Source: J.R. Smith wins Sixth Man
The Knicks have called an afternoon news conference at which Smith will be given the award, the source said. The news was previously reported by The Associated Press.
The eighth-year guard has averaged 18.1 points in 80 games, all off the bench. He had 29 games in which he scored 20 points as a reserve, tying him with the Clippers' Jamal Crawford for the NBA lead.
Smith helped the Knicks win the Atlantic Division title for the first time since 1994. New York is the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference and leads the Boston Celtics 1-0 in their first-round playoff series.
It's the second individual award in two years for the Knicks, following Tyson Chandler's Defensive Player of the Year honor last season.
Smith is the third player in Knicks history to win the NBA's Sixth Man Award, joining John Starks (1996-97) and Anthony Mason (1994-95).
Despite not making a start, Smith was one of the Knicks' most important players. He played more than 40 minutes seven times and was often their only scoring threat behind Carmelo Anthony.
For most of the season, it seemed like Smith would take second place to Crawford.
He struggled for much of January, shooting 36 percent from the floor in that month, including just 25 percent from beyond the arc.
But during the Knicks' 13-game winning streak late in the regular season, the New Jersey native was a model of consistency. He scored 23.2 points per game on 49 percent shooting; prior to the winning streak, Smith averaged 16.7 points per game on 40 percent shooting.
Smith doubled the percentage of shots he took in the restricted area during the winning streak (15.6 percent before March 18; 33 percent in the 13 games following it).
He had three straight 30-point games March 26-29, the first time that was done by a reserve since Milwaukee's Ricky Pierce in 1990.
Smith ended the season leading all bench players in points per game (18.1). Crawford was second with 16.5 points per game. Golden State's Jarrett Jack (12.9 ppg) was another leading candidate for the honor.
Smith signed a two-year contract worth $2.8 million in the offsesaon. The second year has a player option and Smith is expected to decline it and test free agency.
The Knicks will have Smith's Early Bird Rights, meaning they can exceed the salary cap to re-sign the shooting guard if he decides to decline the 2013-14 option.
The Early Bird Rights allow the Knicks to pay Smith up to 175 percent of this season's salary, which is $2.8 million. That means the Knicks could offer him a contract for next season at about $5 million, and the agreement could be up to four years with standard raises.
Information from ESPNNewYork.com contributor Ian Begley and The Associated Press was used in this report.
The East looks to be about as exciting as another episode rerun of Law and Order. Everyone is expecting the chalk to play thru to Cleveland and Orlando rematch, with oddsmakers seeing the Cavaliers and Magic switching places. One fun aspect is how angry most of the Eastern Conference teams are. Cleveland’s mad because they feel they should have already won a title. Orlando’s peeved because most experts don’t believe they are good enough to win championship. Atlanta is fuming because of lack of respect and Boston is raging because they believe they are better than they’ve played. Milwaukee’s unhappy about losing Andrew Bogut and Miami’s piqued about talk of one man team. The Bulls are essentially “no comment” on head coach and VP being involved in heated confrontation and Charlotte’s coach Larry Brown is just mad about being Larry Brown. All lines courtesy of Sportsbook.com.
(1) Cleveland vs (8) Chicago
At present, there is no denying the Cleveland Cavaliers their due. Cleveland had the best record in the NBA at 61-21, which included tossing away the final four games of the regular season, resting the league’s best player LeBron James. If you discard the non-efforts in April against the other elite teams in the NBA, the Cavaliers were 9-2 and 8-3 ATS against all other clubs seeded one-thru-three. Without question, this is the deepest most complete squad James has had since taking up residence in Cleveland area. The Cavs are fourth in field goal percentage defense and third in field goals made and yes they still will bog down on offense occasionally, but have additional weapons like Antawn Jamison and J.J. Hickson to compliment other aspects. The Cavaliers are +160 favorites to win it all and should.
Chicago received a dubious prize for making the NBA Playoffs on the last day of the season, but you can’t compete and learn how to get better unless you make it this far and truly determine where you need to improve. The Bulls are really young and can play like a bunch of kids on the playground with the public doubting they can even win a game. Point guard Derrick Rose seems to work well with Kirk Hinrich and as long as the former Kansas product is making jump shots, the duo can give the Cavs problems in the backcourt. In the frontcourt, Chicago has to match physicality, but don’t overdo it, since the Cavaliers have more options. Luol Deng has to be big in this series. Da Bulls are 17-7 ATS in road games vs. teams making six or more three-point shot a contest in the second half of the season.
Though Cleveland gave away much of April, the last thing they want is extended series, nonetheless, you can bet coach Mike Anderson would prefer four challenging tilts to toughen up his team, with Cavs the winner each time. Anderson’s group is 11-2 ATS versus teams who average 53 or more rebounds a game on the season.
Pick- Cleveland (-2800) in four over Chicago (+1600)
Postseason Outlook- This isn’t complicated, Cleveland is the best team in the NBA and completes their work to be NBA champions. The very next question is does LeBron stay? To Cleveland’s credit, the front office could hardly have done more to improve team.
(2) Orlando vs (7) Charlotte
The Magic backed up their trip to last year’s NBA Finals with a strong regular season and look to duplicate that feat while creating a better ending. Orlando presents matchup problems for most teams as traditional defensive-mentality is to play inside the three-point circle and help off the wings and clog the lane. The Magic launch a myriad (most in NBA history this season) of three-pointers which frees up Dwight Howard to operate by himself in the paint, with an offensive game that is modestly improved from the past. Orlando is a good, not great defensive team individually, but having Howard as the last line of defense is the great equalizer, which is why the Magic led the league in field goal percentage defense. Focal point for Orlando will be Vince Carter, since Hedu Turkoglu was so clutch in last year’s playoffs; can an aging Vin-sanity play at the same level or beyond?
