The Knicks failed to make the playoffs and we could have seen it coming

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knicks_suck“Nobody was expecting this,” Knicks head coach Mike Woodson said of his team missing the playoffs for the first time since 2010.

“At the beginning of the season, nobody ever thought we’d be in this situation, in this position that we’re in right now,” said star forward Carmelo Anthony, who will not play in the postseason for the first time in his 11 year career. After coming into last year’s postseason as the second seed in the Eastern Conference, the New York Knicks are a lottery team. But to say no one was expecting this outcome would be a lie.

On Oct. 15 of last year, practically six months ago to the day, ESPN’s computer-based, analytics driven computer projection system called SCHOENE predicted that the Knicks would finish the season 37-45. Their current record after 80 games? 35-45 and eliminated from the playoff race.

In explaining why the SCHONE projections had the Knicks faring so poorly, two of the reasons Kevin Pelton gave were the team’s projected 3-point outage and the aging roster. Both proved true to an extent, as you’ll see later in this column.

Six months ago, the team’s response to this prediction was typically and naturally bombastic.

“Sometimes there’s glitches in the computer,’’ Anthony said on Oct. 16. “That’s all I can say.’’

WoodsonWoodson took it even further, asking if the computer model is the one that plays. “It’s a computer system. I don’t think computers run up and down the floor,” Woodson said. “You still have to play the game, guys. I don’t get caught up in that. I don’t have any control over the computers. The only thing I can control is our team and how we play.’’

Half a year later, Woodson and Anthony were singing different tunes about how their season turned so sour.

Nowitzki, Conley, Dragic, Stoudemire key for NBA Teams Chasing Final Playoff Spots

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With one week left in the NBA regular season, the pressure is on for two Eastern Conference teams and four Western Conference teams fighting for the final playoff spots. Millions will intently watch what transpires over the next seven days as teams face must-win games, and the effort and intensity pick up.

Each of these half-dozen teams have a player who will greatly impact the fate of their clubs the rest of the way.

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Sprung: Jeremy Lin won’t cut it for Rockets with Patrick Beverley out

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JeremyLinSH1Dwight Howard, James Harden and Chandler Parsons are the big-name players, but the Houston Rockets would not be a top-four team in the Western Conference without Patrick Beverley.

Houston is 36-16 when Patrick Beverley starts, but they will miss him for at least two weeks (and likely for the duration of the regular season) with a torn meniscus. His replacement is one Jeremy Lin.

You remember him, right?

Even if Beverley doesn’t have the best offensive and defensive numbers, it doesn’t seem likely that Lin has the skill set to adequately replace what Beverley does for this team.

“Obviously we’re going to miss Pat’s defensive intensity and passion and the energy he brings every single possession,” Parsons told SheridanHoops.

Sprung: A Statistical Look Inside The 2014 Sweet 16

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ncaaAs it often does, the NCAA Tournament provided a wild first weekend.

Mercer saved Warren Buffett $1 billion, Dayton won the state of Ohio and reached the Sweet 16 for the first time in 30 years, Stanford sent Andrew Wiggins and Kansas packing, and the young Kentucky Wildcats ended Wichita State’s dream season.

So out of the 32 second and third-round games won by the 16 teams still in contention for the national championship, what statistical trends and insights can we gain from looking back at what the successful teams did to reach this point?

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Goran Dragic: Creative, energetic, unafraid and the savior of the Phoenix Suns’ season

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PHX_Dragic_GoranGoran Dragic slashes, drives and penetrates into the lane like no other NBA player, creatively opening up space to create for himself and his Phoenix Suns teammates. That creativity, though, comes with a heavy price: the beating he takes on a nightly basis as he hurtles into and bounces around defenders with his breathtakingly fun to watch forays towards the basket which sweep opponents and fans alike off their feet like a swift and strong gust of wind.

Dragic’s offensive game is so unique stylistically, but this year he’s coupled his singular energy and fervor with the efficiency both Dragic and his Suns have lacked. For any ball-handler to shoot over 50 percent from the field and nearly 42 percent from three is impressive. For Dragic to do so with his number of minutes and a usage rate, especially when guard Eric Bledsoe was injured, makes him one of the NBA’s most valuable players this season on the league’s most surprisingly successful squads.

“He’s really stepped up his game this year, especially when we needed him when Eric went out,” said Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek. “He was playing great prior to that, but then without Eric he maybe averaged 22 points a game. He had to play bigger minutes for us. He’s a great player.”

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