2010 Game Thread: Knicks @ Cavs

The Cleveland Cavaliers are statistically the best team in the league. Their expected win percentage (based on point differential) is .743, which is slightly worse than their actual win percentage of .784. They excel at shooting percentage on both ends of the floor (2nd offensive eFG, 1st defensive eFG) and also defensive rebounding (2nd). The Cavs biggest weakness is turnovers on both ends of the floor, although on the defensive side it’s probably a result of their scheme to stay at home instead of gamble for the big play.

There’s not much to say for the Knicks these days. D’Antoni started Nate Robinson and brought Chris Duhon off the bench, but New York still couldn’t defeat a Buck squad sans Redd and Bogut. In that game Danilo Gallinari was a non-factor on offense, not making any shots until 8:13 left in the game. Robinson shot poorly from the floor (3-12, 0-1 3P) but salvaged a horrific shooting night by earning 7 points from the charity stripe (13 points total). On the bright side, he had 7 assists without a turnover. New York had 8 blocked shots, but that belies how poor they were on defense in the paint. New York had so many blocked shots, because Milwaukee frequently brought the action to the paint.

At a time when the team had a soft spot in their schedule and a low playoff seed was within reach, the Knicks went 4-10. In their next 10 games there are certainly some winnable ones (Sacramento, Chicago twice, Oklahoma, Memphis, Washington, and Milwaukee again), but they’re going to face some great teams down the stretch. New York will meet Cleveland twice, Boston thrice, Portland, Utah, Orlando, Dallas, and San Antonio. Save for a miracle turnaround, New York is probably out of playoff contention.

2010 Game Thread: Knicks @ TimberWolves

TEAM POSS EFF eFG TO OREB% FT/FG
New York Knicks-Offense 93.9 106.3 50.4 15.2 23.7 19.5
Rank
7
18
11
10.5
27
29
Minnesota Timberwolves-Defense 96.1 110.4 52.1 15.2 25.9 22.2
Rank
3
27
30
19
11
13
New York Knicks-Defense 93.9 108.6 51 15.8 27.4 21.6
Rank
7
20
24
12
23
10
Minnesota Timberwolves-Offense 96.1 100.4 46.6 16.7 27.9 20.3
Rank
3
29
28
27
8
27

New York had a laugher in their last meeting, and given their recent slide they could use another breather. The Wolves are bad at just about everything, save for rebounding. New York is a substandard rebounding team, ranking 23rd on defense and 27th on offense. Last night the Knicks allowed the Wizards to grab 24 offensive boards, so this could be an area that Minnesota tries to exploit. Meanwhile the orange & blue need to beat up on the soft Timberwolves defense, as Minny is the league’s worst team with regards to opponents eFG (allowed 52.1%). A good shooting night for New York and limiting Minnesota’s second chances seem like the keys to victory tonight.

2010 Game Thread: Mavs at Knicks

Dallas Mavericks

TEAM POSS EFF eFG TO OREB% FT/FG
New York Knicks-Offense 93.7 106.3 50.7 15.3 23.4 19.4
Rank
9
20
11
12
28
28
Dallas Mavericks-Defense 92 104.9 48.7 15.2 25.6 19.6
Rank
19
11
9
18
9
1
New York Knicks-Defense 93.7 107.9 50.6 15.6 26.8 22.2
Rank
9
19
21
13
17
13
Dallas Mavericks-Offense 92 107 49.5 14 25.1 22.1
Rank
19
14
18.5
3
21
20

By the standings the Mavs are one of the West’s premier teams, but perhaps they’re not all that they’re cracked up to be. Dallas is 3rd in the Western Conference, but their point differential is only 8th best. From a four factors standpoint they’re just above average on defense and average on offense. When the Knicks have the ball, don’t expect to hear a lot of whistles. New York is 28th at drawing fouls, and Dallas is the best team in the league at denying their opponent free points. On offense Dallas is great and holding onto the ball (3rd in four factors turnovers), but they don’t do anything else particularly well. For their reputation as an offensive juggernaut, their eFG is sub par (tied for 18th) and worse than New York’s (50.7% to 49.5%).

