Game Preview & Thread: Knicks @ Nuggets

We noted in the Knicks-Blazers preview how rough this Western Conference road trip could potentially be and so far its been just that. The Knicks have fallen to the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers, and now must face a red-hot Denver Nuggets team.

To help get a better idea of what to expect out of the Nuggets-Knicks game tonight I brought in Nate Timmons from the SBNation site, DenverStiffs and Justin Faudree, a Nuggets fan, basketball observant and former Warriorsworld contributor.

The Denver Nuggets are currently riding a four game winning streak after getting off to a pretty rough start. What’s been the biggest reason for the Nuggets turnaround? 
Justin Faudree (@SmoothsHoops): The biggest reason for Denver’s turnaround is twofold: First, Ty Lawson has played like an MVP candidate, particularly on the offensive side of the floor. He’s basically averaging career highs in every statistical category. Brian Shaw’s pick-and-roll centric system has given him new life. Second, and perhaps most importantly, the Nuggets have gained a familiarity with each other and their coaches. Incorporating a mostly new coaching staff in addition to three new starters while dealing with injuries to those same players is not conducive to immediate success. Brian Shaw was going to need to be patient with this roster. And so far, it looks like that patience is beginning to pay off.
Nate Timmons (@Nate_Timmons) I think the turnaround can be attributed to the team gelling. Even with the guys returning from last year’s team, they are being asked to learn new things and to do things differently. Some old habits (switching everything) have been dying hard and just playing with new guys has taken some time. Also, the Nuggets are starting to shoot the ball better, they had some issues scoring the ball to kick things off and guys are now starting to hit shots that just were not falling in the first few games. And we can’t forget that adding Wilson Chandler and eliminating Anthony Randolph from starting at small forward has helped a lot too. Randolph is out of the rotation now and Chandler and Jordan Hamilton have been playing pretty well.
Ty Lawson is currently the only player on the Nuggets averaging more than 30 MPG, and the Knicks struggle mightily against great point guards. Is there anyway to really hinder Lawson from having a big night against the Knicks tonight? 
Justin: As mentioned above, Lawson is off to the best start of his career. The question is if he will be able to sustain such incredible production for the duration of the season. Against a defensively challenged team like the Knicks, he should have no problem. In my opinion, the only way New York can possibly slow Lawson is to give Iman Shumpert the assignment. In theory, limiting Denver’s offense shouldn’t be terribly difficult. That begins and ends with Ty Lawson. A defender with the size, speed, and strength of Iman Shumpert should do the trick. New York has very little chance otherwise.
Nate: The Knicks’ best bet would be to have Shumpert guard Lawson and ask Felton to guard Randy Foye. While Foye does move well without the ball and possesses a dangerous outside shot, he’s not going to kill Felton on offense. Putting a bigger guy on Lawson might work or it might be a disaster. I’m not sure Shumpert can stay in front of Ty, but if you can force Lawson to be a jump shooter or just a passer then you have a shot at keeping him somewhat quiet. Lawson’s attacking the paint game typically ignites his outside game, so do what you can to keep him from penetrating the defense. The Knicks’ biggest problem is going to be finding shot blockers to challenge Lawson once he gets by his man. His shot can be blocked, but without elite rim protectors … he should feast.
The Nuggets have the sixth best ORtg in the league, but are just 20th in DRtg. Where are the Nuggets liable defensively and how can the Knicks look to exploit those holes?
Justin: Denver has defensive liabilities everywhere — particularly in the starting lineup. While Lawson is off to a great start offensively, he provides very little resistance on the defensive end. The Nuggets give up around 16 extra points per 100 possessions with Ty on the court as opposed to when he sits. That’s the very definition of liability. The other position where Denver is most vulnerable is at power forward/center, where Kenneth Faried and J.J. Hickson give up points like they’re going out of style. How Brian Shaw continues to pair Lawson and Faried in the starting lineup when they give up so much defensively is a wonder. Denver has no one to guard Carmelo Anthony when Mike Woodson plays him at the four — unless Shaw counters with Wilson Chandler (which would render Faried unplayable, as no one wants to see him guarding Bargnani on the perimeter). Denver’s best defensive unit is their bench. It remains to be seen how Brian Shaw divvies up those minutes.

Nate: If Tyson Chandler was healthy, the pick and roll he runs with Felton would be one place that New York could thrive. So, the pick and roll is one spot. Denver has been doing a little more switching in the PnR department lately instead of what they were trying to do early in the season and that’s hedge-and-recover with the power forward and catch-and-recover with the center. I do not like the switching as it leads to mismatches … Melo being covered by Foye and Lawson will not be good for the Nuggets.

