Knicks’ Week in Advance 11/24/2008

Hello all. Thomas B. here with the second installment of Knicks’ Week in Advance. This article appears exclusively on Knickerblogger.net (everyone else-including Stern Must Go-turned me down). I will compare the Knicks’ Four Factors to those of their opponents this week.

I’m glad the Knicks beat the Wizards Saturday. The win spared me from drafting an open that parodies those Time Life Books commercials from the 1980s:

November 2008. The administrator of a popular blog contacts a man of limited basketball knowledge and invites him to join the staff. Shortly thereafter, the Knicks begin a losing streak that has yet to end. Coincidence? Read the book.

Thankfully, the Knicks won so that open won’t be needed. Besides, about 2% of the population would have got the reference anyway. Such is my sense of humor.

This week the Knicks have home games against Cleveland and Golden State with a road trip to Detroit in between.

Tuesday, November 25 – Cleveland

TEAM POSS EFF eFG TO OREB% FT/FG
New York Knicks-Offense 98.4 106 50.1 14.5 21.8 19.3
Rank
1
14
11
6
29
28
Cleveland Cavaliers-Defense 88.8 104.8 46.8 16.6 28.1 26.4
Rank
26
12
8
11
20
24
New York Knicks-Defense 98.4 107.4 50.9 15.2 28.6 19.1
Rank
1
21
27
21
24
3
Cleveland Cavaliers-Offense 88.8 114 51.8 15 29.4 28.4
Rank
26
1
2
11
7
3

[First meeting of the teams this year.]

This will be the third straight Tuesday on which the Knicks meet one of last year’s playoff teams (Spurs and Boston previously). The Cavs went 9-1 over the last 10 games and look to be clicking. Conversely, the Knicks are going to work three new players into the rotation.

What to watch for: LBJ. Since the Knicks have the cap room to dream about Lebron, I think LBJ might start showing the garden crowd exactly what they could get on about July 24th 2010. That is if the price is right.

What to watch for 2: Of all the players brought in, I think Cutino Mobley can have the best immediate impact due to his defense. He and Duhon give the Knicks their strongest defensive backcourt since perhaps Derek Harper and John Starks. That’s a good thing, since the Cavs are 2nd in shooting (eFG%: 51.8%), and 1st on offense (OE: 114 pts/100poss). Much of this is due to strong backcourt play. Mo Williams and Delonte West are both shooting above 40% from behind the arc, with West’s 66.2 eFG% leading the team. The Knicks need to eliminate open shots by pressuring the ball and cutting off passing lanes. If Duhon and Mobley can pressure the backcourt, they could push Williams’ and West’s so-so assist ratios down, while bringing their slightly below average turnover ratios up.

Wednesday, November 26 – Detroit

TEAM POSS EFF eFG TO OREB% FT/FG
New York Knicks-Offense 98.4 106 50.1 14.5 21.8 19.3
Rank
1
14
11
6
29
28
Detroit Pistons-Defense 89.7 106.8 49.3 15.2 25.5 26.6
Rank
24
19
20
20
10
25
New York Knicks-Defense 98.4 107.4 50.9 15.2 28.6 19.1
Rank
1
21
27
21
24
3
Detroit Pistons-Offense 89.7 108.2 48.4 15 28.4 26.3
Rank
24
10
17
12
10
8

[First meeting of the teams this year.]

While still a very talented team, these are not the same defensive minded Pistons of recent years. The Pistons are in the bottom third of the league on defensive (DE: 106.8, 19th), eFG% (49.3%, 20th), and turnovers (15.2 TO/100poss, 20th). Unfortunately, the Knicks’ are ranked lower than the Pistons’ in each of those defensive categories. The Knicks have an edge on offense in terms of shooting (eFG%: 50.1%, 11th), so they should look to exploit that.

What to watch for: The Knicks’ backcourt defense. Iverson, Hamilton, and Stuckey are the Pistons’ highest usage players and the least efficient shooters. The Pistons also lack a true point after trading for Iverson, so the Knicks have to keep the pressure on him to disrupt the offense. This is true when dealing with Iverson in general.

Once Iverson has decided he is going to shoot, nothing short of a stoppage of play will change his mind. The trick is to invite him to take a bad shot. I say invite because you don’t have to force him into it. Much like Crawford, he does it willingly. Once Iverson is pressing on offense, he forgets to pass and the rest of team is taken out of the game. Easier said than done, but there you go.

