Playing the Knicks Blame Game - NBC New York

Playing the Knicks Blame Game

With Knicks on the brink, everyone's looking for someone to blame



    Inspiring Stories of Hope
    Sometimes there's nothing left to do but bury your head in your hands.

    No one in the world should be happy about Mariano Rivera's knee injury, but the Knicks are probably a bit closer than most.

    Rivera's injury is the biggest story in town right now, relegating the Knicks to a secondary role on the morning after another humiliating loss to the Heat. There's just one more to go before the season's over and the Knicks would just assume no one pay much attention as they slink off the stage.

    Unless something bad happens to Eli Manning on the "Saturday Night Live" stage, they won't get quite that much of a free pass. The Knicks keep losing playoff games and there will be plenty of people looking to assign blame.

    Here are a few of the top contenders, excluding James Dolan because, really, that's just too easy a target.

    Carmelo Anthony: He's the guy wearing the cloak of leader and that means he's going to take some shots for the ugly way this game ended. Anthony has not played well this series, but it seems more than a bit disingenuous to say that his inability to do it all by himself is the reason for the Knicks' plight when the previous knock on him was his attempt to do it all by himself.

    We said it Thursday night and we'll say again now that the real place for Anthony criticism should be during the regular season when a game or two would have made all the difference for the Knicks in terms of seeding. In this series, though, all we learned is that Anthony isn't a great enough player to overcome a depleted supporting cast and a superior opponent.

    It would be nice if that wasn't the case, but it's hardly something that comes as a great shock.

    Amar'e Stoudemire: It was frustrating/disappointing/sad/insert other word when Stoudemire took himself out of the series with his assault on a fire extinguisher, but how much did it really change the outlook for the Knicks? Maybe it made them a bit less likely to win a game, but it didn't really touch the overall odds on the series.

    Tyson Chandler: The defense wasn't nearly what it should be in the first two games of the series, something that likely had a lot to do with Chandler's flu. Unless he was knowingly consuming cupcakes laced with influenza, it's pretty hard to say that Chandler was responsible for that turn of events.

    Baron Davis: The problem with relying on Baron Davis is that you're relying on Baron Davis. You can't blame him for being who he is, but feel free to cast your eyes up the corporate ladder.

    Mike Woodson: When you're rolling out the likes of Davis, Mike Bibby, Josh Harrellson and a one-legged Jared Jeffries in key moments of a playoff series against the Heat, it becomes hard to summon up much rage about them playing exactly like you'd expect. Having said that, Woodson hasn't figured out a way to make enough adjustments offensively to get the Knicks to compete at a high enough level in these games.

    Does that rise to the level of blame? Not in this book, but it does mean that Woodson's hold on the job is a little looser than it was at the end of the regular season.

    You're probably sensing some kind of a trend here in that no one person is really to blame for the fact that the Knicks are quite likely to extend their NBA record with a 14th straight playoff loss on Sunday that ends their season.

    There comes a point when you just have to accept, however grudgingly, that the Heat are a very good basketball team and the Knicks, as presently constituted, aren't in that class.

    Thursday night eliminated any doubt about that question. For three quarters, every break went in the Knicks' direction and they were unable to really take advantage.

    They couldn't do anything with a more balanced game from the officials, they couldn't do anything even though the Heat weren't making shots and they couldn't do anything to create an advantage when LeBron James sat on the bench for more than seven minutes of the third quarter with four fouls.

    That makes things as black and white as they could be and it takes more than one person to carry the blame for something that's gone as wrong as this series has gone for the Knicks.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.