If the Knicks hit the offensive glass, they might be able to catch the Nuggets off-guard too as Denver’s bigs like to rebound with athleticism, not fundamentals, and they like to leak out a bit too. Denver’s perimeter defense has been okay, especially with Chandler back in the mix – but I always worry about open threes for the Nuggets’ opponents.
Besides Lawson, why do you think the Nuggets’ offense has been good as it has been, even with pieces that perhaps don’t necessarily fit into Brian Shaw’s scheme? 

Justin: This is an excellent question for which there may be no answer. I think Lawson is the be-all and end-all when it comes to Denver’s offensive success (especially in the half court). Like with George Karl, the Nuggets do most of their damage in transition, as you will see Kenneth Faried give up a basket on one end and then immediately leak-out for an easy dunk at the other. Other than that, Jordan Hamilton’s rebounding and shooting touch has been a bright spot.Nate: One reason why is Kenneth Faried. The guy just flat out plays harder than anyone else on the court. To play against him has to be super annoying. He’s a force on the offensive glass and can clean up a lot of mistakes. The Nuggets also have a pretty good thing going with their rotation. Lawson is the main feature, Foye hits threes, Chandler can do a little bit of it all, Faried rebounds, J.J. Hickson looks good in the pick-and-roll, in the post, and hitting jumpers for the starting unit. Off the bench: Robinson can come in and light it up, Andre Miller is still an offensive force (weird word, but true) in the post, driving or dishing, Evan Fournier can drive and he can hit threes,Hamilton has been consistent, Darrell Arthur plays the pick-and-pop well, and Timofey Mozgov has shown flashes in the post and away from the basket too.

It’s a fun team and a team that has been told over-and-over by the coach that they have to play really well every night if they want to win. They are not going to waltz in and win based off their superior talent because they don’t have that advantage. But the puzzle pieces have looked better than advertised.
Who ultimately wins tonight and why?
Justin: I give Denver the edge tonight for one reason: Home court advantage. I do wonder if the Knicks decided to stay in Denver for Thanksgiving. If so, that might give them a leg up over most other visitors in that they will have been acclimated to the altitude for at least one full night. Beyond the Nuggets’ home court prowess, I just don’t think New York has the defensive chops to keep Denver in check over a full four quarters. Lawson’s speed wears opponents down — particularly at home.
Nate: I think the Nuggets win this game. Denver will let teams back into games, so I’m expecting a close game. I think Denver’s ability to penetrate the paint is going to be a problem and I think their will to outwork teams is going to come into play. The Knicks’ defense is going to be a problem for the Melo man and his teammates and I expect the Nuggets to be able to get whatever shots they want.
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Chase Thomas

Chase Thomas is new to KnickerBlogger but has written about the Knicks for years now. Was in attendance for Nate Robinson's 41 point night versus the Hawks. Successfully annoyed Allan Houston's assistant for talking his ear off while sitting next to him at a Knicks game 3 years ago. Follow him on twitter:

152 thoughts to “Game Preview & Thread: Knicks @ Nuggets”

  1. At the risk of being viewed as a simpleton, I hope the Knicks win this (and every) game. I think the key for the Knicks is to limit the Nuggets transition opportunities. So, lots of Post Up ‘Melo and guards retreating on the release.

  2. I predicted losses and ties and that didn’t matter, either, so me predicting a win doesn’t matter! I predicted that they’d beat the Hawks! Come on, Knicks, don’t make me a jinx!

  3. Watching the Nets game, if Aaron Brooks keeps up his strong play, maybe the Rockets should trade Lin. They could get something really good for him right now (well, when he comes back from the knee injury, of course).

  4. It would make sense for Woodson to put Shumpert on Lawson. I mean shoudn’t your supposed stopper wing cover the opposition’s best wing.

  5. As the only guy still pulling for Anthony Randolph, I continue to be amazed at how teams play him at the 3 and then get amazed when he sucks. He is not a 3!! He is a 4!

  6. Maybe I should scratch my Shumpophilia. Randy Foye went right around him for a layup on the first possession.

  7. As always, Bargs can play all the shitty d he wants if he is going to hit shots like this! What a three.

  8. Oh, that last second three at the end of the first. So harsh. How does that happen twice in five games?

  9. Told my wife we could forego the rest of the game if the Knicks fell behind by ten after one. Miller’s lucky bounce clinches it. Good luck, fellas. See you next game.