What to watch for 2: Rasheed Wallace vs. the three headed forward. Now that Harrington and Thomas will join Chandler at the power forward spot, D’Antoni can throw three versions of pretty much the same player at Wallace. Once Gallanari gets healthy, we will have four 6’9-ish forwards who like to work outside of the paint. Not since Robert Palmer have I seen such symmetry.

The good news is that between Thomas, Harrington, and Chandler, we may have enough bodies to wear Wallace out, foul him out, or just plain psych him out. Wallace is the best interior defender on Detroit, so the Knicks would do well to get him into foul trouble. Generally, you do that by posting or driving, and that’s not what “simply irresistible” does very well.

Saturday, November 29 – Golden State

TEAM POSS EFF eFG TO OREB% FT/FG
New York Knicks-Offense 98.4 106 50.1 14.5 21.8 19.3
Rank
1
14
11
6
29
28
Golden State Warriors-Defense 96.6 107.9 49.5 16.3 30.4 23.4
Rank
2
25
22
12
29
12
New York Knicks-Defense 98.4 107.4 50.9 15.2 28.6 19.1
Rank
1
21
27
21
24
3
Golden State Warriors-Offense 96.6 107.2 47.1 15.2 31 26.5
Rank
2
11.5
19
15
4
6

[First meeting of the teams this year.]

Take a good look in the mirror Knickerbockers, the image staring back at you is that of the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors are slighty more efficient on offense while the Knicks are slightly better shooters. Golden State shares the Knicks’ defensive woes with both teams in the bottom third of the league in the defensive stats.

What to watch for: The return of Jamal Crawford means more offense for Golden State, but far less defense. I’d love to see the Knicks exploit this by having Q play some minutes at the two and work Crawford in the post. The Knicks could play that lineup if Lee, Harrington, and Chandler play the front court.

What to watch for 2: Rebounding. Neither team is especially strong on the glass, as they each play small. Given the pace and that each team favors jump shot offenses, the team that controls the glass should come out the winner. Look for David Lee to get his first 20 rebound game of the season.

What to watch for 3: What is up with the “Golden State?” Every other team in the league is named after either the city or the state, but the Warriors use the nickname of the state? So even if you know the state nicknames, you still don’t know the city. No wonder they can’t sell out the arena, no one can find the stadium. Yet, somehow the name works. I mean, the Bee Hive State Jazz sure doesn’t work.

Any win this week means the Knicks finish November without a losing record. Wouldn’t that be nice? See you next week.

2008 Playoffs: Game Ones

OK so the Spurs and Suns go double OT, the Jazz beat the hottest team in the West, and the Sixers steal game 1 from Detroit. I really only caught the Houston/Utah game on tv, and it seemed that the Rockets dug themselves a big hole and spent their energy trying to catch up. My feeling of the game was that Utah dominated the glass, but the boxscore shows Houston to have won the aggregate offensive rebound war: 18 to 13. However the Jazz shot better than 50%, while Houston didn’t crack 40%, so when you look at rebounding percentage it was actually pretty even (HOU: 39%, UTA: 36%). This is a series where the #2 offense meets the #2 defense, and in each game you expect something to break.

Looking at the boxscore for Pistons loss, it seems that Philadelphia shot slightly better, but all the four factors were pretty close. Detroit had one extra rebound, one less turnover, and one less free throw made. For those that are hoping Philly/Detroit will be this year’s Golden State/Dallas it would have been better if the Sixers won more handily. In a 7 game series, the underdog needs to do better than just break even.

As for the Spurs/Suns well this should be a good series throughout. Half of me wants the Suns to lose because I think the Shaq trade was a poor decision. Half of me wants the Spurs to lose so I get a more exciting round 2 series between Phoenix & New Orleans.

Tonight’s 4 Factors (vs DAL, 12/10/07)

After each game this season, we’ll be taking a look at what the four factors have to say about the game– how the winner won and the loser lost. For an intro to the four factors, see A Layman’s Guide to Advanced NBA Statistics.

