Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

New York Knicks 117 – Boston Celtics 109 – Game Recap

I told you I wanted the guys to win this game. I’m really happy they followed through on my wish, and did it in such a convincing fashion. In a season dedicated to losing, sucking and (hopefully) developing players, it’s a great thing to pick your spots with regard to beating good teams. If we have to beat a good team, let it always be Boston. It feels great to wash away their smugness with the same forcefulness used by Mitch to swat those poor suckers at the rim.

The game became a much closer matter than it should have been (our largest lead was +26, but it got cut to just 3 with 34 seconds to play), but that was to be expected, given that Fiz left two rookies on the court for the majority of the fourth quarter. I have to say that this game went a long way in giving me back confidence in Fizdale’s ability to understand the game. Whatever was going to happen to this game (and it’s much better that we won, but it would have been good even if we lost), let the unproven guys get the reps they earned. Mitch and Knox were on the court for pretty much the entire fourth quarter. Frank played the full last 12 minutes. This is how you do it.

The good:

– Ok, when did Trey Burke (29 pts, 6 rebs, 11 ast, +10 +/-) become the undersized version of Kyrie Irving? Seriously, this guy is having such a good streak of games that you might mistake him for an All-Star candidate in the last four: 25.8 ppg, 4.3 apg, 3.3 rpg and 1.3 spg on a super efficient 67.8 TS% and an astounding 31.7 USG% in just 28 minutes per game. This game is all his: he played great (yeah, great) for all of his 33 minutes, and came through with timely buckets in the last two minutes and a half, including the crucial three-pointer to put us ahead for good with just 12 seconds to go. In fact, he scored 7 of our last 9 points, where the lone two points he didn’t score were free throws that the Celtics gifted to Mudiay after we were up six with 5.5 seconds remaining. Trey was everywhere, oozing confidence and showing he was in total control of the game. I know it won’t last, but this Trey is an amazing player. Well, I guess most players are amazing when they apparently can’t miss, but this one, hitting guys in stride and snatching more than a few contested boards in traffic, was the real deal. Probably his best overall game in a Knicks uniform.

– Noah Vonleh (16 pts, 10 rebs, 3 ast, +5 +/-) began the game with fire in his eyes and ice in his veins, hitting both of this three-pointers and going after caroms with undeterred savagery. The fact that he played so well and still didn’t see significant playing time down the wire speaks volumes about both the quality of the play of the guys on the floor during the bulk of the fourth quarter and the sound decision making of coach Fizdale. Noah keeps on being the best frontcourt player of the team, if not the best player entirely, and even when he commits a few mistakes you can’t deny the contribution he brings to the team. This time he was very good even at rim protection, blocking 3 shots, two of them reminiscent of particularly nasty spikes in volleyball. I think we all remember fondly KOQ; I also think we found a guy that’s a nice, consistent replacement for the zany beardo (save for those delicious passes hitting backdoor cutting guys). His stats are not at the level of peak KOQ, but are good nonetheless: .123 WS/48, 18.4 TRB%, 9.1 AST%, 1.2 BPM look like the typical portrait of a nice third-fourth big to have on a contender. If we are not able to keep him next season, I wish him the best of luck and to find a place on one of the 4-5 best team in the League.

– Mitchell Robinson’s (8 pts, 4 rebs, 6 blks, +7 +/-) inclusion here is a bit of a stretch, since he alternated resounding plays and dumb mistakes – most egregiously fouling Irving with a clear path to the basket in the fourth, effectively handing the Celtics the opportunity to cut the deficit to ten with more than seven minutes to play – but I mean… have you seen this guy roam the paint on defense? There was a stretch in the fourth quarter where the 15 foot radius in front of the rim looked positively like a no-fly zone for green jerseys. Do you know who’s on top of the block% in the whole NBA? …your guy, Mitch. I guess we probably would have won the game even with Vonleh on the court in place of Robinson, but it was such a stupendous view to see our rookie center wreak havoc and terrorize all sorts of Celtics for a few minutes. This kid really belongs in the League.

