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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Game Preview & Thread: Knicks vs. 76ers

Uno, dos, tres! Three is the magic number — these erratic, gnarly Knickerbockers have strung together a miniature-sized streak of successes. Let’s ignore the fact that the consecutive victories came against a trio of inconsistent, (presently) non-playoff teams, and rejoice with the knowledge that the delightful eighth seed in the Eastern Conference is lingering a mere 3.5 games in the distance. That’s right, a few more nights of avoiding half-hearted hopelessness, and the ‘Bockers will have the privilege of partaking in an assuredly lopsided opening round series in the upcoming postseason festivities. (Side note: Bucks in six) To gear up for tonight’s game, I reached out to Eric Goldwein, editor of Hoop76, who kindly offered a few thoughts on the squad from the City of Brotherly Love. Take a second to mire in the misery of measured mediocrity, and allow yourself to swoon over the Sixers’ sweet sixteen (game losing streak). But hey, at least they’re not busy “racing to a red light.”

During this sixteen-game losing streak, the Sixers’ defense has allowed opponents to connect on 38.9% of attempts from beyond the arc. The team’s net rating over that stretch is a ghastly -19.5, almost double that of the next worst team, too. How debilitating and discouraging has it been to have to watch this tragically undermanned team continually get pummelled?

Eric Goldwein: After four months you get a little numb. With this personnel, the Sixers’ D is going to get burned one way or another and they’ve picked the three, rather than (well, in addition to) the paint, as their poison. Instead of cheating out on the perimeter, coach Brett Brown has elected give his defensively challenged bigs some help defense with a “pack-the-paint” defense. (Here’s a detailed explanation from Kyle Neubeck.) For now, it’s a disaster. It’s leading the league in 3-pointers surrendered (9.3) — I could be wrong, but I’m fairly certain they’re on pace to set the record. This is partly a product of the fast-pace, three-heavy style, though giving up that many threes at such a high clip (37.2%, 24th) is not a sustainable defensive solution. We’ll see what happens when they get some real defenders — like Nerlens Noel! — in the lineup.

“This might sound… trivial or even a bit corny. I think [the Sixers] deserve it,” – head coach Brett Brown on his team being worthy of a win, after Philly’s loss to Utah on Saturday night. Is Brown’s assessment of the Sixers’ play fair, or is it (as he hints) a clichéd remark?

EG: The Sixers deserve a W in the same way I deserved all those trophies from my youth soccer leagues. They haven’t checked out, sure. Awesome. But that makes it all the more depressing; that they’re hustling and still can’t beat a Utah Jazz team — playing on the second night of a back-to-back, on the road — just goes to show you how terrible this roster is.

Take a look at the following statistical breakdowns for these three Eastern Conference teams (in the month of February):

Team A: 2-11 W-L record, 110.7 opponent points per 100 possessions, 42.4% opponent 3FG%, 54.2% opponent eFG%.

Team B: 3-8 W-L record, 109.2 opponent points per 100 possessions, 42.0% opponent 3FG%, 53.8% opponent eFG%.

Team C: 0-11 W-L record, 111.6 opponent points per 100 possessions, 38.9% opponent 3FG%, 54.1% opponent eFG%

Those numbers are all pretty putrid, no? Well, Team A is the Knickerbockers of New York, Team B is the Milwaukee Bucks (owners of the worst record in the NBA), and Team C is Philadelphia. There was a lot of talk about the Sixers creating a rather objectionable piece of NBA history by going winless in February, yet by many measures, these Knicks were almost as awful as the team that traded (albeit meaningless) future draft considerations for Byron Mullens. Can Sixers fans take solace in the fact that, tanking notwithstanding, there are teams with much foggier blueprints performing at a similarly atrocious levels?

EG: Absolutely. The Sixers, unlike the Knicks, are losing with a purpose. There’s a plan in place and all these 20-point blowouts are an unfortunate byproduct of said plan. The Dolan model, it seems, is to buy/trade all the shiny players, throw out the duds, and buy some more. I’ll take the short-term tanking over that any day.

An alarming number of opposing guards have registered new career-high points totals against New York this season, including former Sixer Evan Turner dropping 34 at MSG in January. Should Knicks fans prepare for MCW, Tony Wroten, and/or James Anderson to join the illustrious club by netting new personal bests?

EG: James Anderson has stepped up since Evan Turner was dealt, and I could see a breakout game. Though not a career-high. He dropped 36 against the Rockets back in November and even against the Knicks, so it’d be hard to surpass that. I could also see a random Knick setting a personal mark against Philly’s putrid D. Tim Hardaway Jr.’s over/under: 20.5.

One of the team’s two lottery picks in the 2013 NBA Draft, Nerlens Noel (who is yet to appear in an NBA game), sent out this cryptically coded tweet on Sunday. It sent a minor shockwave throughout basketball Twitter, with many speculating that the former one-and-done Kentucky pivot could be making his much-anticipated league debut (against Boston) on that date. At this point in the season, does anything else matter for the Sixers? Would you rather Nerlens sit 2013-14 out entirely and aim to be ready for the start of next season, or should Philly sneak in a handful of games to send out hype and hope for what may be to come?

