Game Preview and Thread: Nets @ Knicks

New York Basketball is back! Erm, well, that might be a stretch. Although the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks are both playing well at this point in time. The Nets are a playoff lock, but the Knicks are still on the outside looking in. The Knicks are only one game out of the eight spot, so they really need to win this one. To get a better idea of what to expect out of the reborn Nets I brought in Tom Lorenzo of Nets Daily to preview tonight’s game.

Things are going pretty well in Brooklyn in 2014. What’s been the biggest reason(s) for their turnaround? Is it somewhat concerning that the team is playing this well without Brook Lopez?

Tom: Most of it has to do with the team getting a chance to gel, get comfortable playing with each other. It also has to do with Jason Kidd finding the right system that works best with the personnel he has. I don’t think anyone thought this team would or even could play as poorly as they did at the start of the season, but when you have so many new pieces, are dealing with a number of injuries and have a coach who has yet to define his own style and system, it was expected that they’d struggle. Not to the point where they’d go 10-22, but this whole “process,” as Kidd likes to call it, just needed some time to work itself out.

I don’t think they’re necessarily concerned about the team playing well without Lopez, simply because, first, his health going forward will continue to be an issue and you can’t build a team or a system around a guy who can’t stay healthy, and, secondly, if he does stay healthy they now have a movable piece. So, there doesn’t seem to be a great concern, but I think that’s because they have high expectations for Lopez and, well, he’s an All-Star talent. The can coach the system to fit his skill set.

Since coming over from the Sacramento Kings in a trade earlier this season Marcus Thornton has blossomed with the Nets. He’s jacking up 7.8 threes per 36 minutes, but he’s making them at a 38 percent clip. How has head coach Jason Kidd been able to turn a gunner like Thornton into an efficient player with the Nets? Do you see it lasting?

Tom: Thornton has always been a boom or bust guy, but it just happened to turn out that in his final year-plus with the Kings he was more bust than boom. I also think the spread system, the Nets are hitting a bunch of threes lately and really the team is playing more to Thornton’s strengths — not necessarily intentionally, but he’s fitting in to Kidd’s small-ball, outside-shooting system.

A lot of analysts cite Kevin Garnett’s move to the 5 as a big reason for the Nets improvement in 2014 along with Paul Pierce and Andrei Kirilenko playing the 4. Has the Nets “small ball” adjustment been as crucial as it appears to have been?

Tom: Funny thing is, Kevin Garnett has missed the team’s last month, and they’ve gone 13-4 without him. Mason Plumlee has been a huge boon for the Nets, especially with what he brings as an athletic big. Garnett was (and is) supposed to be the defensive anchor for this team, but the Nets have played their best defense with Paul Pierce at the ‘4’ and Plumlee at the ‘5.’ That’s not to say they don’t miss Garnett, but they haven’t missed a beat without him.

You could make the case the Nets have one of the deepest benches in the league. Who would you say has been the most vital off the bench for Kidd? Shaun Livingston, Andray Blatche, Mirza Teletovic or even Mason Plumlee?

Tom: Livingston has moved to the starting lineup with Brook Lopez out, with Joe Johnson sliding to the ‘3’ and Pierce to the ‘4,’ and Plumlee has been starting at the ‘5’ with Garnett out, so they don’t necessarily feel like bench players — especially not Livingston, who will continue to start even when Garnett comes back, while Plumlee will move back to the bench. I think the most important player, actually, has been Andrei Kirilenko. He’s been battling injuries, too, but when he’s healthy the Nets are at their best. He doesn’t show up in the box score, but he allows for the Nets to play longer and quicker on both ends of the floor, and he’s one of the best on- and off-the-ball defenders in the game. I think he’s the most important player off the bench, with Andray Blatche and what he brings offensively coming in at a close second.

Who ultimately wins tonight and why?

Tom: To be honest, I think the Knicks have a better shot at winning. The Nets are coming off a back-to-back set, playing the Rockets on Tuesday night, they are shorthanded, and playing on the road. Also, the game means more to the Knicks than it does to the Nets, who are playoff-bound. So, I guess I think the Knicks are going to win this one, but I do think it will be close.

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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:

126 thoughts to “Game Preview and Thread: Nets @ Knicks”

  1. No one has commented here ESPN ranking our front office the worst of all 30 teams in the NBA. I know we are bad, but I would have ranked Milwaukee and Detroit even lower. Any thoughts?

