Should Amar’e Stoudemire Play More?

We all know how good Amar’e Stoudemire once was, but now he is constantly battling injury and struggling to stay on the floor for long stretches of time. Now he says he is fully healthy and has asked Knicks coach Mike Woodson for more minutes.

Stoudemire was asked about how his minutes limitations would affect the Knicks chances of making the playoffs, his response:

“From a doctor’s standpoint, there hasn’t been limitations since the first week of the season, so we can’t keep saying limitations — that’s a coach’s decision at the end of the day,” Amar’e Stoudemire via ESPNNewYork.

The question now is, should Stoudemire be playing more? Stoudemire has played in 35 of the Knicks 48 games on the year and is averaging 9.3 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. These aren’t mind-blowing stats, but keep in mind he only plays 18.9 minutes per game. Per 48 minutes, Stoudemire averages 23 and 10, and even over 28 minutes he would average 13.7 and 6.2 rebounds. These numbers aren’t that bad, and he also has the fourth highest player efficiency rating on the Knicks (16.5).

Jan 9, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks power forward Amar

Stoudemire’s per 48 minute averages are pretty good compared to his teammates’ as well, ranking fourth in rebounds and third in points. His 9.3 points are good enough for fifth on the team in only 18.9 minutes, so his production hasn’t been a problem in the minutes he has played. His defense, however, isn’t as good as it used to be.

Stoudemire has also played very well when he actually gets a lot of minutes. In a three game stretch from December 10th-13th, he played 27 minutes in the first game and 30 in the last two. He averaged 15.7 points and 6.3 rebounds on 70 percent shooting from the field in that stretch.

In my opinion, I say why not give the guy a chance with more minutes. He hasn’t been that bad so far this year, and with Andrea Bargnani out and Kenyon Martin constantly battling injuries I think he definitely deserves a shot. Jeremy Tyler has also been playing well in the small amount of minutes he has been getting, so maybe he deserves a shot as well. He averages 21 points and 13 rebounds per 48 minutes and has the second highest player efficiency rating on the team. I think that the Knicks are struggling, so why not try giving these guys more minutes? Maybe it will work out in their favor.


Taking My Talents….Home!


The Miami Heat’s failure to capitalize on its first shot at an NBA Championship, with their “Big 3,” in place, will undoubtedly go down as one of the biggest disappointments in Sports History.  It’s not the fact that a team so top-heavy in talent can lose a series; it’s what happened prior to this point, that’s the problem.  This series wasn’t about what Dallas Accomplished, but more about what Miami failed to Accomplish.  The series wasn’t about the dynamic leadership displayed by Dirk Nowitzki, but the lack of leadership by LeBron James.  All of these things are magnified due to the brash and very bold statements made by James, starting with “The Decision.”

The Decision

James’ announcement of his choice of team via Television Special, followed by a proclamation of at least 7 Championships, ultimately set the Heat up for failure.  James was so confident in the team’s ability to succeed, that he hinted at victories even if Pat Riley was the team’s starting Point Guard.  With a team this talented, who’s going to argue LeBron’s statements?  I for one saw the Heat as a dead-lock for the Finals, which was correct.  I initially picked them to lose the Finals versus the Lakers, but uhh…We saw how that turned out for “Showtime!”  Once the Lakers were ousted, I didn’t see anyone standing in the way of Miami’s Destiny.  As a team, they entered the playoffs clicking on all cylinders, and even watched LeBron mature as a player through the first 3 series.  But then came the Big Stage…(Here’s where you insert for favorite sad face : ( perplexed style : / or the highly emotional crying face (,-__-,)


James basically disappeared in the Finals, averaging 18pts, 7ast, & 7reb!!! LeBron is a former NBA Scoring Champ, and averaged 18 ppg!  Let’s also note that James averaged 21ppg as a ROOKIE!  Now, not taking anything away from his overall playoff performance, because he is the reason Miami got to the Finals.  James was playing like a man possessed in the first 3 rounds, and hit some huge shots in both the Boston and Chicago Series’.  You can argue that it’s a team game, and all of the blame can’t be placed on James, which is correct.  However, LeBron’s actions coinciding with his talents are what create the enormous bulls-eye on his back.   He also doesn’t help the scrutiny by his comments, and almost nonchalant attitude at press conferences.  Again this is a team game, but the team itself doesn’t share in the talking aspect, which James excels in.  If you go back to the introduction of “The Heatles,” it was LeBron who did the most talking, and predicting on behalf of the Heat.  Look at it like this…Muhammad Ali was known for his trash talk before, and during, some of the biggest fights of his life.  While Ali didn’t have an unblemished record, he always came back to avenge a loss, thus backing his proclamations.  LeBron doesn’t have a history of closing games, playing to his full potential, nor being the leader that the “Face of the NBA,” should; but talks as if this isn’t the case.  If LeBron showed a little more humility, I don’t believe the backlash would be to this unbelievable level.


