Knicks 96 Chicago 82

The Knicks clinched a playoff spot yesterday with a win against the hapless Bulls (and a Cleveland loss to Memphis). It’s great to be in the playoffs again, after a two year absence. Unlike the last few Knick playoff teams I don’t have expectations for the Knicks to get past the first round. Why? Well look at the last 20 or so games the Knicks have played. I’ll split their opponents into two groups, the games they won & the games they lost.

Won:	OppWin%
Chi .282
Phi .423
Por .519
Tor .397
Atl .321
NJ .584
Wash .308
Mil .519
Was .308
Tor .397
Phi .423
AVG1 .407
AVG2 .390

Out of those 11 wins, only 3 were against winning teams. One of those wins (New Jersey) was without their opposition’s two best players (Kidd & Martin). Of the 2 other teams, neither would be considered great, as they are only slightly above average (.519). The first average (AVG1) is the average winning percentage of all the teams they’ve beaten. AVG2 is the average of those teams, minus the victory against the hobbled Nets.

Now for the games the Knicks lost:

Lost:	Win%
Ind .734
NJ .584
Det .654
Chi .282
Phi .423
Bos .449
Den .519
Lac .346
Pho .338
Sac .701
Cle .410
Uta .526
AVG1 .497
AVG2 .556

Of their 12 losses, 6 were from winning teams. The average of all these teams is just below .500, but take away the losses from the embarrassing teams (Bulls, Clippers, and Suns), and the average raises to .556. In their last 23 games, while fighting for a playoff spot, they have played 9 teams with a winning record. They’ve only won 3 of those. None of those were against a team with a record better than .520, except the Nets game. They are 8-6 against sub-.500 teams. It’s obvious looking at these numbers that the Knicks have been feasting on the weaker teams, and not putting up a good enough fight against the top dogs. In the playoffs they won’t have the Wizards, Hawks or Bulls to push around.

You may think I’m a pessimist spending a whole column on the Knicks’ slim hopes to make it to the second round. However, without expecting them to win, I can enjoy watching the games. I’m already prepared for the worst, but if they happen to pull off the upset I’ll be that much more elated.

Good News and Bad News

KnickerBlogger fans. I have good news and bad news.

First the bad news. There will be no entries for KnickerBlogger until Monday March 21st, due to KnickerBlogger and Mrs. KnickerBlogger going away on vacation. There is a small chance I will post something while away, but it’s doubtful. Even though I won’t be going to one, I might as well be on a deserted island as far as internet service goes.

Now the good news. Come Monday I will have an interview with Dean Oliver. Yes the Dean Oliver. So if you haven’t already, you should run out and buy his book Basketball on Paper (or order online while sitting in front of your computer). If you won’t take my word on it, you can read the review by Kevin Pelton, who called it “revolutionary.”

Dean’s writing is colorful, entertaining, and intelligent. He is a master in two areas that seperates him from the rest of the basketball writers out there. First Dean understands what goes on during a game. Second is his ability to think clearly in relation to statistical methods. It’s his ability to combine these two talents that puts Dean in the same class as Bill James. Some of the title chapters alone should pique curiosity:

  • The Significance Of Derek Coleman’s Insignificance
  • Reserve Your Playoff Tickets Now! We Won Three In A Row!
  • The Effect Of Bad Referees and Other Short Stories
  • Should I Firebomb Billy Donovan’s House?

The books is filled with fascinating things like: the best (and worst) offensive and defensive teams of all time, how good were some of the league’s best players (Bird, Magic, Jordan, Ewing, Shaq, Iverson, Stockton, Malone, and more!), and the interesting plight of the 2002 Raptors (they did loose 13 games in a row, then won 9 to get a playoff berth). Knick fans will be satisfied getting this book & learning exactly how good defensively those Ewing/Oakley/Riley teams were.

Here’s some suggested readings for the week:
Monday: The Corner Triangle – This is a Bucks blog, and since the Knicks play the Bucks on Sunday, there should be something about the Knicks on there.
Tuesday: Page 23 – If Dean Oliver is the Bill James of basketball, then Pelton might be Rob Neyer. His articles are sharp, and he’s been posting an article every few days recently, so something new should be up. If not, check out his archives, on of my recent favorites is Do Point Guards Develop Differently?
Wednesday: Knicks Clicks – The Knicks play the Wiz on Tuesday, so as always Mr. Avallone should have some great stuff.
Thursday: GroupHug – Like Penthouse letters, where you’ll wonder how many are true. Go make a confession!
Friday: Aaron’s Baseball Blog – The best sports blog out there. On Friday’s he’ll have a wrap up of the week’s blogs, and you’ll have plenty of great material to read.
Saturday: RaptorBlog.com and Bulls Blog – These two teams play each other on Friday, so you can read both for a full report on the game.

Two Feet Off The Ground

And when my friend and I were
done we went to rest upon the
sun ’cause life takes from us
the things, we love and robs us
of the special ones and puts
them where where we can’t climb
and we only miss them all the time

— “Life Is Shit”
Dead Milkmen

The Knicks head into Philly Friday night to face the Sixers. Although the Sixers are only a game and a half away from a playoff spot, they’re more likely to vie for a lottery spot than a playoff spot. Their second leading scorer, Glenn Robinson will need surgery on his elbow, and will likely miss the rest of the season. The Sixers could potentially face the Knicks without their two leading scorers, as leading scorer Allen Iverson has missed his team’s last two games with a sore right knee. There is no word on whether or not Iverson has practiced this week either.

Despite not having Iverson or Robinson, Philly has won its’ last three games. Two were against the league patsy Chicago, but the other was against a pretty good team in Milwaukee. Looking at the box score, it’s easy to see why the Bucks fell to the Sixers on Monday. First is that little used Zendon Hamilton and Greg Buckner dropped 39 points on them, 32 more than their season average. Second is the huge 14-4 advantage Philly had on the offensive boards. Finally Keith Van Horn played only 20 minutes for Milwaukee, before fouling out.

I wanted to see why the Sixers beat the Bulls twice. Looking at the stat sheet, the Sixers just shot at a better percentage each game. Most of the stats were the same. Yes they did have more defensive rebounds, but that’s because they had more attempts due to Chicago’s extra misses. (In other words each Bull miss=Philly defensive rebound). In one game Philly had almost twice as many turnovers, but Chicago shot itself out of the game with less than a 38% field goal percentage (40% AFG% for those that are curious).

Iverson has missed 20 games so far this year, and the Sixers are 8-12 without the Answer. No one person has taken up all of the scoring slack for Philadelphia during their latest injury-filled win streak. Kenny Thomas has done well, but they’ve also seen good performances from Hamilton, Buckner, Salmons, Snow, McKie, and even Kyle Korver. So even if Iverson doesn’t show up, the Knicks will have to be careful, since Philadelphia seems to be able to get points from a number of different people. The last time these two teams met, Tim Thomas and Nazr Mohammed combined for 27 rebounds. A repeat performance would be welcomed by one blogger, since I picked up Nazr for my fantasy squad.

Side Note: With the Knicks in Philadelphia, my thoughts go out to the friends and family of Dave Blood. Dave was the bassist for the iconoclastic Pennsylvania band the Dead Milkmen. Some of the happiest times of my life were spent playing his bass lines. Rest in peace, Dave.