EG: Yeah, put ‘im in. Why the hell not? From what I know about ACL tears — umm, very little — it’s as much a psychological recovery as a physical one. If there are no long-term risks, I don’t see much of a downside to letting Noel finish out the season.

Will the Sixers ever bring an end to this lengthy losing streak? If so, any chance it will happen tonight at the Garden?

EG: Philly couldn’t even take Utah on the second night of a back-to-back on Saturday. I’d be surprised if they kept it close against the sorta-but-not-really red hot Knicks, who are coming off three straight wins. The streak isn’t ending tonight. I’m not sure it ever will.

UPDATE: Tyson Chandler will miss tonight’s game for personal reasons. That’s…not good, but hopefully, against Philly it shouldn’t be a death-blow. We’ll see who starts in his place.

UPDATE II: Smallball!

82 comments on “Game Preview & Thread: Knicks vs. 76ers

  1. DRed

    You didn’t even mention Herring’s important tweet:

    Knicks are keeping both Shannon Brown and Earl Clark for second 10-day stints, the team announces.— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) March 10, 2014

    We coming for that number 1 spot.

  2. Robtachi

    Al Trautwig just mentioned the Knicks made an exclusivity deal for an NBA D-league team to be placed in Westchester (looks like White Plans, to me).

    That’s got to be a good thing, right? Better eyes on evaluating talent, and maybe it gives Allan Houston a setting to get some training in putting together a roster.

  3. ephus

    Henry Sims and Mullins are the lowest bar possible for the Knicks sans Chandler.

    Without Chandler, Knicks have to keep Wroten and Anderson away from the rim.

    Philly is an awful 3pt shooting team without Hawes.

  4. Thomas B.

    Seems like this would have been a good game to give Tyler a start. Philly is practically a D-league team.
    Meanwhile, the combined suckatude of these teams has broken the NBALP feed.

  5. lavor postell

    I like how Thaddeus Young got a wide open look at a 3. There’s literally 2 guys in Philly’s starting lineup to give a shit about on the offensive end. Young and MCW.

  6. Thomas B.

    Philly may have only two guys who can score, but we only have one who plays defense

    And who might that be?

  7. ephus

    Effort does not guarantee success, but lack of effort guarantees failure.

    Knicks are getting killed on the boards.

  8. coyle022

    This would be a great time for some Country Cole. Knicks need somebody to protect the rim bc obviously STAT and Melo are incapable of doing it. Hopefully at least Tyler gets some burn. Knowing Woodson though he’ll roll out Melo at the 5 when STAT rests.

  9. d-mar

    If the Knicks somehow manage to lose this game (and BTW they were favored by 15 POINTS) can we all agree that we are officially done with this team? For real this time?

  10. coyle022

    @13 yes this would be a loss of epic proportions. But there’s always a Ruru out there who will say “well we’re only 3.5 back of that 8th spot.” IMO if they lose this one they don’t deserve to make the playoffs

  11. ephus

    If the Knicks do not start hitting the defensive boards, they are going to give this game away.

  12. JK47

    This team has committed a lot of egregious basketball sins this season, but surrendering 31 first quarter points to this piece of shit 76er team is the low water mark.

  13. cgreene

    Mike Breen sits there and knows that Wroten is not a good shooter and the D should play off him. But do you really feel the Knicks players are aware of that? I feel like the just don’t know. They aren’t informed. Of course that is 100% on Woodson. So glad there’s only 18 more games of criticizing Woodson.

  14. ephus

    Now that Shump hit that shot, I would love to see the Knicks run that Melo/Shump pick again, but have Shump hit Melo going towards the basket.

  15. d-mar

    @23 and only 18 more games of that dumb, mouth agape, “I have no clue what’s going on” look from the sideline

  16. cgreene

    Everyone’s mentioning how Sixers have lost 16 in a row and Atlanta 15 of 16. The team that both last beat… your New York Knicks

  17. d-mar

    Nobody informed the Knicks that when you are over the limit in fouls the other team shoots foul shots

  18. Kahnzy

    One of these days we’ll figure out this whole “transition defense” thing. I have faith.

  19. Brian Cronin

    They’re seriously going to win this game and make the playoffs and yet still be awful. Hilarious.

  20. ephus

    That Michael Carter-Williams rebound and basket happened because Melo did not rotate to anyone on defense. No one was within 3′ of Carter-Williams when grabbed that rebound on the baseline.

  21. Kikuchiyo

    Anytime you can keep this red hot Sixers team under 70 in a half, you count your blessings.

  22. Kahnzy

    If Phil Jackson watched that 1st half he definitely wont take the job lol.

    OR, and maybe I’m reaching here, he saw the challenge that reshaping this roster will be and his innate desire to conquer all will fuel him to accept the offer and zen his way to a championship roster!

  23. lavor postell

    31 and 30 points given up to the fucking Sixers. What a joke.

    Phil Jackson knows our record was 24-40 entering tonight’s game. I don’t think he’s under any illusions as to what the status of our team is.

