The only game in the NBA tonight is Charlotte at New York.
I guess with the BCS National Championship tonight the NBA scheduled a game they thought would be of little importance. Well guess what NBA, this game happens to be very important. Seriously, it is. The Knicks need this game to even the season series with the Bobcats thereby preventing the Bobcats from holding an outright tiebreaker. Yes, the playoffs are 4 months away and I’m talking tiebreakers. But admit it, aren’t you glad the Knicks are even part of a tiebreaker discussion? Anyway, if the Knicks and Bobcats end the season tied the tiebreaker moves to conference record which favors the Bobcats right now, but a win gives them time to catch up.
What to watch for 1: Who are you and what have you done with the Bobcats?
Charlotte has beaten a few strong teams during their 3 game win streak and are just three games under .500. Wondering how the Bobcats went from losing by 20 to the Pistons to beating the Heat and Cavs? Well, they added Stephen Jackson and subtracted Tyson Chandler in favor of Nazr Mohammed.
Jackson (17.8/36 minutes) has really helped their anemic offense, which is in the bottom 3rd of the NBA in efficiency and eFG%.
Mohammed has come in at center and put up way better numbers than Tyson Chandler. Mohammed’s pts/36 (18.9) is double that of Chandler’s, plus he is more efficient. He has a higher rebounding rate, (17.5) and half the turnover rate (11.2) of Chandler. Wow if only the Knicks could get their hands on a center like that. Well I can’t lament too much as trading him got us the pick that became Lee, but still.
What to watch for 2: Stopping the Bobcats 1, 2, 3.
The Bobcats have a strong defense but a weak offense. The Knicks need to focus on the most important cogs in the Bobcats’ offense: Felton (PG), Jackson (SG), and Wallace (SF)–get it 1,2,3? Felton, Wallace, and Jackson are the Bobcats’ top scorers and they each prefer to get inside to do their damage, which is probably why the Bobcats are 4th in FT/FG ratio on offense and smart considering the Bobcats are 24th in 3pfg%. The Knicks need to keep those three out of the paint and force them into bad outside shots. The Bobcats know the Knicks are not strong inside defenders so they will look to get into the paint. The Knicks need to stop them. Oh and Jeffries if you are reading, you don’t have to try and draw a charge on every drive. A steal or a block is really nice too.
What to watch for 3: Wilson Chandler.
Chandler has played very well as of late and this game is going to be a very good test for him. Chandler will likely match up against either Wallace or Jackson and that will be the biggest test for him on defense in weeks. On the other side of the ball Chandler needs to stay aggressive and force either Wallace or Jackson to pick up a few fouls because….
What to watch for 4: The reserves.
The Bobcats have a very thin bench. Outside of Flip Murray they get very little from the reserves. It’s so bad that Larry Brown gives rookie Derrick Brown 11 minutes a game. Brown only plays rookie out of absolute need. Staying aggressive on offense and getting to the Bobcat reserves is a very good thing because the Knicks have a clear advantage in terms of depth.
Your in game thoughts here.