Knicks lose to Mavericks, 99 – 89

	Pace	Eff	eFG	FT/FG	OREB%	TOr
DAL	84.0	117.9	59.7%	28.4	21.9	10.7
NYK		106.0	43.9%	20.7	34.1	14.3

All things considered, the defense wasn’t too bad tonight. Not great or even good, but not awful either. The Knicks surrendered a high number to Dallas– 117.9 points per 100 possessions. But Dallas was the NBA’s 2nd best offense coming into the night, and tonight they only scored 3.2 points per 100 possessions above their season average. For a Knicks team that was dead last in defensive efficiency coming into the game, this is actually a pretty good showing relative to the norm.

By this point it might be trite to say, but it’s true– what let the Knicks down in this game was their inability to mount a consistent offensive attack. Dallas is one of the poorer defenses in the NBA thus far (allowing 110.3 points per 100 possessions, 23rd in the league). And yet the Knicks failed to capitalize, scoring only 36 points in the first half. It was only in the 2nd half when they put up 53 points– and not coincidentally, when Zach Randolph awoke from his mini-slump– that the Knicks made the game remotely competitive. What doomed the offense was simply inefficient shooting from the field– Curry (3-13), Richardson (3-9), and Crawford (6-22) being the main culprits.

The Knicks don’t have great perimeter shooting and the D is consistently bad, so at a minimum they must establish one of Curry or Randolph as a scoring threat in order to have a decent chance to win. Tonight they didn’t do that til the 2nd half, but by then it was too late.


4 factor stats were acquired using the ESPN4Factors script by Cherokee of the ABPRmetrics board. Firefox users can use this script (after installing the Greasemonkey extension) to see 4 factor stats automatically displayed in all NBA boxscores on espn.com.

Tonight’s 4 Factors (vs PHI, 12/8/07)

After each game this season, we’ll be taking a look at what the four factors have to say about the game– how the winner won and the loser lost. For an intro to the four factors, see A Layman’s Guide to Advanced NBA Statistics.

Knicks lose to Sixers, 105 – 77

	Pace	Eff	eFG	FT/FG	OREB%	TOr
PHI	91.0	115.4	57.4%	14.8	42.4	17.6
NYK		84.6	39.3%	31.4	19.5	19.8

Unfortunately I find myself agreeing with Mike Breen’s assessment. It’s worse to get blown out by 28 points at home by one of the league’s worst, than to get blown out by 45 on the road by one of the league’s best. This one is more embarrassing and hurts more, if that’s even possible.

Philly, one of the league’s worst offenses, scored at will on the Knicks. Especially in the 3rd and 4th quarters, unleashing a prolonged flurry of dunks and 3 pointers. Even so, they scored only marginally more efficiently than they did last night (112.2 points per 100 possessions) when the Knicks only lost by 10. Appearances to the contrary, the Knicks were so much worse off in this game than they were last night because of another atrocious offensive output. Last night they managed to score at a clip of 100 points per 100 possessions. That’s already a bad number, but tonight it dipped in a big way to an unconscionable 84.6.

The Sixers once again completely shut down Randolph and Curry (8 points combined). The starting guards had another off night (12 points combined). And Quentin Richardson continued his season long drought (5 points). Collectively, the starters combined to score at an average clip of 8.3 points per 40 each. If not for Nate Robinson’s 25 points, the offensive output tonight would have rivaled what New York put up in Boston. For a team built around the offensive talent of its starters, these recurring no-shows on offense are particularly devastating. Things cannot go on like this– something is going to need to change, one way or another.


4 factor stats were acquired using the ESPN4Factors script by Cherokee of the ABPRmetrics board. Firefox users can use this script (after installing the Greasemonkey extension) to see 4 factor stats automatically displayed in all NBA boxscores on espn.com.

Tonight’s 4 Factors (@ PHI, 12/7/07)

After each game this season, we’ll be taking a look at what the four factors have to say about the game– how the winner won and the loser lost. For an intro to the four factors, see A Layman’s Guide to Advanced NBA Statistics.

Knicks lose to Sixers, 101 – 90

	Pace	Eff	eFG	FT/FG	OREB%	TOr
NYK	90.0	100.0	47.7%	9.3	31.3	13.3
PHI		112.2	51.2%	15.1	31.6	13.3

Subpar effort on both ends of the court tonight. A good offensive rebounding and ball handling effort was sabotaged by bad eFG% and a horrendous showing at the line (only 8 makes on only 17 attempts). Zach Randolph is the goat, continuously forcing poor shots and finishing 2-11 from the field with no FTs. Curry did some modest damage but was limited by foul trouble (12 points, 5 fouls in 26 minutes). And so the Knicks had no interior presence offensively in this game. The Sixers are an above average defensive team thus far (allowing 106 points per 100 possessions, tied for 12th) so the bad offensive showing against a lottery bound team isn’t quite as bad as it might seem. But don’t let that fool you– it was still awful.