  24. d-mar

    Hey, James (or was it Shandon?) Anderson failed to convert 2 of his 8 shots, so our defense wasn’t all that bad.

  25. JK47

    The Sixers’ eFG% on the season was .470 coming into this game. That’s 28th in the league. Tonight? They’re at .570. That would easily lead the league, as the Heat currently have the high mark at .560.

    So, against the Knicks’ defense, the worst offensive team in the league turns into the Miami Heat. A pretty impressive feat.

  26. lavor postell

    Haha we get the switch of Young on Felton and Melo on MCW. Then instead of posting up Melo we have Felton pound the ball for half the shot clock and then throw a cross court pass to Shump who attempts to make something happen off the dribble and predictably our possession ends in failure with Tyler fumbling around on the floor for a loose ball.

  27. ephus

    Shumpert (who I root for like a nephew) is an awful finisher.

    He needs remedial And1 training this summer.

  28. Kahnzy

    I like when TH2 has good games offensively. You know, as opposed to when he has really horrid games.

  29. Brian Cronin

    Imagine if the Jazz could pull an upset over the Hawks. It kind of irks me that the Hawks get their two gimmes at the same time that the Knicks are getting their gimmes.

  30. d-mar

    Watching the Nets game, Kyle Lowry is really, really good, and plays tough, in your face defense.

    I wish we could have made that deal happen.

  31. Kahnzy

    Imagine if the Jazz could pull an upset over the Hawks.

    While a healthy Hawks team would certainly be favored…I’m not sure I’d call this particular game an upset for the Jazz. Millsap is back, yes, but he’s been out a while.

  32. Kahnzy

    TH2 made that three, which is good. But he really should have passed that to STAT who was ALL ALONE under the rim.

  33. Kahnzy

    Hey, we’re only 12.5 games back from winning the Atlantic. We can still do it! Mathematically!

  34. Kahnzy

    Why is Amare still in the game??

    Because Cole Adlrich gets a pretty nasty allergic reaction to playing time. Seriously, it’s gross.

  35. Brian Cronin

    While a healthy Hawks team would certainly be favored…I’m not sure I’d call this particular game an upset for the Jazz. Millsap is back, yes, but he’s been out a while.

    If the Hawks are trying to win, they should be able to destroy Utah, and so far that seems to be the case as they’re up by 13 at the moment.

  36. Unreason

    Tell ya what: that first quarter was garbage time too. They shouldn’t do that kind of thing in public. Happy for the win though.

  37. maxwell_3g

    just finished watching on DVR. my thoughts:
    1) Amere played greats. Still, 2 questions remain. First, can he withstand these minutes. Second, when he is playing against real NBA players, will the dominance continue. I have my doubts, but I can take anything away from his performance tonights.
    2) TH2 likes to shot. When he hoisted a 3 (which he made) instead of passing to amare for a dunk, it was pretty ridiculous. also would like to see more of this versus real NBA players
    3) Tyler is a keeper. His energy is really good, pretty much every game.
    4) Toure’s theme song is definately “Stoner”. In fact, he is much more fun to watch when you imagine him being stoned out of his mind out there.
    5) Speaking of stoners, JR’s shot selection was awful tonight. the fact that he made a few kind of masked it, but it was still awful

  38. Robtachi

    I think I’m back in the rooting for the Knicks to sneak into the playoffs camp because at this point, even with a huge surge at the end, Woodson still has to be a dead man walking. That was really my #1 priority result from this season, so since it seems to be an inevitability especially if Phil takes this management job, I can safely root for them to make a feeble playoff appearance because, well, why the hell not? With Denver owning the Knicks’ pick, it’s better than missing the playoffs. Sucking horribly and embarrassingly surrendering a high lottery pick to the Nuggets was always the rootable scenario for sending Dolan a message that the status quo is crap, but ceding control to Phil Jackson and not making panicked trades simply because he recognizes that’s what he’s been criticized for shows that he maybe, just maybe, has already received that message. If things work out with Phil coming in and Woodson packing his bags, we can just enjoy whatever they give us the rest of the season and look forward to a very intriguing summer.

  39. Robtachi

    5) Speaking of stoners, JR’s shot selection was awful tonight. the fact that he made a few kind of masked it, but it was still awful

    Melo and JR attempted over half the Knicks’ shots tonight, on a night when they both really didn’t have it going. Melo’s been awesome this year so it’s hard to bag on him too much, but this is what drives me crazy about the perceived offensive suckitude of one Iman Shumpert. Yes, his shooting numbers are not good (he ISOs too much relative to spotting up or cutting) and he’s terrible finishing in traffic, but tonight he played 31 (pretty good) minutes and took 3 damn shots. The guy never fucking gets the ball in a position to shoot unless he’s standing in his own zip code beyond the arc where his shot is still a work in progress. I don’t think Woodson has run a single play for Shumpert to get an open cut to the basket. On a night when your two main gunners are not connecting, maybe consider getting him a couple of good looks.

  40. Brian Cronin

    Man, that would have been awesome. Ah well, couldn’t really expect them to lose that game.

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