The bad:

– Mario Hezonja (3 pts, 2 rebs, 1 stl, -2 +/-) is trying a little too hard to get acting recognition, starring tonight as Lance Thomas in “Desperately seeking useless starter: a Knicks bio-pic”. Second start in a row for Mario, second stink-bomb. He shot 14.3% from the field, did nothing in any other facet of the game and was his usual listless self on defense. It’s unbelievable to think that, for all his talent, he could just very well be the worst player on our roster. His effort level is unexcusable. I pegged him for some 20+ points game from the bench inside MSG, but I don’t think he has any fire in his soul. He looks like he can’t wait to be home, wherever that home might be. Sure as hell ain’t gonna be New York after April 15th, 2019.

– Emmanuel Mudiay (5 pts, 2 rebs, 2 ast, -6 +/-) wasn’t all that bad, but the good Mudiay we’ve seen in some of the last games was nowhere to be seen. A timid performance, buoyed just a little by his block on Irving’s last shot and his subsequent 2 free throws. Never was the disparity between him and Burke more evident than tonight. There can be a lot of games where Trey is not playing well, but that’s on his physical limitations or his mental disconnect, never on his instincts. Mudiay, on the other hand, needs to be always 100% focused on the game, as his insticts are severely lacking and have to be continuatively kept in check. Tonight was a typical directionless Mudiay game; the fact that I don’t feel it was that bad maybe speaks more about my very low expectations for him than about his real level of contribution.

Fun-sized bits:

– Enes Kanter is strangely posting meh numbers since getting inserted back into the starting five (8.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 41.2 FG%); his body language looks a lot better, though. Does he really care that much about starting on a team that’s going to lose at least 55 games? I mean, I know the NBA market is skewed in favor of starting, huge numbers posting guys… but in 2018 that’s for guards, wings and stretch bigs. I hope his agent is smart and in his ear, otherwise Enes is going to be in for an unpleasant surprise this summer. Not a bad game for Enes tonight, anyway. Sometimes he kinda overcomes his defensive liabilities and find a way to be sorta useful on both ends of the court. Not hating on happy, 25-minutes playing Enes.

– Frank Ntilikina played a huge game on the defensive end. I’m sorry, I don’t have stats for you, and I’m not keen on trusting that much my eye-test (what with being shortsighted and all), but if you saw even some snippets of the game you saw his on point defense on Jayson Tatum and other sorts of Celtics. He was again good at getting to the rim, even unleashing a contorting baby Greek Freak layup in the fourth. I like me some aggressive Frank! Maybe Fiz has found his right role? Could Frank play best as a wing, acting as the egg in our Knicks cheesecake recipe: you think it has no purpose, but it makes everything stay together while enabling the different, more present flavors to emerge with their distincts features? Oh, and there were a few possessions where he was matched with Marcus Smart and I was like this.

– Tim Hardaway had another 20+ points game, but this time his performance wasn’t noteworthy in a good way: 21 points on 19 shots, a missed technical free throw late in the game, lots of bad turnovers (seven total). He seems a little more engaged on defense, but nights like this one won’t cut it when we’ll need him to win games in two years. He’s always unafraid, but he’s careless with the rock in the half-court. For all the talk about his improvement, a lot of his advanced stats are the same as they were in his last year with Atlanta.

– Allonzo Trier continues on his campaign to be a proficient offensive cog while trying not to detract anything on the defensive end. Through almost a quarter of the season, he’s still averaging double figures in points while shooting a little south than 60% true shooting percentage. Not bad for an undrafted rookie, huh?

– Kevin Knox had a nice outing (11 points, 9 boards, one block). I don’t care that much about him scoring 10+ points: I care about how he gets there. He was able to go to the line four times and employed a good shot selection. Also, his work on the boards was similar to what we saw in Summer League. I still don’t see much in him, but tonight he looked at the very least competent enough.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Celebrate this pretty win with as much cranberry sauce you like and, if your stomach is full of air and feel about to burp, send a thought to Boy Wonder Brad Stevens who just got manhandled by a merry band of misfits in his hometurf.

