2009 Game Preview: Knicks vs. Wizards

Hello all.  This is going to be a quick and dirty game preview because I am swamped with work.  So I am going to give you the best that my 1 hour lunch break will allow.  So no jokes, and only meta-human analysis instead of my normal super-human analysis.  I bearly have time to this edit, so pleaze furgive any speeling errors ore mistakes gramatikal.

New York (14-22) hosts Washington (7-30)

New York faces Washington for the third time this season.  New York is 2-0 against Washington so far this season. 

TEAM POSS EFF eFG TO OREB% FT/FG
New York Knicks-Offense 97.6 105.8 49.2 15.6 23.4 20.3
Rank 2 21 14 16 28 29
Washington Wizards-Defense 90.1 110.9 52.5 16.1 28.2 22.6
Rank 22 28 30 10.5 25 11
New York Knicks-Defense 97.9 108.6 51.7 15.2 26.9 20
Rank 1 19 28 19 17 4
Washington Wizards-Offense 89.9 103.6 47.1 14.9 27.5 20.3
Rank 23 25 27 11 9 28

[Interesting note:  New York no longer leads the league in pace having slipped behind Golden State by 2/10ths of a point.  New York held the top spot most of the season.  Is this a consequence of a shortened rotation, tired players, a change in style, a  commitment to defense (ha!), or the natural result of moving Crawford and Randolph?  I’m not sure, but I may look into it when I have a bit more time.]

Injury report:  Gilbert Arenas out (knee),  DeShawn Stevenson out (back), Brendan Haywood out (knee), Antwan Jamison highly probable though he did miss practice this week with a knee strain. 

Gallanari out (back), Marbury out (people skills).

What to watch for: Defense.  After losses to the T-Wolves and Thunder, it is clear that New York can lose to any team on any night if they do not commit to playing strong team defense.  While Washington does not have very good team numbers on offense (25th in efficiency, 27 eFG%), Washington does have a few very talented offensive players in Jamison (49.4 eFG%, 22.5 USG-r) and Butler (47.6 eFG%, 24.0 USG-r).  Washington’s offense has improved slightly since Nick Young (47.9 eFG%)-17 points in 19 minutes off 6-10 shooting in the last meeting-took the starting job from Stevenson (39.7 eFG%).  Washington has no solid post scorers though Jamison can be effective in the paint. 

What to watch for 2: Washington’s new look backcourt.  Washington has revamped the backcourtsince the last meeting with New York.  Stevenson has been benched and Washington traded Antonio Daniels. Javaris Critteton (33.3 eFG%) and Mike James (42.9 eFG%) were brought in via trades.  The new backcourt is playing better than the old one (that aint saying much) but it is still a backcourt that features below average ball handling skills ( James 10.5 TO-r, Crittenton 17.5 TO-r).  James has been a 20 ppg scorer in his career, but Young is far more dangerous.  New York should not take this backcourt lightly.

What to watch for 3: Ball movement and penetration.  Washington is a very weak team on defense (28th in efficiency 110.9, 30th in eFG% 52.5).  The bulk of playing time at center is given to the inexperienced (rookie JaVale McGee) and the ineffective (Andray Blatche).   McGee is the only player averaging at least 1 block per 36 minutes, so the Knicks should look to get to the basket and set up easy finishes for Lee off dribble penetration.  Don’t fall in love with the outside shot against this team, the paint should be open for business.

What to watch for 4: Jared Jeffries.  JJ played for Washington his first four years in the league.  He left Washington feeling somewhat undervalued by the team.  I expecta big effort from him tonight.  Look for JJ to score 6 points on 3-18 shooting (from the line), with 8 rebounds.  Hey, that’s big for him.