  10. How to close out quarters:

    Always make the opposing PG catch the ball facing (and heading towards) the in-bounds pass.

    Knicks cost themselves 3 points by allowing Miller to catch heading up court.

  11. I would so like to see more than one or two passes after the ball crosses halfcourt. Denver seems to have three or four most possessions and coincidentally or not an open look. As I typed (slowly) my wish was granted.

  12. Udrih has got to be one of the worst shooters within 15′. I’m not sure of the last time I saw him make something outside of crazy circus shots.

  13. Despite the fact that we’ve looked awful at every opportunity, we’re only down 6. I’m not sure if that’s a testament to the Knicks or what, but I’ll admit I was more than half expecting to be down 20 at this point.

  14. Bargs, remember what I said about how the hitting shots thing makes up for the D? So please start doing that again.

    EDITED TO ADD: AS I wrote that, he hit a shot. Thanks, Bargs!

  15. Man, when they go to the rim they look so good. And when Denver doesn’t, they look so bad.

  16. The guards on this team are just so ridiculously bad. Knick guards are 5-17 from the floor in this game and have generated 2 free throw attempts.

  17. Trailing by six is not so bad. They really need to make a move when Lawson gets his rest in the third.

  18. Haha, so true, so true. But luckily Denver’s D is so bad that the Knicks could totally take this baby.

  19. This is one game where the Knicks are actually playing an okay floor game, but they just cannot make a perimeter shot to save their lives. 1-11 from 3PT. They only have 2 turnovers, they’ve kept the free throw battle pretty much even, and they’re even rebounding okay but the shooting… WHYYYYYYY

  20. So one of our 2 best lineups before Felton was injured (best excluding Chandler) was Felton/JR/Shumpert/Melo/Bargs. That lineup had not been played since Felton returned from injury until tonight. Result: Down by 12, the lead has now been cut to 6 in the last 5:50 of 2nd quarter when that unit was in game. Obviously no real conclusion can be drawn but this question must be asked: Why did Woody wait so long?

  21. If they just win this game they’ll be just two games out in the loss column. Two games! Come on, Knicks, pull this baby out!

  22. Nets got blown out in Houston. They lost by 19 and that was with Plumlee scoring 6 straight garbage time points to make it look closer.

  23. Paul went out last game and they couldn’t capitalize. They really have to capitalize on Faried’s absence.

  24. Hickson is such a moron, trying to keep on posting Bargs when Bargs has, like, seventeen inches on him. So dumb.

  25. This team is so incredibly unrewarding to watch. It seems like every game, they’re just trailing wire to wire. They never really go on a run of sustained quality play.

  26. @43
    The only way to advantage of Faried’s injury would be to get to the paint, and well you know.

  27. This team is so incredibly unrewarding to watch. It seems like every game, they’re just trailing wire to wire. They never really go on a run of sustained quality play.


    On a side note, Westbrook hits a crazy 3 on an absurd sequence to win the game over GS.

  28. When Andre Miller–easily the slowest pg in the history of….well history–blows right by you.

  29. This is what they had to do. When Lawson is out, they had to make a move and they’re doing it!!

  30. THJ might be the one bright spot. Though now that it is down four with Bargs going to the line they may get an ugly win too.

  31. Our guards are so phucking pathetic, aside from this temporary th2 spurt. Yea. I get that amare is terrible right now and maybe forever but our guards are embarrassing, cause they can’t claim 13.5 knee surgeries… They should look in the mirror and berate themselves. Defense doesn’t exist.

  32. I can’t quite explain it but there is something about the Nuggets’ uniform that makes me want to watch Mork and Mindy.

  33. Take out TH2, who’s at least shooting ok. Put in JR, who’s currently proving he’s the single most over paid player in the league.

    I’m finding it harder and harder to defend Woodson. This is going to bite us in the ass.

  34. Jr smith over th2. Not this season. Phuck Jr smith. We should unload that piece of garbage as soon as possible. If he happens to win the game tonight he can still eat $hit

  35. THJR rims out a putback, Melo’s 3pter rims out, JR misses another wide ass open 3pter. This team has played like horseshit but tonight they certainly arent getting any breaks from the basketball gods.

  36. Even if we pulled out a victory here, it would be fool’s gold. The single most disturbing thing I’ve noticed in this car-fire of a streak is that virtually nothing has changed in the way the team has played, save for the a slight reduction in the switching. Rudderless is the only word that comes to mind.