So What Exactly Happened?

Aside from LeBron’s shortcomings in the Finals, what else seemed to go wrong for Miami, that didn’t for Dallas?  Let’s start with Miami’s consistency outside of its core.  The bench play was much uninspired throughout the series, while Dallas had its role players contribute on a nightly basis.  But despite the poor role playing on behalf of the Heat, they controlled this entire series.  Splitting the first 4 games, could have easily been a 4-0 Miami Sweep.  Dallas turned the Heat into a jump shooting team, and prevented them from attacking the paint, which is their
strong suit.  Along with Dallas’ defensive adjustment, was Dirk’s relentlessness as a leader.  There wasn’t a moment in this series that Dirk wasn’t in attack mode.  This same thing can be said about Dwayne Wade, who played his heart out throughout the series, and if not for injury, wouldn’t have let up.  If you take each team at 100% attack mode, the Heat should win out every time.  My reasoning is simple; Dwayne Wade and LeBron James excel on BOTH sides of the court, which is a headache for every team in the league.  I fully believe that if LeBron guarded Nowitzki for the entire series, and Wade on either Terry or Barrea (depending on who’s in the game), I don’t see Miami losing this series at all.  This tactic then forces other players to beat you, who aren’t as offensively gifted as the aforementioned Nowitzki, Terry or Barrea.

I also believe that the Heat lost some faith in the process at some point.  Squandering big leads in games they controlled from the beginning, is inexcusable.  The team got extremely passive during the final moments of Game 6, and the stars of the team almost seemed to defer to its role players.  A play that replay’s endlessly in my mind, is the Chalmers turnover under the basket.  With 3 players making over 100 million dollars each, and have the ball in Mario Chalmers’ hands in crucial parts of the game in ridiculous!  I just don’t see the team letting up if Pat Riley is who you have to face when you come off the floor, versus Erik Spolestra.  While Spolestra did improve as the season went on, I think his lack of big game experience is what ultimately did him in.  But again, the coaches aren’t the ones who perform on the floor…it’s the players!


The Fallout

While the Heat are the early favorite to win next year’s Title, something has to change.  With 7 players as unrestricted free agents, 3 will likely return with their player options (House, Jones & Illgauskas).  Mario Chalmers is the team’s lone restricted free agent, and has already been rumored to be receiving a qualifying offer from Miami.  Two things that need to change are the team’s ability to score off the bench, along with the team’s interior defense.  When your Shooting Guard is blocking as many, or more, shots than your big’s…There’s a problem!  But not only does the interior defense need to improve, but the overall toughness of the team.  As it stands, it seems as though when Wade isn’t at 100%, the team loses its heart and backbone.  If Miami is lucky enough, there are a few players that I feel could be added at a bargain price to aid in the team’s improvement.  Perimeter Players – Tracey McGrady, Tayshaun Prince, Al Thornton, Michael Redd, T.J. Ford, Shane Battier, Andrei Kirilenko, and Josh Howard.  Interior Players – Kenyon Martin, Samuel Dalembert, Chuck Hayes, Craig Smith, Chris Wilcox, Boris Diaw, Troy Murphy, and Etan Thomas.  While these are all unrestricted free agents that are all possibilities for the Heat, bigger players like Jason Richardson, Jamal Crawford, Nene, and J.R. Smith, are all likely to command too high of a price tag on the market.  Players like Redd, Prince, Ford, Battier, Kirilenko, Martin and Dalembert, would dramatically improve the Heat’s overall roster.  Dalembert provides added shot blocking, along with Martin, who also would be an enforcer that the Heat desperately need.  Battier, Prince and Kirilenko provide length, and solid perimeter defense, as they can defend several positions on the court.  TJ Ford would be a tremendous upgrade at the Point Guard position, while Redd provides more scoring ability off the bench to go along with Mike Miller & James Jones.  Players like McGrady, Josh Howard and Michael Redd are all very injury prone players, but can be very serviceable if their health/minutes are preserved for a playoff run.


Along with these changes, I have a strong feeling that Pat Riley will step in as the new coach.  Riley worked too hard to put this team together, to see them fail.  Riley is often linked with the great Phil Jackson, as they not only were great coaches, but managed some of the game’s biggest personalities.  Riley has the pedigree to get the most out of this Heat team, and surely would not have allowed them to relinquish those late game leads.  Look for major changes in South Beach, which will result in Miami’s hoisting of the Championship Trophy.  The only thing that could prevent a title run from happening, are another implosion by the team itself, but if Pat is patrolling the sideline, I wouldn’t bet on it!