2009 Game Preview: Knicks at Rockets

Houston (23-15) hosts New York (13-21)

TEAM POSS EFF eFG TO OREB% FT/FG
New York Knicks-Offense 98.1 105.4 49.5 15.8 23.7 20.6
Rank 1 20 14 17 28 27
Houston Rockets-Defense 89.9 103.9 48.2 14.2 25.5 19.3
Rank 23 6 6 27 9 2
New York Knicks-Defense 98.1 108.7 51.8 15.2 26.9 20
Rank 1 19 28 18 17 5
Houston Rockets-Offense 89.9 106.8 48.4 15.7 26.1 25.6
Rank 23 16 19 16 19 7

Injury Report

Ron Artest will likely miss tonight’s contest while he rests a sprained ankle.  Tracy McGrady may be able to play though he has missed time of late  with a sore knee.  Shane Battier is questionable with a sore knee.  Brent Barry missed the previous game dealing with a personal matter.  It is unknown whether he will be available tonight.

Gallanari is not likely to see action due to his sore back.  Jerome James is out with swelling of the everything, and Roberson is unlikely to see action due to a sprained 3 point jump shot.

What to watch for: Defense.Houston is not an especially strong team on offense.  Houston’s pace is in the bottom third of the NBA (89.9, 23rd), Houston’s efficiency (106.8, 16th) and eFG% (48.4, 19th) are right near the league average.  This by no means excuses New York from playing defense.  Houston has talented offensive players in McGrady, Yao, Alston and New York training camp casualty Von Wafer.  So New York needs a strong defensive effort designed to keep Yao out of the paint.  New York also needs to stay near the Houston 3 point shooters.  Wafer is hitting 43.5% of his 3s (Donnie, Roberson is only hitting 33.8%- I’m just saying).

What to watch for 2: Pace.  Tonight Houston plays its sixth game in nine nights and the second of a back-to-back.  New York has to really get into its running game and attempt to wear Houston down.  If Artest cannot play, Houston will be without its strongest defender.  Yao should be somewhat neutralized on defense since New York relies on outside shooting rather than post scoring or drives to the paint. 

Furthermore, if the injury report holds up Houston will be pretty thin.  The recent schedule, thin roster, and fast pace may tired them down.  Run, run, run.

What to watch for 3: Yao.  Tall, good footwork, and a soft touch means trouble for New York’s front court.  While Jeffries is likely to draw this defensive assignment, I would like to see if Curry can entice Yao into picking up a few fouls in the post.  With proper spacing, Lee and Duhon could create trouble for Yao on the pick and roll.  If New York can get Yao on the bench, things should be easier for the team on defense.

2009 Game Preview/Game Thread: Knicks at Mavericks

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.

2009 Game Preview: Knicks @ Thunder

A slight change to the Knicks’ Week in Advance that you have come to depend upon.  Instead of the weekly article, I will provide a preview/game thread as often as I can.  This will give you up to date info on the match ups rather than week old data.  This also gives me more air time on the site so it’s a win-win for us all.

 

New York won the first of two meetings against Oklahoma City 116-106 at MSG on November 14, 2008.  New York prevailed due to a large edge in 3 point field goals made (7 vs. 1) and free throws made (29-40 vs. 17-24).

 

TEAM

POSS

EFF

eFG

TO

OREB%

FT/FG

New York Knicks-Offense

98.5

105.5

49.7

15.9

23.6

20.7

Rank

1

20

12

20

28

28

Oklahoma City Thunder-Defense

94.7

108.8

51.4

15.8

26.8

24.4

Rank

5

19

25

13

14

17

New York Knicks-Defense

98.5

109.1

51.9

15

27

19.7

Rank

1

22

28

23

16

4

Oklahoma City Thunder-Offense

94.7

97.6

44.8

16.9

25.7

22.9

Rank

5

30

30

25

22

18.5

 

 

What to watch for: Defense.  While Oklahoma City comes into this game with a 4-30 record, the match up against New York could be favorable for them.  What little success Oklahoma City has enjoyed this season came against poor defensive teams.  Oklahoma City earned wins against the Raptors, Grizzlies, Timber wolves, and Warriors who are 23rd, 21st, 26th, and 30th in defensive efficiency respectively.  New York is 22nd in defensive efficiency so that put us within Oklahoma City’s reach.  The Knicks need a strong defensive effort to win tonight.  Furthermore, Oklahoma City is last in offensive efficiency (97.6) and eFG% (44.8) so a strong defensive effort should be an effective win strategy.  The Knicks played with a good deal of defensive energy against the Celtics but we need to see that energy on a consistent basis.  Speaking of consistency…

