First Round Thoughts

Just opening this up for people to talk about the first round. I haven’t seen a lot of games, but I did catch a few good ones. I saw the Celtics lose in overtime, the Lakers crush the Jazz, and a bit of the Nuggets/Hornets. Of the few games I saw, it was interesting how many ex-Knicks (and potential ex-Knicks) were involved on winning teams: Trevor Ariza, Joakim Noah, Tyrus Thomas, Nene. It’s hard not to be a little bitter about it, at least for another year…

As for the upsets, the East looks like a one man race at this point. The Celtics clearly aren’t the same without Garnett. Orlando lost to the Sixers? OK so that’s more likely to be a fluke than not, but it does raise questions at this point about the Magic. And if you thought the Heat were a Wade explosion from potentially beating the Cavs…

Who Will Win the Western Conference?

According to at least one gambling site, the Lakers are by far the favorite to win the West. But how far ahead of the rest of the field are they? Los Angeles was 11 games better than any other Western team. But the Lakers are only 55 win percentage points better than the Trailblazers, .739 to .684, when using expected win percentage based on run differential. That’s a bit closer than the 134 point difference when looking at actual win percentage. Additionally the Lakers are most likely going to face the Jazz, Blazers, and Spurs/Nuggets. Certainly that’s tougher than the Pistons, Hawks/Heat, and Magic/Celtics that will meet Cleveland in the East.

So what do you think, can any Western team derail the Lakers?

{democracy:27}

Marbury to Greece?

ESPN’s Chris Sheridan reports that the Greek club Olympiakos has reached out to the Knicks to discuss a possible buyout for Stephon Marbury. No way to guess how serious the talks might be, but Olympiakos is a serious player — this is the club that signed Josh Childress to a $10 million deal last summer. According to Sheridan, Marbury is aware of the interest but has not spoken to anyone from the Greek team.

If Sheridan’s article is accurate, one can guess that the two clubs and the player are discussing a deal that would guarantee Marbury a certain salary, to make up anything he gives up in a buyout.  Olympiakos might be extra-motivated because Childress, the team star, underwent surgery this week for an abdominal tear.  He’s expected to be out somewhere between 3 and 8 weeks.

On the other hand, Donnie Walsh seems dead-set on exploring trade possibilities for Marbury, right up to the Feb. 19 deadline.  It seems unlikely that a buyout would happen before then, but I suppose Olympiakos could try and push him, by offering Marbury a big chunk of money – saving the money for Walsh and Jimmy Dolan. 

Marbury has publicly offered to give up $1 million in salary, in a buyout.  He’s also expressed interest in joining the Celtics, so he probably would consider Olympiakos a backup plan, at best.  However, the Knicks have some leverage, because if they refuse to cut Marbury loose by March 1, he won’t be allowed on any other team’s playoff roster.

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.