  2. Well Detroit and Milwaukee have smaller markets and less money. The Knicks have limitless money and have shot themselves in the foot for the better part of the last decade and a half. Detroit has been bad recently (Ben Gordon and Villanueva? Josh Smith and Jennings with their front court?). But it isn’t that long ago that they were the cream of the East. Milwaukee I know basically nothing about but again they would probably struggle to buy anyone even if they could afford max money. Knicks just accumulate one bloated, useless contract after another and have a perennial fire sale on their draft picks.

  3. Trading for Bargnani was bad, but even considering we gave up a 2016 first for him at least we got cap relief in 2015. There is no positive Detroit can take in signing Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings to deals that won’t expire for another 3 years. ESPN just likes to troll anything the Knicks do as much as possible. Like last season we won 54 games and apparently it was a fluke and unsustainable because we shot a lot of threes, even though the Spurs and Heat both jack up a ton of threes.

  4. Detroit has been bad since about 2009. Can’t keep living off of the glory of a 2004 Finals win and 2005 Finals runner-up. The moment they signed Villaneuva and Gordon to bloated 5-year deals in 2009 they wrote their own fate. Again the Bargs trade sucked a lot, but at least the Knicks got some more immediate cap relief out of it. The Pistons literally have been terrible for 5 years and the only thing they’ve done well in that time is draft Drummond. There is literally no value in or market for Josh Smith on a max deal and Jennings make $9m per until 2017.

  5. The ranking seems like it ought to depend on how much time it covers. If you have been signing horrible deals with stars, hired bad coaches, and drafting badly for the last five years, that’s puts your front office at the bottom in my estimation. It’s long enough to be reasonable, but not so long that all the personnel have changed. The Knicks have drafted reasonably well, they made the playoffs last year and are still fighting for a spot this year. Detroit hasn’t come close (except for Drummond) and has been consistently under a .400 win percentage. And I don’t think it’s fair to say the Knicks have more money. The new salary cap seems to really work like a salary cap. They couldn’t sign both Copeland and Prigioni last year no matter what they did because of salary cap issues. The Knicks do have enough money to spend whatever the cap let’s them, but a lot of teams are in that circumstance.

  6. The Nets and Knicks are an interesting comparison.

    Around December, the two teams were neck and neck in the toilet. Brooklyn identified Frank as the problem, fired him, and turned things around.

    At the same time, Woodson presented himself as the indisputable largest problem on the Knicks, we did nothing, and now here we are.

  7. Also interesting: the Nets turned it around by going small and playing two PG’s, despite the East being big. Go figure.

  8. Livingston has been an incredible story for the Nets. He’s getting $1 million and has attempted 6 3s all year and seems to never play outside of himself. He is the anti-Josh Smith. Or, Delonte West without the baggage. What a turnaround this year has been for Kidd. The whole thing looked weeks from unraveling in December, with some chance that he never gets another HC gig again, and now you have a decently performing team with a winnable first round matchup making interesting use of guys like Livingston, Plumlee and Teletovic and playing without Lopez and largely without Garnett & AK47. If the Phil Jackson thing hadn’t happened, the Nets/Kidd/the bad guys in Red Dawn having a chance to effectively knock the Knicks out of the playoffs at the Garden tonight would have the Dolan disgustometer threatening its all time peak.

  9. You guys are arguing, basically, about whether the Knicks FO should be 30th or like 25th…either way we’re bad. Thinking ESPN has some inherent bias to troll Knick fans is ridiculous. We”re a destination market with more money than some countries, and still we’ve been the laughing stock of the league (not to mention a dumping ground for bad contracts in exchange for good draft picks). You can argue that we’re the 27th worst managed team in the league as opposed to 30th…but really, to what end?

    Oh, and Dolan was ranked as the worst owner in the league as well.

  10. Good JR + effective Amar’e = Good offense. Bad defense too…but we can’t have it all.

  11. hells yeah! let’s keep it going. Good JR so much better than his twin brother

  12. The Knicks are looking good really good. How awesome is seeing THJ healthy?

  13. Jason Kidd has a a gray beard. He was playing in the National Basketball Association less than a year ago.

  14. And Shump even finished at the rim! We can’t lose now! It would be such a waste.

  15. I am really looking forward to the atmosphere at Friday night’s game now. Win or lose tonight (although, obviously win would be better).

  16. Remember that game when the Nets basically ran them out of the building? I am liking this game more than that one.

  17. Woodson had gone super small.

    THJ/Shumpert/Smith at 2, 3 and 4. Great defense. Lots of steals, thanks to Shumpert and transition baskets. Amazingly, the Knicks are holding their own on the boards.

  18. This is like bizarro-world Knicks: Shump is finishing, Hardaway & Amar’e playing good D, and Melo getting out on fast breaks. Even Pablo finished on a PnR.

