By Jack Maidment
The NBA’s three biggest teams are in big trouble right now.
New York Knicks. Boston Celtics. Los Angeles Lakers. All united in history by similar levels of success, prestige and expectation, but most recently bound together by a seemingly irrevocable slide into oblivion.
The Knicks, them of the ‘obvious’ championship calibre, are currently mired in a six game losing streak and their saviour Carmelo Anthony is being booed every time he gets the ball.
The Lakers have lost their last three and have a 1-6 record on the road.
The Celtics are at 6-9, a miserable 4-6 in their last 10, with half of their wins coming against the woeful Washington Wizards.
So what the hell is wrong with the NBA’s Big Three?
For the Knicks it’s all about the offense, even if that does fly in the face of every winning mantra ever given air time by a coach.
I have watched the Knicks play more than any other team this season and I can safely say they play terrible basketball. Car crash basketball.
And yet. The pieces look so enticing. It’s Carmelo! And Amare! And Mike D’Antoni’s offense! In the Garden!
But it just doesn’t work. And the idea that Baron Davis will swoop in and fix all of New York’s problems is absurd.
The only way the Knicks get fixed is if Carmelo buys in to a system that involves him passing. That’s it and all about it.
When he is selfish with the ball the Knicks struggle, particularly Amare Stoudemire, who is looking more and more like the forgotten man in fourth quarters.
When they pass the pall they actually look like an okay team: Nothing was more telling last week than when Carmelo left the game against Phoenix in the third and the Knicks moved the ball and played their best basketball of the night. No kidding.
But passing is a rarity in New York this season with the Knicks in the bottom five in the league for assists at a measly 18 a game.
Until that changes, and Baron will help, the boos will continue to rain down in MSG. But the Knicks will be back this year, of that I am sure.
I’m not sure the same can be said of the Celtics or Lakers.
The Celts’ problems lie in rebounding the ball and a severe lack of depth. Boston is the second worst team on the boards in the NBA this season, pulling down a paltry 38 a game, and its bench is absolutely awful. Look.
Combine that with an offense scoring 89 a game (26th overall in the NBA) and an over-reliance on Rajon Rondo and the Celtics are praying for the 8th seed in the East.
Such an aspiration is shared by the Lakers right now as they wallow in 10th place in the West having scored more than 100 points in a game just once this season. After 18 games.
Oh, and their starting point guard is averaging 5-2 a game. And shoots .241 from three. And their bench has exactly zero scorers. And they traded Lamar Odom for a second round pick.
After four years of Celtic Laker dominance it feels strange to think of them as 8th seeds. And despite their refurbishment the Knicks continue to struggle to shake off their immediate past.
But that’s where we are. Tough times are ahead for all three of these teams.