 

What to watch for 2: Wilson Chandler.  Much has been made of Chandler’s recent productivity so it will be nice to see if he sticks with what worked for him against Boston (getting to the line, drives to the basket, good shot selection) or if he reverts to his old form (too many 3 pointers and long jumpers).  Chandler-and the rest of the team- needs to make a conscience effort to get in the paint.  Oklahoma City lacks a player that can block shots and stay on the court for more than 15 minutes.  This should cue New York to drive early and often.

 

What to watch for 3:  High Pick and Roll.  I have not watched many of New York’s recent games (thank you very much RCN cable for not carrying NBA TV) but it seems that I haven’t heard much about the high pick and roll lately.  If New York has gone away from that play, I think this would be a good game to bring it back.  Oklahoma City’s corps of centers (Sene, Petro, Swift, and Collison) is largely inexperienced, ineffective, and foul prone.  Because Lee and Duhon run the pick and roll effectively, it would be nice if they brought that back against Oklahoma City’s slow front line.

 

 

 

 

 

Knicks’ Week in Advance 12/22/08

Thank goodness we can put the nastiness that was last week behind us. The Knicks went 0-4 last week, and with the exception of Milwaukee each of the teams the Knicks played are much better than the Knicks. While the Knicks did not play well in every game, I don’t think the team has quit as I have seen in years past. I am encouraged by the effort – if not the execution. At any rate, I think the Knicks have reached the low water mark on the season. The past ten games were arguably the toughest stretch of the season with four games against some of the top teams in the NBA (Cavs, Lakers, Celtics, Suns), and some strong teams (Hawks, Detroit, Portland). So on paper, the Knicks should have gone 3-7 over the last ten. New York has only 1 more 5 game road trip and it is much less brutal than the recent west coast swing. To sum things up, I haven’t given up hope on this season. There are a few encouraging signs and we will get to them in the article.

A light schedule this week with two games at home, Wolves and Nuggets.

Fri, Dec 26 Minnesota 7:30 pm
[First meeting of the teams this year]

TEAM POSS EFF eFG TO OREB% FT/FG
New York Knicks-Offense 98.4 105.6 50 15.8 23.3 20.1
Rank
1
19
12
17
28
28
Minnesota Timberwolves-Defense 91.5 110.4 51.7 14.4 24.9 25.7
Rank
16
25
28
25
6
23
New York Knicks-Defense 98.4 108.5 50.9 14.3 27.4 18.7
Rank
1
20
23
26
18
3
Minnesota Timberwolves-Offense 91.5 102 45.4 15.2 27.9 22
Rank
16
28
29
13
10
24

The Wolves come to MSG on Friday boasting one of the worst records in the league and the stats back it up. The Wolves are horrid on defense (110.4 efficiency, 25th) and they allow teams to put up very high numbers from the floor (51.7 eFG%, 28th). This bodes well for the Knicks as they are 11-4 against teams that give up more than 49% (eFg) from the floor. They are 6-0 against teams whose eFG% is at or above 50%. The Knicks seem to take advantage of inefficient defensive teams.

What to watch for: Al Jefferson. Jefferson is putting up very solid numbers for a team on which he is the focal point of the offense. He is fairly efficient around the basket (49.3 eFG%) but does not get to the line that often. His FT/FG ratio of 18 is among the lowest on the team, and surprisingly low for a player with a usage of 25.2. Jefferson’s low free throw numbers are mainly due to his offensive style. Al likes to shoot a short jump hook when he catches the ball, does not put the ball on the floor often, and is a poor passer (7.5 ast-r). Jefferson’s game is very much about positioning and put backs (3.2 offensive rebounds/36).

