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.

Quicken Loans Arena – Cleveland Cavaliers

Getting there

The Quicken Loans Arena is located in downtown Cleveland. If you are staying in that area you can easily walk to the venue. Cleveland has a good bus system if you are not staying downtown. There is parking but there is construction on the ourside of the arena which is restricting access in the areas so public transport or walking will be easier.

The venue

The Quicken Loans Arena, also known as the Q, opened in 1994. As mentioned they are doing work to the outside of the building and I hope those plans extend to the inside. This feels like an older NBA venue but once inside the seating area you can forget that and just focus on the ‘humungotron’.

Seats

Despite the aging feel of the building I really like the seats at the Q. You don’t get a huge amount of space but then find me a NBA venue that does have wide seats. The seats have good padding and support. We were in the upper bowl and had a great view (and we had the humungotron). Looking around it seemed that all seats would have good sight lines. 

Concessions

I was a little surprised  by how few concesession there were, there were a few merch stands and you could buy the usual basketball fare but the selection was more limited than other venues in the NBA.

Atmosphere

We went on a Monday night in earlier Feb to a game that could arguably have been described as a ‘must lose’ game for both teams (assuming that they want a top draft pick) so the venue wasn’t full. I could hear pockets of fans making noise and the hype squads were doing their best but this was not the best venue for atmosphere.

Final tip

Don’t miss the ]opportunity to grab food/drinks on East 4th street.

 

Oracle Arena – Golden State Warriors

Getting there

The venue is in Oakland. If you don’t want to stay in Oakland you should base yourself in San Francisco and take the BART to the game. You get off at Coliseum, take the footbridge and walk around the coliseum. To be honest, you take the BART and follow the crowds. It’s about 45 mins from downtown to the venue (including the walk).

The venue

One of the older venues in the NBA it’s easy to see why the Warriors want to move to new premises. The building is functional but has seen better days.

Seats

Pretty comfortable for such an old venue and the sight lines seem to be good from all sections.

Concessions

This is where the age of the venue can be seen. Although there are fan shops and food stalls there are fewer of each that you would find in other venues meaning that the queues can be much longer than you would expect pre-game.

There is a good range of food and drink available including healthy options

We bought one water and one shock-top beer and paid $20.

Atmosphere

We were at the Spurs @ Warriors game which was sold out so there was a good atmosphere. I know there are plenty of fans who only discovered the Warriors when they started winning championships but there fans at the Oracle are loud and proud of the Warriors.

Final tip

If you are planning a trip to Oracle make it soon as the new venue is scheduled to open in time for the 2019/20 season.

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.

The New York Knicks

I didn’t travel for today’s Pelicans @ Knicks game (New York being a bit too far away to go for one game when I have work tomorrow). As it was a matinee game in New York I was able to watch it live without worrying about lack of sleep.

After last season, any game in which the Knicks play well feels like a prize (yes, I am a Knicks fan). This game was definitely a prize. Following two games where the Knicks narrowly lost it was a real treat to see them win, and to win a home game.

At times they still play like a team expecting to lose but there are many positive signs.

Porzingis is showing real skill in the NBA, his stats this season to date are already better than his stats for last season when he was playing in Spain. His foul count has been high in some games but in the last few he has been working on that as

Melo is actually showing that he can play defence. There have been some great blocks and steals from him this season and tonight was no exception. His offence is, usually, not in question but defence was not previously a strong point. It’s impressive to see that he has been working on this and it seem to be making a difference in the team as a whole.

Williams has amazing energy and a great basketball mind. As do Grant and Galloway.

Calderon is playing much better this season than last season, though since the team was tanking last season it’s difficult to know how much was simply poor play and how much was deliberate.

It’s still early, and I’ve been a Knicks fan long enough not to except a playoff making season but it does seem that the Knicks have the right pieces to build on. Finally.

Boston Celtics v Olympia Milano

  
  
 Both teams seemed a little sluggish to start with, displaying some sloppy fouls and poor shot selection. Milan’s free throw percentage seemed low, but to be fair I don’t think Boston’s was much higher in the first quarter. The Celtics ended the first with 14 point and looked pretty comfortable.The second quarter started slowly for both teams. In the first 3 minutes Milan scored 2 points and the Celtics did not score.

The Celtics woke up though and managed to end the quarter with a 17 point lead.

Milan had a great start to q3, they brought the difference back to 10 points within the first 3 minutes. Then they let the Celtics go on a bit of a run, while increasing their foul count. The Celtics ended q3 with an 28 point lead.

The final quarter was not the most exciting 12 minutes of basketball I have ever watched. A number of the fans seemed to agree and started to leave early. In the final two minutes of the game a significant number of the attendees had left.

It was obvious that the Celtics were going to win, and had been for a while but it struck me as odd that so many people left early, the tickets were not exactly cheap.

There was not much cheering at the game – the expected applause for a good play or dunk but no chants of defence or chants for the local team. There was a definite feeling that people were there for the show rather than to support a particular team, or maybe the Italians are just more subdued at basketball than any other nation I have been to.

The Entertainment was standard NBA fare – cheerleaders, t-shirt give aways and mascots.