On the other end of the court, the Sixers have been as poor offensively as the Knicks thus far (averaging 101.9 pp100, 23rd). The Knicks allowed them to score over 10 pp100 over their season average though. That number that is almost identical to NY’s average points allowed per 100 possessions (112.3), despite the fact that the Sixers are a below average offensive squad. Tally it up and you have a quite bad defensive performance, even by the low standards set by the Knicks’ average defensive efficiency.


4 factor stats were acquired using the ESPN4Factors script by Cherokee of the ABPRmetrics board. Firefox users can use this script (after installing the Greasemonkey extension) to see 4 factor stats automatically displayed in all NBA boxscores on espn.com.

Tonight’s 4 Factors (@ NJN, 12/5/07)

After each game this season, we’ll be taking a look at what the four factors have to say about the game– how the winner won and the loser lost. For an intro to the four factors, see A Layman’s Guide to Advanced NBA Statistics.

Knicks defeat Nets, 100 – 93

	Pace	Eff	eFG	FT/FG	OREB%	TOr
NYK	87.0	114.9	53.0%	45.5	10.3	11.5
NJN		106.9	45.7%	41.4	31.4	14.9

Another Knick win powered mainly by the offense, but in a bit of an unusual way this time. The offensive rebounding, usually powerful, was almost non-existent. The shooting from the field was very good but not out of this world. Credit the very strong offensive performance primarily to a fantastic showing at the FT line (30 FTM on only 66 FGA) and great ballhandling (season low 11.5 TOr, including only two TOs in the second half). Do not expect to see many games like this this season.

The D seems adequate enough, and indeed the Knicks had a better defensive performance than their season average (112.5 pp100). But considering the circumstances it was a weak effort. The Nets have awful offensively this season, scoring only 100.3 points per 100 possessions, and tonight they just happened to be missing the straw that stirs the drink, Jason Kidd. The bulk of the blame goes to too much fouling, allowing the Nets as monstrous an impact at the FT line as the Knicks themselves had. But the Knicks also did a poor job protecting the offensive glass and forcing TOs from the league’s most turnover prone team, even though (again) they were without their primary ballhandler. Tally it all up and it’s another pretty poor defensive effort by the Knicks, first appearances to the contrary.


4 factor stats were acquired using the ESPN4Factors script by Cherokee of the ABPRmetrics board. Firefox users can use this script (after installing the Greasemonkey extension) to see 4 factor stats automatically displayed in all NBA boxscores on espn.com.

Tonight’s 4 Factors (vs PHO, 12/2/07)

After each game this season, we’ll be taking a look at what the four factors have to say about the game– how the winner won and the loser lost. For an intro to the four factors, see A Layman’s Guide to Advanced NBA Statistics.

Knicks lose to Suns, 104 – 115

	Pace	Eff	eFG	FT/FG	OREB%	TOr
PHO	93.0	123.7	62.5%	11.9	20.0	11.8
NYK		111.8	50.0%	20.9	32.6	11.8

Going into the 4th quarter, the Knicks were matching Phoenix basket for basket. The score was 85 – 84 Phoenix, with both clubs featuring an offensive efficiency north of 120 points per 100 possessions. However, the wheels fell off in the 4th, as New York lost its offensive flow. The Suns ended the game with an offensive efficiency close to what they had been producing through 3 quarters, whereas New York’s offensive efficiency dipped by more than 10 points per 100 possessions between the 3rd and 4th. Once again, the fickle offense determines the difference between wins and losses.

Overall it’s hard to be too disappointed in this game’s outcome. Phoenix outperformed their typical offensive performance this season (111.4 pp100), but against the Knicks that is to be expected. Meanwhile, in spite of the poor 4th quarter the Knicks posted a strong offensive performance, even though the Suns have been a solid defensive team so far this season (allowing 104.1 pp100, 8th in the league). It just wasn’t strong enough for long enough to overcome an elite team.


4 factor stats were acquired using the ESPN4Factors script by Cherokee of the ABPRmetrics board. Firefox users can use this script (after installing the Greasemonkey extension) to see 4 factor stats automatically displayed in all NBA boxscores on espn.com.