Teams can routinely double Jefferson because there really isn’t anyone else on the team the defense needs to stop. The Wolves have been unable to take advantage of the doubles Jefferson draws as they are very poor shooters (45.4 eFG%, 29th). The only Wolf to shoot over 40 percent from 3 is Corey Brewer who was lost for the season just a few weeks ago. The Knicks should probably commit to doubling Jefferson while keeping an eye out for…

What to watch for 2: Mike Miller. Miller is the only guard on the team that can score efficiently as his 55.8 eFG% leads the team. However, his efficiency has not translated into many points (11.9 per/36 minutes). I would attribute this to the “me first” play from the three guys moonlighting as point guards….

What to watch for 3: Randy Foye – yeah more like Randy “Faux” as in faux point guard (5.5 ast/36 min), Rashad McCants – “cant pass or shoot” (39.2 eFG%, 1.8 ast/36 ), and Sebastian Telfair – “tell him to stop shooting” (36.1 eFG%) round out the Wolves’ back court. The Knicks don’t do a great job defending the three, stopping entry passes, or stopping dribble penetration. Fortunately, these three Wolves do not excel at any of those things.

What to Watch for 4: Rebounding. Love and Jefferson (10.1 tot/36) are strong rebounders on each side of the court. The Knicks need to concentrate on getting good shots and boxing out to prevent Love (5.4 offensive rebounds/36, 12.1 tot) from securing second chances.

Sun, Dec 28 Denver 1:00 pm
[First meeting of the teams this year]

TEAM POSS EFF eFG TO OREB% FT/FG
New York Knicks-Offense 98.4 105.6 50 15.8 23.3 20.1
Rank
1
19
12
17
28
28
Denver Nuggets-Defense 94.7 103.9 47.1 16.6 28.5 23.8
Rank
6
7
5
11
24
14
New York Knicks-Defense 98.4 108.5 50.9 14.3 27.4 18.7
Rank
1
20
23
26
18
3
Denver Nuggets-Offense 94.7 108 50.8 16.8 25.5 28.4
Rank
6
10
8
23
22
2

Denver is playing very well since trading for a true point in Billups. The Nugget offense (108 efficiency, 10th) is strong and efficient from the floor (50.8 eFG%). The only real blemish on the offensive numbers is the high turnover ratio (16.8, 23rd). Denver is a strong defensive team as well. The Nuggets’ defensive efficiency (103.9) and eFG% (47.1) are each in the top ten of the NBA. They struggle on the defensive glass as they fail to secure 28.5 percent of defensive boards (24th).

What to watch for: Rebounding. The Knicks have to take advantage of Denver’s poor rebounding. The Nuggets are in the bottom third of the NBA in defensive and offensive (22nd) rebounding. Of course, the Knicks struggle securing defensive boards as well (28th). Winning the boards will help the Knicks greatly as it will reduce second chances for a Denver team that is very efficient on offense.

What to watch for 2: The Knicks’ defense. The bulk of the Denver offense comes from the 1, 2, and 3 positions. The Knicks need to play strong defense – especially on Billups – to keep the Nuggets from getting into their offensive sets. Force the ball out of Billups’ hands and force Anthony to run the offense. Anthony is far less talented a passer than Billups is (12.8 ast-r vs. 28.8). The Nuggets have efficient 3 point shooters but none of them take more than 2.5 three pointers per 36 minutes. The Knicks should have clean rotations and prevent the Nuggets from getting open looks – the Nuggets can hit shots when given to them.

What to watch for 3: Fan favorite (after draft night) Renaldo Balkman returns to town. Balkman always thought of himself as an undervalued player in college. I wonder how he will respond in his first game back in NYC.

What to watch for 4: Jet lag anyone? This is the first game on Denver’s east coast swing. Saturday night in New York, you know Anthony is going out. J.R. Smith is from the area (and a proud alumnus of my alma mater – ever dear St. Benedict’s). Maybe the Nuggets will come out sluggish and we can take advantage of it. We will need every edge we can get, so let’s hope the Knicks come out firing.