See you on Friday against the Pelicans!

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51 comments on “New York Knicks 117 – Boston Celtics 109 – Game Recap

  1. Bruno Almeida

    Mitchell Robinson is 6th in the league in blocks per game and he averages 15 minutes a game. Is this what love feels like?

    All I wish for thanksgiving and Christmas and new year is a Celtics total collapse and the Knicks with a top 3 pick, it can’t be too hard right?

  2. alsep73

    I’m not keen on trusting that much my eye-test (what with being shortsighted and all), but if you saw even some snippets of the game you saw his on point defense on Jayson Tatum and other sorts of Celtics.

    I know we’re a stats-focused group, but the eye test very much told the story about Frank last night. Burke was the star, and rightfully so, but what Frank and Mitch did in the other end was beautiful to watch.

  3. Hubert

    yeah, stats is stoopid, great game by frank doh

    You sound like the old guys who used to argue pointzzz when some dude scored 30 pts on 35 shots. You’re going to make statzzz a thing.

    Frank was awesome last night and it was pretty obvious. That it doesn’t show up in the boxscore is just evidence that the box score struggles to measure defensive impact. This isn’t an anti-stats position. It’s just acceptance.

  4. d-mar

    All I wish for thanksgiving and Christmas and new year is a Celtics total collapse and the Knicks with a top 3 pick, it can’t be too hard right?

    You left off Sacramento winning 38 games and getting the 12th pick in the draft

  5. Farfa Post author

    Sadly the Celtics are too stacked for a total collapse; I’d be ok with them being the 6/7th seed in the playoffs and getting obliterated by Milwaukee, Toronto or Philly.

  6. danvt

    FN, Knox at 3 and 4. Mitch at 5. Trey at 1. Trier at 2. Vonleh and TH…That’s a nice group that did big things on the road against one of the better teams in the conference.

    Happy for coach Fiz and this team. Progress.

  7. Bruno Almeida

    @4

    I might be crazy but I think that one has a very good chance of happening. Unless they have major injury issues this Kings team looks definitely for real, they could win 40 if Fox keeps playing so damn well.

  8. ProjectKnicks

    Frank was awesome last night and it was pretty obvious. That it doesn’t show up in the boxscore is just evidence that the box score struggles to measure defensive impact. This isn’t an anti-stats position. It’s just acceptance.

    Like a clock, even our broken PG plays right twice a season…

  9. bidiong

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone. What is the deal D Dot not getting any minutes?

    Of course I’m hosting 20+ people and getting more sick by the minute. FML

  10. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    “Sure, my new girlfriend may have puked on the neighbor’s dog and then made my little brother wash it in a solution of ammonia and bleach while she sold bootleg DVDs out of the back of a stolen car, but she was very polite to the cashier at 7/11 last Wednesday.”

  11. alsep73

    What is the deal D Dot not getting any minutes?

    One of two things is happening:

    1)Dot is hurt enough for Fiz to rest him while trying other combos.

    2)Fiz knows Dot’s skills and role and is setting him aside for a few games while he figures out who else is useful and in what role.

    Under either scenario, I’d expect him to soak up most of Hezonja’s minutes before long.

  12. The Glass Half Rebuilt

    So far this season (in 19 games), Hardaway Jr, Burke, Robinson, Trier, and Vonleh look like valuable pieces, the jury is still out on Ntilikina and Dotson (gotta get that 3PT% up), Knox looks like trade bait, and everybody else looks like they don’t need to be New York Knicks after April.

    If we whiff in free agency, I wouldn’t mind maxing KP, giving Burke and Vonleh 3 year deals at $9M AAV, and continuing to build through the draft and smart free agent signings.

  13. ProjectKnicks

    If we whiff in free agency, I wouldn’t mind maxing KP, giving Burke and Vonleh 3 year deals at $9M AAV, and continuing to build through the draft and smart free agent signings.

