, aided by the humungotron and the piped in chants. It was clear that they valued a win and it was only towards the end of the game that I heard some Cavs fans realise that a lose would help them, more than a win, in the draft. 

This game marked Kevin Love’s return from injury – to the delight of the home crowd and supporters of the Knicks tank (which of course they absolutely are not doing). Love was happy to be back on the court and taking charge for the Cavs.  Arguably the best Cavs player of the night was Larry Nance Jr. 

For the Knicks it was another double double for DeAndre Jordan and Kadeen Allen was hot on the bench for 25 points. There was definitely a feeling that the Knicks could win this game especially after a three point shot from Kornet with under a minute to go drawing the Knicks to within one point. The remainder of the final minute went largely scoreless until foul by Allen sent Colin Sexton to the line for two giving the Cavs a three point cushion.

Again, this was a close game and it really looked as though it could go either way until the final twenty seconds or so. There are signs that the Knicks have the talent and ability to win games, making this losing streak even more frustrating.

Kristaps Porzingis

Whether he likes it or not, whether he is ready or not, KP has become the face of the New York Knicks.

Until now there has always been a feeling that KP was willing to be in the background rather than the spotlight. That might have been out of respect for Melo or it might have been because that was where he felt comfortable. We don’t really know which and that’s why this season could be tough for KP.

There are a few things that could have an impact on KP this season

Other players on the team who may feel that they are more deserving of the limelight.

Noah is on a huge contract and under other circumstances could expect to be more of a focal point. However his first season at the Knicks was not spectacular (yes, I know this is an understatement) meaning he has been written off by a lot of fans, and probably media. He will need to be able to be a team player and support KP as he transitions to his new leadership role as any dissection could spread to other players.

Tim Hardaway Jr has returned to the Knicks as an improved player. He should see more minutes and play a more important role than during his last stint but it will be important that he does understand the dynamics of the new look Knicks.

Some of the other younger players may not respond well to the 22 KP becoming the leader of the team. I think it would be impossible not to respect his skill but will they respect him as franchise player and leader?

Increased media attention

KP has received a lot of media attention since draft night but this was softened by the continued focus on Melo and the Melo trade rumours. Now that the media doesn’t have that to talk about, or at least not in New York, they will turn that focus to KP. Ever injury – probably even a paper cut – will be subject to debate and speculation. We have seen this already with multiple reports on his knee injury at training.

Every play will be considered in minute detail and every look he shoots toward a player on his team or another team will be examined for hidden meaning. And of course his off-court activities and use of social media will be under the microscope too.

Okay I’m exaggerating here, but not much.

All the focus, attention and speculation can be tough to deal with and not all NBA players can cope with it.

His own expectations

KP will absolutely have his own idea of how he wants this season to go. He has already predicted he will be an AllStar this season.

If he feels the season, and the results aren’t what he expected this could get into his head and end up causing more issues.

Everyone deals with this kind of thing differently and as long as he has a good support network around him this should hopefully not be too much of an issue.

The fans

I say this as a Knicks fan. Knicks fans can be a tough crowd. They expect wins, the dream of championships and they will be looking with hope and expectation to KP to be the unicorn that brings the championship.

I think this will be the year that the fans really put the pressure on KP and I think he will find crowd reactions at MSG to be different from his previous years.

The Knicks

This is probably the most important. The Knicks organisation have an amazing ability to be Knicksian (in a grasping defeat from the jaws of victory way).

They need to supply KP, ensure he knows he has their faith and make moves to help strengthen the team around him. His doesn’t mean letting him has his own way but it does mean valuing the asset they have.

My biggest worry this season is that the Knicks will not have learned from past lessons and will repeat mistakes such as assuming one man can carry a team to a championship or allowing what should be locker room and back office only conversation become public knowledge. That sort of behaviour damages relationships and leads to players asking to move.

These are not insurmountable issues and some of them are smaller than others but I still have concerns for KP and I hope that support network is strong.

Melo trade

It feels as if there have been rumours that Melo was going to be traded since he joined the New York Knicks in 2011. Even after he signed a new contract in 2014, which included a no trade clause, the rumours continued, in fact they seemed to increase.

Even as a Knicks fan based in the UK, so not necessarily seeing a lot of the New York press coverage, I still heard a lot of these rumours.

In the 2016/17 season this got out of hand, fuelled by the obvious issues between Phil Jackson and Melo.

I am a Melo fan and wanted him to stay in New York but even I reached the point of wishing he would move teams so the rumours would stop. Then this off season it became clear that he wanted to leave and the Knicks did not want to include him in their future planning. Meaning that the trade was inevitable.

Weirdly the rumour mill seemed to quieten during this time. I got to the point where I assumed that Melo was destined to spend the season in an unhappy situation with the Knicks.

From a fan perspective it seemed that a trade was the best outcome. You don’t want a player on the team that doesn’t want to be there and/or a player that management don’t want to utilise.

Then the news finally came through on 23 September. Melo was to be traded to OKC.

I am still sad that Melo has left the Knicks. He clearly wanted to play there and win championships there and as a Knicks fan I never felt he had the pieces around him to make that a reality. However I had reached a point of acceptance so long before the trade happened that I wasn’t overly affected by the announcement.

I think this is probably reflected across many fans as we haven’t seen the outrage or claims of shirt burning that we have seen with other trades and FA signings.

Will moving to OKC get him the ring he so desperately wants?

It’s going to be tough as GSW are still a strong team and Houston have made moves to strengthen as well this season.

Will he make it to All-Star weekend?

Unlikely. He only made it in 2017 because another player was injured. The West has a lot of good players likely to be more popular with fans.

What will happen to the Knicks?

Well they have KP who continues to develop and amaze. Hernangomez shows real promise as a player and Tim Hardaway Jr is back to show the Knicks fans how he has developed while he was away. I am not expecting this to be the year the Knicks win the East and make a deep playoff run (though I would be pleased if they did) but this season should be interesting as we get to know all the new players and how they fit together.