To all the posters, writers, and of course my fans, (Ethan, Owynn, and Jen) Merry Christmas, “Baruch Atah Adonai” and happy Hanukkah to you, “A salama lakim” and a peaceful Ramadan to you. No matter what you celebrate, or whether you celebrate, have a safe and happy holiday, and most important of all-Go New York, Go New York, Go!

[Editors note: Happy “Holliday” to my Pastafarian readers.]

Knicks’ Week in Advance 12/15/08

Our heroes are 2-1 on the current five game road trip, none too shabby so far. Things get tougher as the road trip wraps up with the Phoenix Suns and L.A. Lakers. The rest of the week brings the Knicks home for their third game with Milwaukee (0-2), then another trip to Boston (0-1).

Monday, December 15 @ Phoenix [First meeting of the teams this year.]

TEAM POSS EFF eFG TO OREB% FT/FG
New York Knicks-Offense 98.4 106.2 50.4 15.7 23.6 19.6
Rank
1
19
12
17
27
29
Phoenix Suns-Defense 92.4 110 49.5 13.8 28.2 22.5
Rank
12
26
15
29
20
10
New York Knicks-Defense 98.4 108 50.9 14.6 27.5 18.4
Rank
1
20
23
26
18
2
Phoenix Suns-Offense 92.4 110.1 54.6 17.7 24.6 25.6
Rank
12
5
1
30
26
8

This one could be an interesting game for several reasons, almost all of which have to do with Coach D’Antoni. D’Antoni’s Knicks bring the up tempo style of play back to the place where it first gained notoriety. It will be interesting to see how the fans react to D’Antoni and whether the Suns try to show the Knicks that they can still push the pace even though the possessions per game have fallen off a bit (92.4 per game, 12th).

What to watch for: Duhon vs. Nash. As Duhon is running the system that made Nash a 2 time MVP, it’s understandable for people to compare Duhon to Nash. Nash trails Duhon in both assist rating (38.6 to 34.5) and turnover rating of (15.2 to 12.5). However, Nash far outshines Duhon as a scorer (56.3 eFG%, 42 3P% for Nash compared to 49 eFG%, 37.4 3P% for Duhon). Duhon will need to keep the pressure on Nash and make him work on defense. On offense, Duhon will need to stay in front of Nash and keep him out of the lane where he is great at drawing interior defenders away from their defensive assignments.

What to watch for 2: Shaq and Stoudamire v. The Knicks’ front court. The Knicks have struggled containing players who can score inside so I expect Shaq and Stoudamire will give them huge problems. Shaq’s eFG% of 60.3 leads the team and Stoudamire’s 56.2 is fourth. Shaq never did get the hang of defending the pick and roll, and his diminished speed won’t makes things any better. The Knicks should go to the well early and often.

What to watch for 3: Defense. The Suns are very efficient from the floor (54.1 eFG%, 1st). The Knicks need a strong defensive effort to disrupt the Suns’ offense.

Tuesday, December 16 @ Los Angeles [First meeting of the teams this year.]

TEAM POSS EFF eFG TO OREB% FT/FG
New York Knicks-Offense 98.4 106.2 50.4 15.7 23.6 19.6
Rank
1
19
12
17
27
29
Los Angeles Lakers-Defense 96.2 101.7 47.9 17 26.8 19.6
Rank
3
3
7
7
16
5
New York Knicks-Defense 98.4 108 50.9 14.6 27.5 18.4
Rank
1
20
23
26
18
2
Los Angeles Lakers-Offense 96.2 112.7 51.5 15.1 30.4 25.4
Rank
3
3
4
10
5
9

Tuesdays get no better for the Knicks as they face the Lakers. The Knicks are 0-5 on Tuesday so far this season, but how great would it be to break that streak here?

