Blog Entry

Let the great Lin debate begin

Posted on: February 12, 2012 12:51 am
Edited on: February 12, 2012 1:19 am
Jeremy Lin was just 8-24 from the field Saturday but still got the win. (Getty Images)
By Matt Moore 

And now the fun part begins. Jeremy Lin is no longer undeniable nor deniable after the Knicks100-98 win over the Timberwolves. Let me take you down the road of point/counterpoint that will be hashed and re-hashed over the next 48 hours.

"Lin got the win, that's all that matters."

"Lin was inefficient and missed 14 shots from the field."

"Lin managed to pull 20 points and 8 assists while playing a quality defensive team surrounded by Tyson Chandler, Steve Novak, and Landry Fields as his best weapons."

"A good story doesn't erase a poor game."

"It was the Knicks' third game in four nights, and a back-to-back. The kid has logged long minutes. Everyone gets tired this year."

"It was against the 13-15 Timberwolves." 

"The Wolves are 15th in efficiency differential (12th in defensive efficiency), were above .500 before the Kevin Love suspension. And didn't the win over the Lakers kill the 'strength of schedule' argument?"

"The defense figured him out in the second half."

"Not enough."

And both sides are correct. It was not a great performance by Lin, but it was enough to help the Knicks win. It was inefficient, but highly productive. Lin made some poor plays, and some brilliant ones. Lin is entering the next phase of what happens when you're a phenomenon. And while Lin is not worthy of being compared to the great players of this league, not even close, if we examine this five game stretch as a microcosm of how analysts, fans, and media react to polarizing players, this is the next evolution.

Good enough for the supporters to herald, poor enough for the backlash to begin. Did he win the game, even when he hit the game-winning free throw, or was it defense and poor execution by Minnesota late that kept the Knicks' Linning streak alive? Did he struggle because he was exhausted from hoisting a team without Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire, half their payroll, and on a back-to-back, third-in-four? Or was it Minnesota figuring him out?

The debate will rage. His supporters are validated by the simplified 20-8-6-3 line and a win, the backlash buoyed by his turnovers and shooting percentage. And the answer lies in the middle.

Lin was clearly exhausted, as the elevation on his second-half shots reveals. He would land and take longer to recover to his feet. He looked winded, he drifted to the edges at times, and admitted after the game everyone was tired.

But Lin also admitted that the Timberwolves did a good job defending him. And they did. It's been no secret since Lin's first explosive performance that the key is forcing him left. Lin is notably weaker with his left, and in fact, the Wolves shaded him constantly to his left. When Lin attempted to move right in the pick and roll, a second defender would pop to the elbow to drive him back left.

That said, Lin missed several very makeable shots going to his left, including a floater over Nikola Pekovic and a bank shot over Love. Pekovic may have been the biggest difference maker. Not only did he challenge Lin at the rim, but he managed to keep with him laterally without fouling. Most teams don't have a defender of that quality (speaking of players who came out of nowhere), but it does show that Lin is more than mortal.

And yet.

Lin also forced several possessions, often getting into the air and trying to finish with floaters over three defenders instead of passing out to a wide-open corner man, which he has done so much during this streak. Some of that is exhaustion wearing on his decision-making. Some of it is just forcing it.

Do we need to make excuses, though? Hasn't Lin already proved himself, especially since he had a poor game by the new established standards for him and still won the game with 20 points and 8 rebounds? Should we hold him to a higher standard, considering what should be lowered expectations?

It's too late for all that. This thing has taken on a life of its own. And you have to wonder if that was the real difference against Minnesota. The Knicks played well defensively. They got some breaks. Lin was productive but not efficient. But as much as I try and boil things down to metrics and plays and X's and O's, it's hard to watch this game and not walk away with a simple conclusion.

Some things can't be stopped. And while the rollercoaster has to end sometime, right now? Nothing has been able to stop Linsanity. Minnesota is just the latest to experience it.