    You’re the owner – always have the last word, J.D.

  14. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    Fultz is looking like he’s to take his place beside Kwame, Bennett and Bargnani in the Pantheon of Busts. Tatum may have regressed but he would be an excellent 3/4 in the Sixer starting lineup.

  15. Z-man

    Yeah, but Fultz is mysteriously bad. Kwame, Bennett and Bargnani had no real track record. Nothing from Fultz’s college film could have prepared anyone for this. You almost have to put him in the Oden category and assume he has suffered a career-crushing injury…to the mind.

  16. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    I know the yips are real, but whenever it happens to high-performance athletes, it’s like a marvelous mystery. How can a person make it this far and then suddenly forget how to naturally shoot the ball? It’d be like if Chris Paul woke up and forgot how to dribble with his left hand.

  17. bobneptune

    Like a clock, even our broken PG plays right twice a season…

    Hmmmm…. seems like he put the clamps on a bunch of pretty good offensive players 2 CONSECUTIVE night, ehhh?

    When Dennis Rodman was 20 he was 2 years from ENTERING NE Oklahoma and 5 years from debuting in the NBA.

    Pippen was 2 years from entering the NBA and 5 years from having a ws/48 > 0.100

    I almost hope the KNICKS FO trades him to POP or Kerr or boy genius and then listen to you guys welp…”WTF another cost controlled player on a rookie contract dealt away and does good!”

  18. The Glass Half Rebuilt

    There has to be some level of medical malpractice going on in Philly. Noel, Embiid, Okafor, Simmons, Fultz, and now Zhaire Smith with an allergy that is sidelining him, it has been 6 years in a row a Philly 1st round draft pick has had significant health complications. I think Markelle Fultz will be fine once he gets his health back. We should trade for him and watch him blossom into a beast.

  19. ProjectKnicks

    When Dennis Rodman was 20 he was 2 years from ENTERING NE Oklahoma and 5 years from debuting in the NBA.

    Pippen was 2 years from entering the NBA and 5 years from having a ws/48 > 0.100

    For every Pippen, Rodman and other cherry-picked statistical exceptions, there is a million Ntilikinas.

  20. bobneptune

    For every Pippen, Rodman and other cherry-picked statistical exceptions, there is a million Ntilikinas.

    Hardly cherry picked…. the number of 20 year old NBA players who excel on both sides of the ball is a pretty weeee sample size. Frank has an extremely rare NBA talent in being able to make life extremely difficult for the most talented smalls in the NBA at 20 and that is a talent that has extreme value, although underappreciated here on a poor team with generally 3 other very minus defenders on the floor with him at the same time.

    Bruce Bowen didn’t have a season with a ws/48 = 0.100 until he was 33 years old and managed to be pretty valuable to a great franchise for many years and championships. Defense is more than half the game an few championships are won without a plus defense. Frank brings that in spades at a tender age.

    Not everyone in a great band is a lead singer…. they all need someone to drop a steady bass line….

  21. bobneptune

    For every Pippen, Rodman and other cherry-picked statistical exceptions, there is a million Ntilikinas.

    No my friend there aren’t a “million” 20 year olds who walk into the NBA playing plus defense from jump street with great savvy on defense with freakish tools to learn how to exploit, too.

    Could you list a few of these for me over the past 10-15 years??? There are a million of them, aren’t there?

    Maybe Rudy Gobert and he didn’t enter the league until he was 21 and establish himself until 22 at the earliest.

  22. ProjectKnicks

    @28
    Sorry to wake you up: Ntilikina absolutely sucks. He is one of the main reasons of why the Knicks are the worst team in the league!

    If he is so good, why does he play so bad?

  23. bobneptune

    Sorry to wake you up: Ntilikina absolutely sucks.

    Is this the debating style that wins arguments today? Seriously?

    But thanks for the pro tip regardless.

  24. JK47

    I mean, Fultz wasn’t a GREAT shooter in college, but he wasn’t horrible. Shot over .400 from 3PT on pretty high volume, which is not too shabby even from the shorter NCAA distance. He won’t even take that shot in the pros.