  19. I will say this about Melo: He will post Amar’e up and calls it out for him a lot even if he is not the entry passer

  20. I like that Amar’e got fouled but Felton or Hardaway should have cut to the basket instead of staying on the weakside.

  21. What a first half from Shump. He disrupted something like 1/3 of the plays he was in defensively.

  22. I’m awaiting the inevitable collapse (whether tonight or whenever), but for now I’m just drinking in the moment.

  23. Just like last year, if Melo and JR are both hot, you cannot defend this team. It’s impossible.

  24. quick game recap suggestion/ request. GIFs of all the Phil Jackson cutaways and lip-reading analysis. I rewound the dvr ten times trying to figure out what he was saying after the shump steal and and 1 layup, just to try to get in his head. he was either talking about how awesome shump is, how stupid it was that he didnt pass to timmay, or was talking shit about woodson…or something else. i just want to know what he is thinking

  25. Our offense has looked awful this quarter. Wouldn’t be surprised if we lost this game.

  26. I like how Van Gundy is saying that MCW and Oladipo are on “bad teams” so they shouldn’t get as much recognition for rookie of the year. The Knicks aren’t a bad team? haha

    Also, that’s a flagrant.

  27. Fucking Felton. Gonna play hurt because he’s a tough guy…the problem is he’s even more worthless then. He really shouldn’t play until he’s healthy; for his sake…and for ours.

  28. Remember when Plumlee, Green, and a #1 for Scola was a steal?

    Yeah, it was never a steal. Just better than the Bargs trade.

  29. I love how they went from almost letting them back into it to just stepping on their throats. So great. Congrats, you shaved four points off of a 25-point lead! Good job, Nets!

  30. TH2 is a feast or famine kind of player and tonight he’s feasting.

    What’s the alternative to that? Famining? Faminizing? How does one actively engage in a famine?

  31. Haha. JVG just said “you really have to prepare for [the Knicks switching]” like it was hard.

  32. Chicago is taking care of business. The Hawks are surprisingly feisty now that Korver is kind of healthy.

  33. Goddammit. They’ve sucked me back in and now I want to make the playoffs and think we can give Indiana a good series.

  34. As part of the 5-2, we were counting this as one of the 5, right? With the game in Brooklyn as the 2 along with the Miami game? Or was the Chicago game the other 2 and we were counting both Brooklyn games as wins? I am just wondering if this game (as awesome as it is) was a “surprise” or not.

  35. Goddammit. They’ve sucked me back in and now I want to make the playoffs and think we can give Indiana a good series.

    Trouble is we’re gonna play Miami if Indiana keeps imploding like they have been.

  36. I am just wondering if this game (as awesome as it is) was a “surprise” or not.

    Oh, it’s been a surprise all right.

  37. Dear Phil Jackson,

    Please do not, as one of your first moves, bring in Lamar Odom.

    Thank you,

  38. Oh great. Lamar Odom wants to play for us next year.

    I can see him as a coach, but no way is he still a player.

  39. 27 point lead and 6 minutes to go as the bench gets emptied. Let’s not have a repeat of Philly please.

  40. No this was a must win. It is also a must lose for Atlanta.

    Okay, so this WAS one of the 5 games we were kind of sort of depending on, right? That takes a teensy, teensy bit of fun out of this game (but only a teensy bit. It is still an amazing game. Just amazing).

  41. The Bulls are pulling away at 85-73 with 9 to go.

    Why are Chandler, Anthony, and Smith for that matter still in the game?
    I think the Nets starters are out…what’s am I missing?

  42. It’s bizarre that Chandler is so good at catching and converting lobs but so bad at catching passes at waist level.

  43. Brian, this was a had to have game.

    The Chicago game at home is also vital.

    I’ve been counting at miami and at Brooklyn as losses, along w 1-1 v Toronto. Any of those would be a surprise.

  44. i dont understand why everyone wants indiana. we are going to have to play miami eventually, so why not in the first round. i fukkin hate miami and i would want nothing more to take them on. they are one injury from being somewhat succeptable

  45. @80 I have always thought the same. Tyson Chandler would be the world’s best water polo player.

  46. If Lamar Odom is clean, sober and healthy, he can have the Kurt Thomas roster slot.

  47. i would highly endorse counting that chicago game as a probable loss. i think that is the game that we are least likely to win

  48. Did y’all see this from Al Iannazzone’s twitter?

    @Al_Iannazzone: Woodson on why Nets fixed things faster than Knicks: “Maybe the key guys that we lost were more valuable to our team versus what they lost.”