Since: Apr 7, 2007
Posted on: February 12, 2012 8:02 pm

Without a doubt that J. Lin

has inspired his teammates to give their best. I watched the game against Rubio and Timberwolves, and J. Lin did look absolutely tired, ready to pass out, and he admitted he did not have a good game. He has several areas to improve on (I think J. Lin himself recognizes this), but he absolutely has the right stuff to get his teammates play better. I just hope he can become a productive player for long time and be the glue that holds the team together.

Since: Oct 14, 2010
Posted on: February 12, 2012 7:28 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

Lin and Rubio are the most interesting NBA players for at least one reason--they are about the only unpredictable players.  Their creativity add some life to a sport dulled by the whining superstars who succeed if they can get in their triangle or whatever they are playing on offense.  Thanks Jeremy and Ricky, it is a glimpse of what we enjoyed about Magic, Larry, Pistol Pete, Dr. J. 

Since: Jun 21, 2010
Posted on: February 12, 2012 7:02 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

One week does not a career make.  Has it been fun to watch?  Absolutely.  Can it continue?  Perhaps.  Only time will tell.  Lin certainly has energized a very lack luster Knicks team and given New York something to buzz about.  It will be interesting to see how Coach Mike works Carmello in with Lin.  Carmello demands the ball, but does not make his team mates better.  Lin involves the team, and thus far has made his team mates better.  Bring Amare back with Carmello, and Lin will be lucky to get 10 shots a game.  Coach Mike has to know Lin needs to be in the mix of plays and let him direct the team on the court.  The plays and ball need to go through Lin.  Let him run the plays and distribute the ball as the Point.  Point guard play is something the Knicks have sorely needed this season, as many others teams do as well.  While other teams have struggled to control Lin, it may turn out to be the team he plays for that controls him best.  Carmello and Amare may see to that.  If Carmello and Amare want to win, they need to work with Lin and not against him.

Since: Jul 21, 2010
Posted on: February 12, 2012 7:00 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

He's the AAA baseball player who comes up and hit 5 homers in 3 games. Of course he's not that good. Of course he's not bad. He is a good player, playing above his expectations at the moment. End of story.

Since: Aug 17, 2010
Posted on: February 12, 2012 6:45 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin


Since: Jun 5, 2011
Posted on: February 12, 2012 6:38 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

It's time to face the music.  Is he a great Lin or a "vile Lin?"  While the media is fiddling around and stringing out this story, it will be interesting to see if Lin bows to them or whether he creates his own song.  I'd hate to see this end on a sour note, so I'm hoping he keeps his shooting tuned up and harmonizes well with his teammates.

Since: Feb 6, 2011
Posted on: February 12, 2012 5:32 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

Barkley's a bumbling backwoods idiot that doesn't know when to shut up!!
He said "in order to play defense - the knicks need to have defensive players."
What a freaking Crock!!!
You have to have a TEAM COMMITTMENT  TO DEFENSE!!!
Has anyone questioned the Knicks Defense over the last six games? NO
Do they have the same players? YES
It's the Committment from every player on the team.
Your offense is predicated on how well you play DEFENSE!!
Go Jeremy Lin - Fire D'Antoni !!!

Since: Aug 31, 2006
Posted on: February 12, 2012 5:32 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

Couldn't said any better myself...I am "ROOTIN" for Lin (not a Knicks fan either,lol)..Great story ..Personally i think with  Amare'/Carmelo back (once Lin and them get in sync..He'll be able to pick his spots &  let his game flow (although being able to explode at anytime,saw that against the Lakers)..But Carmelo/Amare' are going to have to work harder ,put their egos in check.....Just my 2 cents....Peace...

Since: Aug 31, 2006
Posted on: February 12, 2012 5:18 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

Excellent comment...(not a knicks fan),lol

Since: Jul 8, 2009
Posted on: February 12, 2012 4:49 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

Let's not give him a star tag yet. it takes more than five games to reach that status, If you ask Barkely there only six superstars in the league, then some great players and the rest play the role..

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