Charlotte is in the playoffs for the first time in their second spin as NBA franchise, now headed by Michael Jordan’s group. On paper or computer screen this doesn’t appear to be much of matchup and it might not be, but the Bobcats have angry dudes who will give their all. Gerald Wallace is a proven All-Star and contributes in all facets of the game. Stephen Jackson is big time and loves the moment as Dallas will attest to two seasons ago when they lost to Golden State with Jackson being one of the key components why. With Larry Brown as coach, Charlotte will be prepared and his players don’t hate him, yet, which means more inspired play. The larger question is will Brown end up coaching the entire series or be working on resume at Ladders, since he was quoted as saying this is where he wants to finish coaching career. (Nod if you’ve heard that before five or more times). The Bobcats are 23-11 ATS against top-level teams with 70 percent or higher win percentage the last three years.
This isn’t a good match for Charlotte, having lost 10 of 11 to Orlando (5-6 ATS) and if they lose the first two games in Mickey’s town, will the fickle Bobcats fan even bother to sellout two games for their team? The Magic are magical 19-3 and 15-6-1 ATS since March 1.
Pick- Orlando (-1000) in five over Charlotte (+600)
Postseason Outlook- Orlando plays the respect card and eliminates Atlanta and pushes Cleveland to a Game 7, before falling in the East Finals.
(3) Atlanta vs (6) Milwaukee
Do you get the feeling the Hawks are turning into the Atlanta Braves of the 1980’s? The Braves had great players like Dale Murphy and Bob Horner but never really accomplished a great deal, not being able to fill the rest of the holes. The Hawks are two years removed from almost upsetting Boston, who would go on to win NBA title. They won 53 games (the most in 12 years) this season yet ask any NBA insider or interested sports bettor if Atlanta is an elite club and a pause will come before a hesitant answer. The Hawks function best on offense when they are like the hamburger chain In-N-Out, dumping the ball into Al Horford and Josh Smith (both with limited offensive maneuvers) and kicking it out to shooters like Joe Johnson, Jamal Crawford and Mike Bibby. Expert the Hawks to want to fly up and down the court, ranked fourth in fast-break points at 16.2 per contest and they begin the series 30-13 ATS after playing two consecutive games as favorite this season.
It’s really a shame Milwaukee lost center Andrew Bogut, though he’s never been a factor against Atlanta, as a very strong case could be made he was the second best center in the Eastern Conference this season until unlucky fall. Though the injury limits aspects of what the Bucks can do, no reason for Milwaukee fans to be crying in their beer. John Salmons was the best pickup any team made before the trade deadline, bringing a scorer’s mentality and ability to get to basket; shooting over five three throws a game. Carlos Delfino and Jerry Stackhouse are excellent shooters when feet are gathered and Luke Ridnour adds a calming effect with his presence. Look for Milwaukee to play plenty of small-ball attempting to get open shots for quicker players or draw fouls for dead ball points.
At the All-Star break Milwaukee was 24-27, going nowhere, but caught fire finishing 22-9 (20-8-3 ATS) and were the only NBA teams with over fifty (51) spread wins this season. Head man Scott Skiles is the classic underdog coach, since that’s what he was as player and if Atlanta comes in over-confident against shortened Bucks bunch, this becomes arresting series.
Pick- Atlanta (-900) in six over Milwaukee (+550)
Postseason Outlook- It’s sad really, Atlanta may have peaked with this contingent already, as Joe Johnson is sure to chase the buck just like he did when he left Phoenix and Mike Bibby isn’t getting better. Hawks have no magical answers for Orlando.
(4) Boston vs (5) Miami
How the true sports bettor wins is giving up on preconceived notions when the obvious is presented and not just grabbing the latest fad when it comes around. The Boston Celtics have won exactly half of their last 54 games (18-34-2 ATS), after starting 23-5. By now everyone has heard all the excuses as to why, but the facts are this is an average, aging basketball team led by players that can no longer deliver consistently, with a coach whose rah-rah style is no longer as appealing. In sticking with facts, the Celtics are 24-17 at home (12-28-1 ATS) which is five defeats more than the previous two regular seasons combined. Boston has lost seven contests since Feb. 25 by 10 or more points and 10 total overall, which is precisely one more whipping they received in the prior two campaigns totaled together. This club would seem to have more in common with Mary J. Blige than Rhinna.
While Boston has been a loser in seven of last 10 contests, Miami has been hotter the Beyonce, being winners in 12 of last lucky 13 (8-4-1 ATS). The Heat-wave has been a two-pronged factor, a manageable schedule and great defense. Though a few groans have emitted from the Miami locker room about playing at faster pace, coach Erik Spoelstra looks down the bench and doesn’t see production in terms of minutes and points, thus has decided to limit possessions and hope Dwayne Wade can find a way to win. The defense has been suffocating, holding opposing clubs to 88.7 points in this stretch compared to 94.2 on the year.
Miami will be a trendy pick, a hot team facing a cold (you can’t spell cold without o l d) one. Heat backers will dismiss 0-3 record this season against Boston, since they lost by only five, six and seven points. Wade has been like his team’s nickname, heating the C’s for almost 34 points a game and over eight assists. However, Doc Rivers has implemented a plan, let Wade get his and not let anyone else beat us, which is the reason for no other Miami player scoring 20 points vs. Boston this season.
Pick- Boston (-200) in six over Miami (+165)
Postseason Outlook- The ride ends in Cleveland for the Celtics. The offseason could bring change if Doc Rivers leaves town. Ray Allen will only be older next year and would any NBA franchise want huge dollars tied up in Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace for two more years?