  49. Maxwell I think that is the game we need to win to make the playoffs. And I think we will win it. I’m thinking Melo on Easter all over again.

  50. As part of the 5-2, we were counting this as one of the 5, right? With the game in Brooklyn as the 2 along with the Miami game? Or was the Chicago game the other 2 and we were counting both Brooklyn games as wins? I am just wondering if this game (as awesome as it is) was a “surprise” or not.

    I was counting both bk games as wins and chi and Miami as the losses in the 5-2

  51. Why chant Brooklyn sucks? Brooklyn is a huge part of or fan base.

    What we should do is either turn their chant against them (broooklyn should be mocking), or do a neeeeeewwwwww yooooork

  52. i dont know hubert. the bulls are going to play hard every night, no matter what. the heat may take a game off, may rest people, etc, and we also have had better success against the Heat for reasons vaguely described as “Felton’s playmaking off the dribble” (I know that makes no sense). The Nets just arent that good IMO, so i rate the bulls game as the toughest. of course, we could crap the bed against anyone

  53. if tyler really works with NBA people this summer, does anyone else think we could be OK going with tyler and country cole at center next year? i just see potential in tyler. if we could get assets for chandler, im just saying

  54. Turn on the ATL/CHI game on League Pass and the stadium is half empty and lifeless. For a team fighting to make the playoffs, I’ve seen better crowds at Summer League games.

  55. Dominique is only of the only local analysts who shows no sign at all of being a homer. But I think it is because he actively roots against the Hawks.

  56. Dominique is only of the only local analysts who shows no sign at all of being a homer. But I think it is because he actively roots against the Hawks.

    I’d throw our man Clyde into that category as well. I might be biased, but I really believe he’s the best local color commentator in the league.

  57. Clyde he’s awesome but he is biased and that’s fine by me … Love his “git outta there” when shot of opposing team hanging on the rim

  58. Atlanta is a joke. I really think the NBA may actively rig some games to get the Knicks in over the Hawks. The Knicks will be a way bigger ratings draw and the Garden will sell out in about 5 seconds. I think if the Knicks had to play their home games in Atlanta in the first round they would be a bigger draw than the Hawks.

  59. In the quest for the 8th spot:
    Important game Friday night: Cavs @ Hawks.
    The Cavs have been playing quite well (see tonight’s Orlando game) and have quite an easy schedule (and have Irving back). Cavs will be 2 games back Knicks/Hawks assuming Hawks loss.

    Cavs remaining:
    Fri, Apr 4
    @Atlanta Win?
    vsCharlotte Loss?
    vsDetroit Win
    @Milwaukee Win
    vsBoston Win
    vs Brooklyn ???? (will Brooklyn be resting?)
    So let’s call that 4-2 (or 5-1 though that’d be quite a finish). That’d get them to 35/36 wins.

    Hawks’ sched:
    vs. Cleveland Loss
    @Indiana Loss
    vsDetroit Win
    vsBoston Win
    @Brooklyn Loss
    vs Miami Loss
    vs Charlotte Loss
    @Milwaukee Win
    That’d be 3-5. 35 wins. (Could see them 2-6 or 4-4 though…or 0-8)

    Knicks’ sched:
    Vs. Washington (Think we’ll win this one or Miami, not both)
    @ Miami See above
    @ Toronto Loss
    vs. Chicago (Let’s say the all win of these, not both)
    @ Brooklyn
    vs. Toronto Win
    That’d be 3-3. 36 wins. Even if Cleveland gets 36, Knicks will have a better conference record (series 2-2).

    Should be close til the end. Unless, Atlanta wins Friday, then implode.

  60. Knicks are officially percentage points ahead of the Hawks! .434 to .432 to be exact. The Cavs are scary though, soft schedule plus they got Kyrie back tonight

  61. Did anyone else notice the scores so far this years Knicks v. Nets?
    113-83, 80-103, 110-81. Feisty.

  62. i know we lose the tie breaker to atlanta, but what happens in case of the 3-way tie? does that change the tie breaker analysis??? yeah, I know, i need something better to worry about

  63. it’s games like this that make me go “What if??!” (re: Cavs game, Lakers game) so much harder……

  64. 3 way tie is best record amongst 3 tied teams against each other, and then conference record

    ATL 4-2
    knicks 4-4
    Cleveland 2-4

    so ATL has clinched that.
    But we do have the tie-breaker against Cleveland via conference record, which certainly could matter.

  65. Cavs game worse than Lakers as it cost the Knicks the tie breaker….

    pretty arbitrary these conferences, in that the west is so much tougher, so it’s more impressive to have a better record against the west than the east, but the opposite is what is more valuable.