2009 Game Thread: Nets vs Knicks

[Back to the old blog style for the last game of the season. In case anyone is curious I’ll leave the forums up for now, because a few threads are still active.]

These two teams have nothing to play for, or more specifically nothing to win for. A Knick win combined with a Raptor loss would have the two teams tied at 32 wins, meaning a coin flip would determine which team picks 8th in the draft. As for the Nets, a win could move them from a potential 10th overall pick to 14th, depending on if Charlotte and Indiana both lose (and of course another coin flip).

If sticking it to their cross-tunnel rivals with a loss wouldn’t be enough, New York has 4 young players that they should be giving maximum playing time to: Chris Sims, Mouhamed Sene, Joe Crawford, and newly signed Chris Hunter. If the 4 don’t get a combined 80 minutes and the Knicks win, Mike D’Antoni will lose a half a letter grade in his KnickerBlogger year end evaluation.

The Siren Song of the NBA: Creationism

Yesterday the Knicks beat the Hawks at home, and I had one thought on my mind during most of the game. Earlier that day I had read Alan Hahn’s live chat where a questioner said the following:

“Is David Lee overrated? Double-doubles are great, but not when they don’t impact games. IMO Nate is more valuable to the Knicks right now in that he has the ability to carry a team on his back when he erupts for 20 pts in a single quarter…”

Now, I like Robinson and have been lobbying for him to get more playing time from his first season. I hope the Knicks will keep him around for a few more years at a reasonable price without hurting their chances for a couple of major free agents. And I don’t want to get into a discussion about who is the most valuable Knick, because it’s tough to answer that question. For instance what does “most valuable” mean? It could mean if you were building a team, which player you would choose first. It could mean which player, if removed, would hurt the team the most.

What I want to talk about it the siren song of the NBA – the creative scorer. As a fan who watches many games, it’s easy to understand the lure of the volume scorer. The average fan focuses on the guy with the ball, and the scorer tends to have the ball in his hands more often than his teammates. Additionally he is able to create the shot by his own ability, independent of his teammates. It’s easy for the fan to see the benefit of the scorer’s efforts, since it connects directly to the main goal of the team: points. Rebounds don’t change the point totals on the scoreboard. When the news covers the game, usually you hear something like “Robinson led the Knicks with 29 points, while Duhon and Hughes chipped in 19 each.” You don’t hear about the other stats unless it’s a phenomenal number (20 rebounds). And the players listed are in point order, even if they score 19 points on 20 shots.

What strengthens the bond between the fan and the scorer is that sometimes the scorer performs in an amazing manner. Watch any NBA game and you’re likely to see a few spectacular shots, most by the high scorer. Hence it’s easy for the average fan to relate to the leading scorer. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the most important event on the court. Other things lead to a team’s victory, including defense, rebounding, turnovers, and free throws. But most of these aren’t as sexy as the made basket. When was the last time you saw a spectacular rebound? Has there even been a spectacular free throw? A turnover can excite the crowd, but unless it’s followed by a score the buzz is lost.

Now I’ll agree that the double-double is an overrated stat, but is it that much more overrated than points per game? Or even the ability to create your own shot? This final component seems especially important for the average fan who plays basketball. At the level of the average fan, being able to create your own shot is more important than many other attributes. In other words your neighborhood version of Al Harrington is worth more at the park than the NBA’s version is to his team. In the Hawks game thread, a game that Robinson missed due to injury, “ess-dog” commented “Now this is the kind of game that makes me wonder if Nate’s scoring and penetrating is overrated.”

During Isiah’s tenure New York was stuck with two players that could create their own shot, but do little else. Crawford & Curry seemed to divide Knick fans between creationists who worshiped their ability to make shot attempts, and those that covered their ears to the siren song of YouTube highlights. This year the team has traded one and marginalized the other, and their record is on track to improve by 10 games. It’s no coincidence that this improvement has occurred by replacing the inefficient ex-Bulls’ minutes with the more efficient Robinson and Lee. Additionally the latter pair gives the team more than just field goal attempts. Lee provides rebounding, while Robinson sprinkles the stat line with rebounding, assists, and steals.

