Circle of sports: One season ends, another begins. Generally this happens with sports of different seasons though; tonight, there is a chance two fall-spring sports could see a divergence with their teams.
Yes, the Knicks and Rangers are heading two different ways – one looks to capitalize on it, one looks to reclaim what it once had before it’s too late.
The Knicks, since J.R. Smith’s elbowing suspension of Game 3 of the Conference Quarterfinals, have been a disaster – they have gone away from their small-ball gameplan and have been incompetent at anything they did well this year.
Barely better than the first round, Carmelo Anthony is left standing as the only credible offensive threat the Knicks have. Tyson Chandler, offensively, and most importantly defensively, has fallen apart. Amare Stoudemire cannot play enough minutes and now Iman Shumpert’s knee is injured again. Pablo Prigioni and Chris Copeland, as sure as an alliteration, have been irrationally stuck on the bench. Jason Kidd has proven to have less left than dinosaur fossils.
Mike Woodson has been outcoached and drowning so far this series, unable to counter Pacers coach, Frank Vogel’s front court moves.
They face an elimination Game 5 at MSG, where the Pacers could eliminate them and put themselves in the East Finals against the Miami Heat. The Knickerbocker’s only chance is a return to what they did best – grind it out underneath with Melo and “Live Three and Die Hard”. If they continue to play into Indiana’s game, it will be over just as fast as this series started.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Rangers are finally playing up to their pre-season potential.
Coming off back to back shutouts by Vezina Award winner, Henrik Lundqvist, the offense finally came together, blasting the Capitals for 5 goals in the series finale. The Stanley Cup favorite coming into the season, the Rangers were inconsistent for most of the season, but have regained some of their swagger, taking 4 of the last 5 games of the series.
Still on the back of a milk carton is Rick Nash, the major trade acquisition of the season for the Blueshirts. If he and the power-play fail to show up, this may be a rough series against their big and tough opponents. Without Ryane Clowe and Marc Staal, they are going to need all the toughness they can get to go with the goaltending and hot shooting they have already.
They will take on the Bruins in Boston, starting a series for the right to be in the NHL’s final four.
Will tonight be a night of glory for the MSG tenants, a double-dose of losses, or just a continuing of trends? Hopefully after the two games, we still have two seasons remaining with positive hope.