  37. That no call is the game. Instead of Melo going to the line for 2 to tie the game the Nuggets come down the other way and hit a 3pter.

  38. JJ Hickson, Nate Robinson, Jordan Hamilton, Anthony Randolph…the Nuggets seriously have more dumb players than the Knicks!

  39. JJ Hickson, Nate Robinson, Jordan Hamilton, Anthony Randolph…the Nuggets seriously have more dumb players than the Knicks!

    And yet, they’re the odds on favorite to win this game. Go figure.

  40. Hardaway has two big blocks, hits two huge threes…gets benched. Mike Woodson’s unique brand of accountability.

  41. Bigblue. I agree there was a lot of body, but of the egregious contact Melo gets, that one seemed strong, yet conservative, on chandlers part … But yes a potential 5 pt swing none the less …

  42. And yet, they’re the odds on favorite to win this game. Go figure.

    Because the Nuggets benched their dumb players. Woody rewards JR.

  43. Honest to God Woodson’s freaking obsession with JR is beyond idiotic. Any other head coach in the league does not have JR in the game right now.

  44. It is astonishing how Miller is still an effective player. The guy looks so out of shape and old!!! His passes have little crispness to them. And yet he still works it out.

  45. Well the game slipped back away pretty fast. JR dawdles away to take a contested turnaround. Foye hits an open corner three. Different night sane story.

  46. JJ Hickson, Nate Robinson, Jordan Hamilton, Anthony Randolph…the Nuggets seriously have more dumb players than the Knicks!

    And Javale McGee isn’t even playing! When he’s healthy the Nuggets can put an all-stupid All-Star team on the floor– Nate Rob, Hamilton, Ant Rand, Hickson and McGee.

  47. And another one. Is just about over. I was out tonight for a bit. And now I’m home, and I’m disgusted again. I got home early and sure enough I was excited to catch the end of my Knicks game. Oh yay! Lets watch! Oh phuck.

  48. It is astonishing how Miller is still an effective player. The guy looks so out of shape and old!!! His passes have little crispness to them. And yet he still works it out.

    I bet that Nugget fans have the same reaction to other fans/announcers being amazed that Miller can still play that we do when others do the same with K-Mart.

  49. It is astonishing how Miller is still an effective player. The guy looks so out of shape and old!!! His passes have little crispness to them. And yet he still works it out.

    He is the inspiration for Uncle Drew.

  50. I bet that Nugget fans have the same reaction to other fans/announcers being amazed that Miller can still play that we do when others do the same with K-Mart.

    But K-Mart looks good out there at least. It’s surprising until you actually see him play and then you get why he is good. Miller you see play and it still seems amazing that he is still good.

  51. JR did not touch the ball. If he had, he would have taken a contested turnaround 85ft jumper with 23 seconds on the clock.

  52. How fucking hilarious is it that the Nuggets left Hickson out there? It is like a gift horse! Why is Shaw shocked? He left him in the game! It’s your fault, moron!

  53. If the Knicks somehow win this game, they should send a bouquet of flowers to Shaw for continuing to leave Hickson in there. The Nuggets aren’t posting and the Knicks aren’t either, so why is he still in the game?

  54. If past performance is any indicator for future action, then Shump will be benched the next game for that little stunt where he secured the ball and scored.

  55. Woodson is actually outcoaching somebody.

    Right? Rookie coach, but man, an embarrassing job by Shaw tonight.

  56. He had Randy Foye on him one on one. I think he sort of had to take that shot. Foye just came up huge. Can’t get on Melo too much for that besides, you know, getting blocked by Randy fuckin’ Foye on an isolation in the post with a chance to tie the game as time expired.

  57. Great Simmons line

    Phil Jackson ran the Triangle offense. Mike Brown runs the “If you cross midcourt with the ball, you get to keep it and shoot” offense.

  58. He had Randy Foye on him one on one. I think he sort of had to take that shot. Foye just came up huge. Can’t get on Melo too much for that besides, you know, getting blocked by Randy fuckin’ Foye on a chance to tie the game as time expired.

    That’s the risk you taking going hero ball. You make the shot, you’re the hero. You miss (or get blocked by a guy like a foot shorter than you), and you’re a scrub for the night.

  59. I want to hear from Alan and Wally about how you can’t blame Melo for getting blocked by Foye on an iso in the post at the end of the game.

  60. Seriously?
    A fall away jumper after just dribbling the clock down?
    Anyone in the building that didn’t know what he was doing?
    Why not take it to the glass and force them to foul you and get an old school 3?
    I’m not surprised it happened, but I’m getting pretty tired of this show.