As advanced statisticians already know, at the highest levels of basketball shooting is the most important factor with regards to a team’s chances of winning. But it’s not shooting volume that we use to measure it, but rather shooting efficiency. If a team can shoot at a high percentage and prevent their opponent from doing the same, they’re going to win a lot of games. Creating a shot does have value, but it must be taken in the proper context of the ability to make the shot. On the night the Knicks won without their best creative scorer, Golden State got blown out by the Bulls. They were ‘led’ by Stephen Jackson 19 points (on 20 shots), Corey Maggette 14 points (on 16 shots) and Jamal Crawford 11 points (on 15 shots).


Per 36 minute stats comparing last year’s creationists to their 2009 counterparts.

       Player  Season  Age  G  MPG  FGA  ORB TRB AST STL TOV  PF  PTS  TS%
Jamal Crawford 2007-08  27 80 39.9 15.7 0.4  2.3 4.5 0.9 2.2 1.6 18.6 .528
 Nate Robinson 2008-09  24 52 1561 16.9 1.7  5.1 4.7 1.7 2.1 3.4 21.1 .559
 
       Player  Season  Age  G   MP  FGA  ORB TRB AST STL TOV  PF  PTS  TS% 
    Eddy Curry 2007-08  25 59 1530 12.8 2.6  6.5 0.8 0.3 3.0 3.7 18.4 .578
     David Lee 2008-09  25 60 2134 11.9 3.2 12.1 2.0 0.9 2.0 3.4 16.7 .599

2009 Game Thread/Preview Knicks @ Blazers

Well “Dream Week” is over and not a moment too soon.  New York went 0-3 against 3 of the NBA top five teams.  I cant say I’m surprised but I am happy about the quality of play.  If the energy and execution remain high, New York could manage a winning record on this west coast swing.  First order of business is Portland (30-19) who beat New York 104-97 on December 2, 2008. 

TEAM POSS EFF eFG TO OREB% FT/FG
New York Knicks-Offense 97.2 107 50 15.4 23.9 21.1
Rank 2 16 12 16 28 27
Portland Trail Blazers-Defense 86.2 109.2 50.8 15.7 25.1 24.2
Rank 30 21 23 12 7 16
New York Knicks-Defense 97.2 109.4 51.4 14.8 27.2 21.2
Rank 2 22 27 20 19 6
Portland Trail Blazers-Offense 86.2 113.3 50.6 14.8 32.7 24.3
Rank 30 2 10 10 1 15

What to watch for: Joe Przybilla.  Yeah, I know what you are thinking but it was big Joe that really sealed the win for Portland when they came to MSG.  Big Joe pulled down 14 boards (4 on offensive glass) and blocked 2 shots.  New York needs to keep him-andthe rest of the team- off the offensive glass.  Portland is a very efficient team on offense (2nd, 113.3 pts per 100 poss) andthey are strong on the offensive glass as well (1st).  The last thing New York should do is give this team second chance points.

What to watch for 2:  Portland’s defense.  Portland is not a very good defensive team.  They are in the bottom third of the NBA in defensive efficiency (21st,  109.2) and defensive eFG% (23rd, 50.8%).  New York should exploit this by getting into theiroffense well before Portland can react.  Lee and Harrington should look to beat Oden, Aldridge, and Pryzbilladown the floor as often as they can.  Portland is not used to a fast pace as they are last in the NBA in possessions (86.2).  New York should try to take the team out of their comfort zone by pushing the pace.

What to watch for 3:  Three point defense.  Portland’s Blake, Fernandez, and Outlaw are each shooting better than 39% from distance.  As I expect New York to double Aldridge and Oden in the paint, Portland’s shooters will have more open looks if New York does not improve the defensive rotations.  Hopefully, JJ can play well enough on Aldridge to reduce to need for doubles.

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