What to watch for: The Lakers are very efficient on offense (112.7, 3rd) and from the floor (51.5 eFG%, 4th), which is problematic as the Knicks struggle against efficient offensive teams. The Knicks need a strong defensive effort, which must involve keeping the ball from getting to Bynum (55 eFG%) and Gasol (56.3 eFG%).

What to watch for 2: The Lakers’ interior defense. Bynum and Odom are somewhat foul prone (3.9 and 3.8 fouls per 36 minutes). If the Knicks can get either of them in early foul trouble, they will have to contend with the less than stellar defense of Gasol and Radmonavic (0.9 and 0.5 blocks per 36 minutes). The Knicks should look to get inside and draw fouls. They will have to work at it as the Lakers do not give up a lot of free throws (19.6, 5th) and Los Angeles holds their opponents to a low shooting percentage (47.9 eFG%, 7th).

What to watch for 3: Me, not watching this game because it’s on NBATV and my cable company does not carry NBA TV. Thank you RCN-Washington DC. Furthermore, NBA League Pass Broadband blackouts any game on National TV. Boo!

Friday, December 19 Milwaukee [0-2 vs. Bucks this year]

TEAM POSS EFF eFG TO OREB% FT/FG
New York Knicks-Offense 98.4 106.2 50.4 15.7 23.6 19.6
Rank
1
19
12
17
27
29
Milwaukee Bucks-Defense 92.5 106.3 49.6 17.1 24.2 32.9
Rank
11
13
16
6
2
30
New York Knicks-Defense 98.4 108 50.9 14.6 27.5 18.4
Rank
1
20
23
26
18
2
Milwaukee Bucks-Offense 92.5 103.5 46.7 17.3 31 24
Rank
11
24
26
28
3
15

In the two losses to the Bucks, the Knicks had eFG% of 44.4 and 38.3. That is well below the Knicks’ average eFG% of 50.4. The Knicks need to move the ball and get good shots against a team that is not especially strong on defense (106.3, 13th, 49.6 eFG%, 16th).

What to watch for: Get to the line. The Bucks defense gives up a ton of free throws (32.9, 30th). Playing defense with their hands, rather than their feet, as Clyde would say. Getting to the line will be helpful if the Knicks are having another poor shooting night against the Bucks. As an added bonus, the fouls will get you to the Buck’s thin bench quicker.

What to watch for 2: Hope that the Bucks coaching staff does not realize that Luke Ridnour is not as good as Sessions. Sessions plays really well against the Knicks. I’m not sure why Ridnour is starting over Sessions, but I’ll take whatever keeps Sessions on the bench.

What to watch for 3: Bogut. Big, good footwork, soft touch, and efficient (54.9 eFG%) are all adjectives you don’t want to read when describing an opposing center. This is particularly true for the Knicks who have huge problems stopping those sorts of players. New York has to keep Bogut from catching the ball deep. The Knicks don’t have the size to force Bogut out, but the Knicks can pressure the entry passes so the Bucks have a harder time getting Bogut the ball.

Sunday, December 21 @ Boston [Boston won only meeting 110-101]

TEAM POSS EFF eFG TO OREB% FT/FG
New York Knicks-Offense 98.4 106.2 50.4 15.7 23.6 19.6
Rank
1
19
12
17
27
29
Boston Celtics-Defense 91.6 97.9 44.8 17.2 24.2 26.5
Rank
16
1
1
5
3
25
New York Knicks-Defense 98.4 108 50.9 14.6 27.5 18.4
Rank
1
20
23
26
18
2
Boston Celtics-Offense 91.6 109.2 51.4 17.3 27.5 29.9
Rank
16
6
6
25
9
2

Boston has changed a bit since I last reviewed the team. Most noticeably, they show a significant improvement on offense. As of the November 18th game, Boston was 26th in offensive efficiency (101.5) and 18th in eFG% (47.3). The Celtics are now in the top 10 in each category. The Celtic defense, which was very good as of November 18th (96.6 efficiency, 2nd and 43.4 eFG%, 1st) has remained the best in the NBA.