  61. i stayed away tonight to spare everyone from my negativity, but now that the game is over…………why do we always have the same stupid strategy on the last possession of games??? when melo came here, everyone cited some ridiculous manufactured small sample size stat that was supposed to suggest that melo was the best last possession shot maker in the NBA. well, I think that he has regressed to the mean with the Knicks. It seems like he is about 1-15 in those situations over the last few years, and yet we do the same thing again and again. iso for melo. at least he took this one to the post. I like that better than dribbling aimlessly just to shot 20 footer

  62. The problem wasnt Melo going one-on-one against Foye. Thats a mismatch all day for Melo. The problem was holding the ball for the final shot when you are losing and not tied. Plus taking a fadeaway instead of muscling himself to the basket against someone half your size.

    Plus if he took it aggressive to the basket early it wouldve probably forced a double team which couldve lead to an open 3pter but I doubt Melo wouldve passed it anyway.

  63. Okay, they’re actually giving him shit. Honestly, it’s funny, I think they’re actually giving him TOO much shit.

  64. Shaw is bad tonight, but leaving Foye on Melo to lock in at worst a two pointer to tie was smart.

  65. im pissed about the melo last shot but lets not overlook the fact that Felton and JR were trying to outdo each other for who can suck the hardest all game

  66. Brian: it was a bad shot. If they rolled in a dump truck full of manure, dumped it. Left and returned with another load and dumped it, it wouldn’t be too much shit.
    It was not only a big game shot, it was the biggest shot of the season to date, and Melo did what people on his team are complaining about.
    Ball just stops.
    He should have taken the smaller man to glass and if Denver collapsed, find an open teammate. A fall away…about as creative as he can get.
    Terrible. Biggest shot of the year and that’s what he tried.

  67. Surely if the Knicks lose their next two games Woody is done. If they lose the next game against New Orleans, the nationally televised game against the Nets is going to be a circus.

    I can’t imagine Woody would survive a loss in that game against the Nets.

  68. I don’t mind Melo with the ball at the end, but I would have liked to have him catch the ball near the elbow so he could face up. He is much better when he has the option of faking/jab stepping then making a move than he is backing down a defender. There was enough time to run a play or move the ball a bit.

    Were we out of time outs?

  69. And why pull Hardaway, who got you two blocks and two threes, for JR?
    Thus man crush needs to end

  70. Yes. They would definitely have called time out otherwise.

    I take nothing for granted with this coach.

  71. Apparently Woodson said after the game that Iman AND JR were alot better tonight. Unbelievable the freaking trance JR has Woodson under. Dont get me wrong JR didnt dog it defensively tonight and was hustling (6 rebs, 2 stls) but Im sorry no way you can accept the way he is playing offense right now and let him get away with it especially when you had someone like THJR playing well tonight yet you still pulled him from the game to reinsert a struggling JR. Dunno how you can preach accountability when you make decisions like that.

  72. Every team in the NBA would iso there. The only question is whether he should have faded away with the shot or not. Every team in the league would have isoed there. Denver would have isoed there. Spurs would have isoed there. Warriors, Thunder, Heat, Pacers, everyone. Iso was not the problem there. It was just a bad idea to fade away, not to iso.

  73. bargs ends up being one of the most competent and confident players on the floor, after he ststarts the season terribly. I’m not so sure it’s relative either. Our team stinks. Look at these guys out there. They’re one or zero dimensional… I think were all delusional to think we have more than 3.or 4. Plus players.

  74. Just saw a pic of the replay of Melo’s last shot, Foye got all wrist. Wasnt anywhere near the ball.

  75. They shoulda ran something. Just a little bit. They were losing. It wasn’t tied. Run a play… I don’t Care if melo takes the shot and misses but work through some options along the way. U never know what will open up. And if nothing does u can still have ur alleged superstar taking the final shot

  76. Wally is making some weird points. I get “I think he got a piece of the ball” (I agree. I think Foye got ball, Al) but “I played. You have to accept whatever the ref calls.” Gah?

  77. Tickets aren’t cheap enough yet! Raptor tickets on December 27th are $118 at the cheapest! WTF?

  78. I’m going to the game Sunday night. Can we please not rip my guts out in person?

    That one game seems reasonable enough (price-wise) that I might take my wife to the game, as well.

  79. Knicks w/ TS% over .540 going into the game: Prigs, Tyson, Kmart. Combined court time: 19 min. I think I see a problem.

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