    He clearly has some sort of Knoblauch/Sasser disorder.

  25. bobneptune

    I also find it quite curious while you wield a mean”pithy” comment, you seem to eschew listing the “millions” of 20 yr old NBA players who were plus plus on one side of the ball and ended up having a sucky career. You sort of shun this like meat shuns the grinder…..

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agfX4pJs-vo

  26. DRed

    Frank has probably been the third worst Knick to get minutes, behind Knox and Hezonja, both of whom have been much worse. So yeah, he’s definitely a part of why we stink. We also don’t have any particularly good players, which is a more significant problem

  27. rama, king of superfluous poppycock

    I heard a rumor about a Fultz motorcycle accident around the time of the draft as well. That would explain it…though it still is mysterious…

  28. bobneptune

    He clearly has some sort of Knoblauch/Sasser disorder.

    Steve Blass, Rich Ankiel, Chuck Knoblauch, Steve Trout, Steve Sax etc….. and they seldom resolve.

  29. Bruno Almeida

    There’s been a lot of stuff said by people about Fultz, the motorcycle accident, that he tried to adjust his shot to the NBA triple and fucked the form, the yips, etc… I feel bad for the kid. Well, not super bad as if he’s cut now and never plays again in the NBA he still got 16 million dollars, but well, he seems like a good kid.

    Philly is probably going to try to trade him for at least something decent, but if they’re giving him away I wouldn’t mind taking a chance as it’s only this season and next season guaranteed on his contract. Maybe the horrible Sixers staff botched something really bad with him, it wouldn’t be a big surprise.

  30. nicos

    Frank is a very good man defender but that’s not nearly as valuable as a good rim protector. If Frank can stop fouling so much (and so stupidly) he can be an Aminu/ Mbah a Moute type guy on that end. I’m not sure he has the activity level to be a Tony Allen or Kahwi who can change the game defensively from the wing. And he’s got to at least try on the boards- as well as he played last night there were multiple plays where he was standing listlessly under the boards while Celtics got offensive rebounds. He’s not close defensively to someone like Marcus Smart right now. And that ignores the fact that he’s unplayably bad offensively- that people were encouraged by last night’s 6 points on 50% TS and 1 assist/ 2 turnover performance (including one terrible inbounds pass that basically gift-wrapped two points for the Celtics) tells you all you need to know about his offense.

  31. JK47

    I’m not sure he has the activity level to be a Tony Allen or Kahwi who can change the game defensively from the wing.

    I think this is a pretty fair statement. Maybe when he’s older, more physically developed and more swole he might be more of an impact defender, a true game changer, but as of now he’s good but not game-changing on the defensive end.

    “Role player” seems like his ceiling unless he develops some other skill in some unforeseen way.

  32. Brian Cronin

    Steve Blass, Rich Ankiel, Chuck Knoblauch, Steve Trout, Steve Sax etc….. and they seldom resolve.

    Pretty much. It’s very sad.

  33. bobneptune

    I think this is a pretty fair statement. Maybe when he’s older, more physically developed and more swole he might be more of an impact defender, a true game changer, but as of now he’s good but not game-changing on the defensive end.

    “Role player” seems like his ceiling unless he develops some other skill in some unforeseen way.

    While I agree with a lot of this you guys don’t set the bar very high… Kawhi Leonard is only a 4 time all NBA first team defender in 5 complete seasons, so yeah…. Frank probably won’t be better :-)

    And I’m not so sure its is “unforeseen” for a 20 year old basketball player to improve much on offense, right???

  34. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    Judging from the speed with which Fultz has covered his body with Instagram-influencer/ fuckboi tattoos, I’d say there’s a significant chance that he also bought a crotch rocket as soon as he was financially able.

  35. GoNyGoNyGo

    @42 – I think that it’s short-sighted to rate any of these kids until they’re old enough to graduate college on a normal schedule. They are still growing and still learning. When a 26-year old like Burke, Hardaway or Kanter steps on the floor he raises the average age of the players on the floor. They are the oldest active players now that Thomas and Lee are on the injured list. I think that by age 22 or 23 we should be able to judge the player.