What to watch for: Well, last time I suggested the Knicks try to take advantage of the Celtic’s weak offense-so much for that suggestion now. Honestly, I can’t think of anything the Knicks could exploit. Nor do I see any particular thing the Knick should look to stop. They have to stop everything, don’t they? The Celtics are just that good. To borrow a line from “Ghostbusters” Sorry, Venkman, I’m terrified beyond the capacity for rational thought. Since I got nothing, let’s hear from you posters. Let’s see your best “What to watch for” for the Knicks/Celtics game.

Knicks’ Week in Advance 12/8/08

I’m toying with the idea of theme music for this weekly feature.

To the original theme from “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids”

Hey, hey, hey…. it’s Thoooooomas B.
I’m gonna preview some games for you.
And Mike might add a word or two.
We’ll have some fun now, looking at these stats.
I’ll talk about what to watch for based on PERs and other facts.
Nah, nah, nah going to get some stats now.
Hey, hey, hey!
Hey it’s Thomas B. coming at you with four factors and fun.
And if you’re not careful, you might learn something before we’re done. Hey, hey, hey.
Nah, nah, nah going to get some stats now.

Now that I have that out my system, let’s get on with the fourth installment of Knicks’ Week in Advance. The Knicks start a five game road trip this week with games in Chicago, New Jersey, and Sacramento. While tough, road trips can be a good thing for a team. The team gets to pull together and that is just what the Knicks need as Harrington, Thomas, and Jeffries find their place in the rotation. Let hope the Knicks can improve on the 2-7 road record.

Tuesday, December 9 @ Chicago [First meeting of the teams this year.]

TEAM POSS EFF eFG TO OREB% FT/FG
New York Knicks-Offense 98 105.5 50.1 15.8 23.6 19.1
Rank
1
19
12
15
28
30
Chicago Bulls-Defense 94.8 106 48.4 16.5 29 25.6
Rank
5
15
8
12
26
23
New York Knicks-Defense 98 109.2 51.2 14.5 28.3 18.9
Rank
1
24
25
26
20
2
Chicago Bulls-Offense 94.8 103.4 47.1 16.5 27.6 24.1
Rank
5
23
24
20
9
16

Another Tuesday brings another tough game for the Knicks. The Knicks are 0-4 on Tuesdays so far this year. Let’s see if we can turn this thing around.

The Bulls come into this game with numbers very similar to those of the Knicks. Like the Knicks, the Bulls push the pace with 94.8 possessions per game (5th). The Bulls’ offensive efficiency (103.4, 22nd) trails the Knicks’ offensive efficiency (105.2, 19th). Furthermore, the Bulls’ eFG% of 47.1 (24th) is well behind the Knicks’ 49.8 (13th). One reason for this could be the Bulls’ lack of inside scoring.

The Bulls’ big men are not efficient scorers from close range. Aaron Gray leads the big men with an eFG% of 46.6 in 14 minutes per game. Behind Gray, the Bulls have Noah and Thomas with eFG% of 39.6 and 34.4 respectively. Compare that to David Lee’s 56.2 eFG%, and *gulp* Tim Thomas’ 51.8 (I know, but what other big man do we have?). The Bulls’ inside scoring troubles bode well for the Knicks as they struggle defending big men who can score inside.

What to watch for: Defense. The Knicks should focus on limiting penetration from Rose and open looks from Gordon (51.1 eFG%, 37.3 3p%) and Hughes (53.2 eFG%, 47.7 3p%).

What to watch for 2: Q. Richardson vs. Hughes/Gordon. Nate Robinson’s injury has moved Q to the shooting guard spot. What Q gives up in speed, he makes up for in strength. Q should take the same approach he took with Jamal Crawford defending him and take Hughes inside. When Thomas or Noah help, move the ball for a good shot.

What to watch for 3: More of the high pick & roll. Seven Seconds or Mess did a great job showing how the high pick & roll worked for the Knicks against the Blazers. New York should should employ the same approach in this game. Inexperienced players usually aren’t good at defending the pick & roll, so the Knicks should go at Rose and Noah/Gray/Thomas early with it.

