New York lost a heartbreaker to Dallas at MSG on November 16, 2008 114-124 in overtime. That game seemed to send the teams in different directions. Since that game, Dallas has won 18 of 24 games. Conversely, New York has won only 7 of 23 games.
Team Poss Eff eFG% TO OREB% FT/FG
New York Offense 98.1 105.6 49.5 15.7 23.6 20.9
Rank 1 19 13 17 28 26
Dallas Defense 91.3 105.2 47.0 13.9 25.9 22.6
Rank 16 10 4 28 11 10
New York Defense 98.1 108.9 51.8 15.1 26.9 20.1
Rank 1 21 28 20 16 5
Dallas Offense 91.3 108.0 49.2 14.3 27.4 20.6
Rank 16 12 15 3.5 12 28
What to watch for: Defense. I will talk about this before every game because New York is not a strong enough offensive team to beat their opponents on shooting alone. Dallas is a slightly above average team on offense. Dallas is 12th in offensive efficiency and 15th in eFG%. Of the five Dallas players that average more than 23 minutes per game, four of them have eFG% above 50. Dallas is a team that has talented offensive players and an offense that suits their skill set. After a loss to the weakest offense in the NBA on Tuesday, the Knicks need a very strong defensive effort to stay in this game.
What to watch for 2: Jason Kidd. Disrupting the Dallas offense has to start with disrupting Kidd. Kidd leads the team in assist rating with 45.2, which I thought must be a typo because an ast-r of 40 is defined as best. Typo or not, it is clear that Kidd sets the offense and makes good passes to teammates when they are in position to score. One way to disrupt that is to put a long, quick defensive player on Kidd. In the win against Boston, D’antoni put Jeffries on Rondo and it really seemed to bother him. Kidd is much more experienced than Rondo is and therefore he will eventually figure out how to beat JJ, but it is still worth a shot.
What to watch for 3: Getting to the line. New York has struggled much of this season with FT/FG rating. As Mike K said “Basically this measures the ratio of free throws made to the field goal shots attempted.” New York is strong at the line sinking 80.1 percent of their attempts. Unfortunately, the team has been in the bottom third of the NBA in FT/FG rating all season. The ability to get to the line is a weapon that has been under utilized on this team. Given the pace New York plays, they could create some real problems for teams that lack depth if they players made a better effort to draw fouls. Players like Harrington need to draw contact when they get in the lane rather than use spin moves to get away from the contact. The team needs to concentrate on getting points rather than just getting off shots.
What to watch for 4: A small serving of Curry? I would not count on seeing Curry tonight (but I am wrong 48% of the time). I don’t think D’antoni will let Curry play until he has earned playing time with strong practices. If you recall, D’antoni was very hard on Curry for missing training camp and coming into camp out of shape. I don’t think we will see much, if any, of Curry tonight. Of course when Curry comes into the game tonight mid way into the second quarter, I can expect my good friend jon abbey to remind me of just how wrong I was.