    Of course, hard to complain when your team is trying to make the playoffs with a losing record, and would be 12 games out in the other conference.

  66. You know the Cavs game sucked but it wasn’t a complete no effort performance and more of a Woodson special with poor execution on both sides of the ball down the stretch. The games that really stick out to me are 40+ home loss to the Celtics (on the heels of two 30+ victories), @ Milwaukee a.k.a. the Brandon Knight game, home against Philly, @ Orlando and @ LAL. Those are the five losses to me where it looked like we went through the motions and did it against teams where one half of disciplined play would have done the trick.

  67. Friday’s game is beyond huge. Win that game and Cavs win in Atlanta the Knicks with 5 games left are in the driver’s seat.

  68. It sucks that Washington is definitely going to be going for it on Friday, as there is a ginormous difference between playing the Raptors in the first round and playing the Pacers and currently the Wizards are two up on the Bobcats for the #7 seed.

    So yeah, Friday’s game might very well decide the season. I’m glad I’ll be at the Garden for it.

  69. A win on Friday, by the way, would also make the Knicks less than 10 games under .500 for the first time in a loooooooong time.

  70. They were last nine games out on February 1st. They were actually eight games out on January 30th.

  71. I think Washington could definitely come out flat on Friday. They just clinched a playoff berth tonight which is a pretty big deal for a young team like that. I know how I liked to celebrate milestone achievements in my early 20’s and I definitely payed the price for it. Definitely see potential for another big win on Friday. Sunday against Miami I think will tell us a lot. Win that and I’ll have a lot more belief that we can actually make the playoffs.

    Miami plays Minnesota at home tomorrow and Indiana is at Toronto. If Miami wins and Indiana loses they’d have a 2 game lead in the conference heading into our game on Sunday. Can definitely see them resting Wade in a game like that.

  72. Cousins is really turning into a special player. Him and Anthony Davis are going to be great to watch over the next 10 years.

  73. Actually I dont care at all about the Heat game on Sunday. I expect a loss that day and with the Hawks playing in Indiana that same day it wont be a big deal as long as the Knicks win on Friday (Hawks losing on Friday would be nice too). Thats why to me Friday’s game is beyond huge.

    The only thing that really sucks for me is Miami getting the 1 seed over Indiana. I feel alot more confident taking the Pacers to 6 or 7 games than the Heat. I would expect needing a face-saving win in Game 4 to avoid a sweep just like in 2012 if they face the Heat. I irrationally have faith in giving the Pacers a real series.

  74. Is it really all that irrational given the way the Pacers have been playing?

    By the way, the East is so shitty that the Pacers have been playing poorly for months now and yet have only just now dipped below a .700 winning percentage.

    In any event, yes, Friday’s game really could make or break the season. Let’s hope it makes it!

  75. According to Hollinger the Knicks are now up to 28% probability of making the playoffs.

  76. That sounds about right from a logical perspective. My guess, though, based on pure guesswork, is that they seem more like 50/50 at this point.

  77. Have we figured out why Felton keeps on being our starting PG? At this point even JR looks like he’d be a much better PG for us, why not trying Pablo in the starting lineup?

  78. This team is so confusing. How does a team go out and give up 51 points in 1 quarter to the Lakers, barely show up against the Suns, and then deliver a beatdown like last night to the team that has the best record in the conference this calendar year?

    Thoughts on last night —
    – Melo played completely under control with almost all his shots in the flow of the offense. This is unquestionably his best year ever – basically career bests across the board.
    – JR with maybe his best game as Knick
    – Shump. Wow. He took over the game with his D in the 2nd quarter. Good to see him finish a couple tough shots at the rim too. That behind the back reverse layup over Teletovic was awesome
    – How does Timmy go from “can’t walk, in a wheelchair 48 hours ago” to “should be ROY”. Classic Timmy box score – 17 points on 7-10 shooting, 1 rebound, zero everything else. Whatever. I’ll take it.

    When our wings are playing like this, we will be very difficult to beat — especially Shump. We’ve gotten zero from him offensively this year – if we can even get league average production on that end from him, we can make some noise.

  79. I think it is especially JR, though, Frank. When he is on, then the offense is almost impossible to defend, because you can’t double both Melo and JR, and with both of them having so much range, then when he is hitting his shots it opens the entire court up on offense. It benefits Shump, THJ, Chandler, everybody.

    Well, not Felton, of course. He just sucks on offense (and 90% of the time on defense. That 10% of the time, though, he really impresses on D).

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