What to watch for 4: Chi-town ties. Q and Chandler are from the area so they should be comfortable for this game. Meanwhile former Bulls Duhon and Thomas may feel they have scores to settle against their old team. You ever notice how nobody ever leaves the Bulls on good terms? When have you heard, “I really enjoyed my time with the Bulls organization and I look forward to returning some day.”

Wednesday, December 10 @ New Jersey [First meeting of the teams this year.]

TEAM POSS EFF eFG TO OREB% FT/FG
New York Knicks-Offense 98 105.5 50.1 15.8 23.6 19.1
Rank
1
19
12
15
28
30
New Jersey Nets-Defense 91 111.3 51.3 15.3 26 29
Rank
22
27
27
20
11
29
New York Knicks-Defense 98 109.2 51.2 14.5 28.3 18.9
Rank
1
24
25
26
20
2
New Jersey Nets-Offense 91 110.2 50 14.4 26.8 26.8
Rank
22
5
13
3
15
4

The Nets are a team of contrast. New Jersey is bad on defense, and their efficiency (111.3, 27th), and eFG% (51.3 %, 26th) are among the worst in the NBA. On the other hand, the Nets are strong on offense (110.2, 5th) and they take care of the ball (14.4 Turnovers, 2nd).

What to watch for: The Nets are over .500 due to the great play they are getting from Devin Harris. Harris leads all Eastern Conference PGs in PER (27.6), and scoring (24.5/36 min, 5th overall). He averages 0.8 3PM/36, which means he does most of his damage on the inside and at the free throw line (9.2 ftm/36). I have not seen him play this year, but those numbers indicate that Harris drives a lot. The Knicks need to give Harris room to take the jumper rather than let him get into his comfort zone of driving.

What to watch for 2: Defense. I have said this every week, but the Knicks need a strong defensive effort against teams that are efficient on offense. The Knicks’ defensive focus has to start with Harris. Duhon will need to play smart (stay out of foul trouble) as he may not have Nate to back him up.

Saturday, December 13 @ Sacramento [First meeting of the teams this year]

TEAM POSS EFF eFG TO OREB% FT/FG
New York Knicks-Offense 98 105.5 50.1 15.8 23.6 19.1
Rank
1
19
12
15
28
30
Sacramento Kings-Defense 92.7 112.9 52.8 15.9 29.5 25.8
Rank
10
29
29.5
13
29
25
New York Knicks-Defense 98 109.2 51.2 14.5 28.3 18.9
Rank
1
24
25
26
20
2
Sacramento Kings-Offense 92.7 103.7 49 17.2 26.7 21.7
Rank
10
21
16
25
16
21.5

The Kings are rebuilding around Kevin Martin, John Salmons, and uh…not much else. Sacramento is one of the worst defensive team in the NBA. They are 29th in defensive efficiency (112.9), tied for last in defensive eFG% with Golden State (52.8), and they don’t do well on the defensive glass giving up 29.5% of available defensive boards (29th). Only one team does it worse – you guessed it, the Warriors again. Their leading shot blocker is Hawes (1.8 per 36 minutes).

What to watch for: The Knicks should take the same approach they took against the Warriors with one exception – play better defense. The Kings are not strong on offense coming in 21st in offensive efficiency (103.7) and 15th in eFG% (15th). The Kings frequently turn over the ball (17.2, 24th), so added defensive pressure should bring those numbers up.

What to watch for 2: The Knicks should run the high pick & roll with Lee and Duhon against the Kings’ slow frontcourt players.

What to watch for 3: Push the pace. This game is the second of a back to back for the Kings. The Knicks come into this game on two days rest. The Knicks should push the pace and try to wear the Kings down. Hopefully, Nate, JJ, and Mobley (I’m still holding out hope) will be able to give us around 20-25 a night and help us keep the pressure on the Kings.