    It’s time for Frank to take that next step. He has 100 NBA games under his belt. Look at other players are his age. LeBron, Kobe, Durant, Anthony Davis, Kyrie, the Greek Freak. They improve dramatically before they were 23. However, by the time they were Frank’s age, you could see the potential.

    I want him to average 13 points and 13 points in other stats like rebounds, assists, steals and blocks combined by 2019. Yesterday he scored 6 points had 1 assist, 1 rebound, 0 steals, 0 blocks. On the season he’s averaging 6.5 PTS, 1.9 TRB, 3.0 Assists, 0.9 ST, 0.4 BLK. He’s 6.5/6.5. Essentially, he needs to double his production to show us he’s improving.

  36. Donnie Walsh

    “Defense is half the game” is a trite phrase in basketball that I think has lost a lot of its truth in the modern NBA.

    Not only do I think that a good offense beats a good defense, but I think that a good offense is a good defense. Teams that run a motion offense that is hard to keep up with make the other team tired, and when the players tire, the first thing that goes is their shooting. That’s one of the big reasons the Kerr-era Warriors have been the best defensive team with the #1 opponents’ eFG% over the past five years. Their defense is greater than the sum of its defensive parts.

    It’s relaitvely easy to hide poor defensive players on defense in today’s league. So much so that nobody even knows for sure whether 80% of the player in the league are good or bad on defense. On the other-hand, it’s virtually impossible to hide poor offensive players. The other team just force feeds them the ball by playing 5-4.

    Having raw defensive skill at a young age is great and all. But, yeah, if there’s a great defensive player on the team right now, it isn’t making a bit of difference. The team is 29th in opponent eFG% with the only team worse than them, Cleveland, currently boasting the worst team defensive rating since 1979.

  37. Donnie Walsh

    I heard a rumor about a Fultz motorcycle accident around the time of the draft as well. That would explain it…though it still is mysterious…

    I read somewhere that the latest MRI wasn’t ordered by the Sixer trainers but rather it was requested by Fultz’s personal attorney. It’s been a weird saga thus far.

  38. geo

    fultz’s draft potential was one of the few things I’ve gotten right draft wise here…

    he missed a bunch of games his senior year, but, his college team was pretty quiet about what was physically wrong with him…

    I hope everyone is having a wonderful thanksgiving, one of my favorite holidays here in the states…

    family, friends and eat til you sleep :)

  39. geo

    we need to ride the string out on frank and knox…unless of course we can flip them for something better, something sure…

    needless to say, there’s very little sure things when dealing with players that young…

  40. english_knick

    I’d make Philly an offer for Fultz for sure. Who knows what’s wrong or how fixable it is. But I read that Philly has a positive net rating with him on the floor, higher when it’s without Simmons. He’s still/already a good penetrator and PnR player. At least part of the problem in Philly is they wanted him to play a lot off the ball alongside Simmons and Embiid. The problem with his jump shot is exacerbated by the existing problems they have with spacing.

    He could definitely be a bust but in a lineup with shooting, where he is the primary ball handler, it may be possible to develop him as a plus player while giving more time to his outside shot in the hopes that eventually returns. Fultz and Mitch, surrounded by KP, Timmy and Knox is, at least in theory, the makings of a decent modern offense. If frank developed a reliable 3 ball, Fultz, Frank, Knox, KP and Mitch is (again in theory) even better given the two-way potential.

    I don’t see anyone giving much up for Fultz but I’d offer something built around Lee and/or Burke – that’s a decent win-now package for the Sixers.

  41. JK47

    Fultz also shoots free throws like Shaq. So that’s a problem.

    He’s been a reasonably decent boxscore stuffer in other ways, but that shot is a deal breaker. If he could shoot a little bit he’d be an excellent prospect but you know the deal about my aunt and her balls.

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