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Game of the Day: April 13

Denver Nuggets at Phoenix Suns — 10:30 PM eastern, telecast on TNT

With only two days left in the regular season, the playoff race out west is only getting more exciting. Only one-and-a-half games separate second from fifth place, and these two teams are in the thick of it.

Both the Nuggets and Suns come in having won their last games, and they’ve both been hot of late. The Nuggets are 7-3 in their last ten, and the Suns one-up them at 8-2.

Denver features, of course, Carmelo at the 3-spot along with Chauncey Billups. Kenyon Martin will play in his third game back from injury, but it is yet unclear whether he will be in the starting lineup. If he is not, Johan Petro will, once again, fill in for him there.

The Suns bring in a deep team, led, of course, by Steve Nash and a resurgent Amar’e Stoudemire — who has been lighting up the league since the all-star break. Once again, center Robin Lopez will not play, and his status for the playoffs remains undetermined.

The Suns have taken two of the previous three against the Nuggets by a combined 28 points, despite Stoudemire’s being held to 20 point or fewer in both contests. The strong front-court defense of Martin and Nene was surely responsible for that.

Nevertheless, Denver needs to apply its toughness across the board to subdue Phoenix’s relentless offense and come away with the W. If Steve Nash is allowed to get in to a rhythm and take over, forget about it.

I think the Suns will win this one. They have the momentum of having won the two most recent matchups with the Nuggets, and Denver has seemed to play less inspired basketball with Adrian Dantley on the sidelines rather than George Karl.

If Phoenix does manage a win, that could make things very interesting as far as seedings go in the Western Conference, as the boys from Arizona would move one game ahead of the Nuggets, and all they’d have to do is win on Wednesday to keep hold of the advantage over Denver, as tomorrow will be the Nuggets’ final game.

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Game of the Day: March 29

Denver Nuggets at Dallas Mavericks — 8:30 PM eastern, telecast on NBA TV

This should be a good one. The two teams  jockeying for second-place position in the Western conference square off Monday in what could very well be a preview of a postseason series.

Neither team has been playing its best of lately. The Mavs are 6-4 in their last 10 and have been blown out by two lottery teams in the New York Knicks and New Orleans Hornets during that stretch. The Nuggets, 5-5 in their last 10, have also lost to the Knicks. Otherwise, their losses during that stretch have been to playoff teams and Houston, which has a remote shot.

The Mavericks are considered by many to be the only team capable of dethroning the Lakers before the NBA Finals after their deadline trade for Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood.

But beating the Nuggets requires stopping Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups.

Shawn Marion will draw the assignment on Melo, who has been held to under 20 points in both games against the Mavericks this season. Billups has played in only one game against Dallas this season, scoring 6 points on 6-of-8 shooting.

Up front, the Mavericks will get a break with Kenyon Martin out injured for Denver, so Dirk Nowitzki will be able to minimize effort on defense against the non-threat Johan Petro.

Off the bench, expect Jason Terry and J.R. Smith to put up a handful of points. Don’t be surprised if Rodrigue Beaubois does, too, coming off a 40-point performance against the Warriors last night.

The teams have split their series thus far, and I think the Mavericks emerge victorious in this one. Nowitzki should play heavy minutes and put up a lot of points, but Dallas’s defense is what should do the trick. Haywood should have handle on Nene at center, and Jason Kidd can still play decent enough defense to prevent Billups from going off.

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Game of the Day: March 24

Denver Nuggets at Boston Celtics — 7 PM eastern, telecast on ESPN

Well, I recommended Pacers-Pistons for you last night, suggesting it would be the closest of the four games, and it turned out to be the most lopsided of the four. To boot, my prediction of the winner was wrong.

Tonight, I’m torn among three games: the one I selected, the Magic-Hawks, and Spurs-Lakers.  Here’s why I picked the Nuggets-Celtics. While the other two are intraconference bouts, I love the matchup between the Nuggets-Celtics. Every position has something fun to watch. At point guard, sharpshooter and playmaker Chauncey Billups goes at it against the defensively gifted Rajon Rondo, who’s arguably an even better playmaker. At the 3, you have Paul Pierce and Carmelo Anthony — two of the best scorers in the league at the small-forward position. At power forward, Kevin Garnett and Kenyon Martin will play tough defense on each other and put up 10 to 15 points each, and at center, Kendrick Perkins and Nene will bring the pain down low.

Furthermore, both these teams need this game. The Celtics can’t afford to lose any more at home (having lost only one fewer game at the Garden than on the road), and the Nuggets need a win to pace the Mavericks and maintain sole possession of second place in the West.

I peg the Nuggets to come away with the W in this one. Expect a standout performance from Melo, as I wouldn’t be surprised if Pierce tries to conserve most of his energy for the offensive end. Furthermore, look for Ray Allen to have a poor shooting night. Aaron Afflalo is a great on-ball defender and shoot give Allen some trouble on the jumper with his quickness and length.

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