2009 Game Preview/Thread: Knicks vs. Lakers

With apologies to Rakim, the greatest MC of his era…

It’s been a long time, I shouldn’t have left you
Without previews to step to
Think of how many games you shlept through
Time’s up, I’m sorry I kept you
Waiting on this, analytical blitz
The previews from the game thread soloist
As you sit by the CPU, hand on the keyboard
Click on the link, this is your reward
Read with the brother that is in the know,
I got the stats, so here they go
It’s a 4 factor world, ya heard? They control
when you got stats, you know you got soul.

Enough of that.   I’m just so happy to be back. 

New York (21-25) hosts Los Angeles (37-9) tonight.  New York dropped a tough one in Los Angeles 116-114 on December 16, 2008. 

Injury report: Andrew Bynum (knee) out 8-12 weeks with a tear to his MCL.  Second long term knee injury to Bynum in as many years.  Tough break for Bynum but good news for New York.  But don’t fret L.A. fans, New York lost Jerome James (knee, ankle, diet take your pick) for the season and New York found ways to adjust.

TEAM POSS EFF eFG TO OREB% FT/FG
New York Knicks-Offense 97.2 106.9 50.1 15.5 24 21
Rank 2 17 13 18 28 27
Los Angeles Lakers-Defense 94.4 105 49.2 16.3 27 20.6
Rank 5 6 10 10 16 5
New York Knicks-Defense 97.2 108.9 51.2 14.9 27.3 20.5
Rank 2 18 26 21 19 4
Los Angeles Lakers-Offense 94.4 114.2 52 14.5 29.7 25
Rank 5 1 5 6 3.5 7

What to watch for:  Attack L.A.’s defense.  L.A. is pretty fair team on defense ranking 6th in defensive efficiency (105), 10th in defensive eFG% (49.2), and 10th in defensive turnovers (16.3).  However, L.A.’s interior defense will be somewhat diminished with Bynum’s 2.3 blocks per 36 minutes unavailable.  Gasol is not a very strong interior defender so the Knicks should look to exploit this with the Lee/Duhon two man game.  Fisher is a strong defender but he will have trouble keeping up with either Robinson or Duhon.  New York needs to stay on the attack.

What to watch for 2: Gasol.  New York would do well to attack Gasol early.  Gasol picks up about 2 fouls per 36 minutes, so he is either a very smart defensive center or a center who sees a player coming and says “Ole”.  Given that Gasol blocks fewer than 1 block per 36 minutes (0.9), I’m going to say the Spaniard plays as they say in Spain, “la defensa del matador.”  New York really does not have a defensive player talented enough to stop Gasol, so getting him into foul trouble is a good approach.

What to watch for 3:  Kobe Bryant.  This is just my opinion, but I say Kobe Bryant is the best all around player in the NBA.  He can score at will and even on the rare night that his shots are not falling , he knows how to share the ball.  L.A. likes to let Kobe dictate on offense (USG-r 29.7) and make good decisions.  I think New York could distrupt that by showing Kobe different looks on defense.  I think you’ll see D’antoni throw Q, Wilson Chandler, and JJ at Kobe in an effort to keep him off balance-good luck.

Inquiring minds want to know: Whether New York’s second unit led by Robinson and Chandler can keep pushing the pace set by the first team.  For L.A., its whether Odom can step in and fill the rebounding and shot blocking void left by Bynum.

2009 Game Thread/Preview Knicks vs. Suns

New York (16-24) hosts Phoenix (23-16).  Phoenix won the last meeting 111-103 in a game that featured a slow start from New York which the team could not overcome.  New York’s 43.8 eFG% that game was well below the team’s season average of 49.4%   Furthermore, Shaquille O’Neal had a bit of a break out game against New York scoring 23 points with 12 boards.  Of course against the New York front line Joakim Noah looks like Bill Walton (To the David Lee fan boys: That is not a slight against David Lee.  David Lee is awesome. Please stop sending me hate mail.)

TEAM POSS EFF eFG TO OREB% FT/FG
New York Knicks-Offense 97 105.8 49.4 15.6 23.9 20.6
Rank 2 20 15 17 28 27
Phoenix Suns-Defense 93.4

109.7

49.4

13.7

28

22.2
Rank 9

26

14.5

29

22

8
New York Knicks-Defense 97 109.2 51.6 15.1 27.8 20
Rank 2 22 26 18 21 3
Phoenix Suns-Offense 93.4

111.2

54.3

17.3 25.5

26.4

Rank 9

4

1

28 20

4

Red indicates weaknesses New York should try to exploit.  Green indicates strengths the New York should protect against.

What to watch for: High percentage shots.  A few weeks ago I promised to dedicate at least one of the “what to watch fors” to defense.  I’ve changed my position after doing some research for New York’s mid season report (coming soon).  I found New York’s defense is actually pretty consistent (nearly always bad) from game to game.  The big gap between wins and losses is found in New York’s eFG%.  Details to come in the mid season report, but long story short:  New York wins when the shoot well from the floor.  New York could have an efficient offensive performance given Phoenix’s poor defensive efficiency (109.7, 26th), poor forced turnover rate (13.7, 29th), and poor offensive rebounding percentage (28%, 22nd).  Phoenix’s front line does not rotate well on defense, so the high pick and roll along with good ball movement should produce great results.  Lee andJJ should also look to secure offensive rebounds for second chance points.  Also, it would not hurt to shoot better than 5-37 (13.5%) on three pointers.

What to watch for 2: Nash vs. Duhon.  Duhon is still struggling with back pain so it will be interesting to see how well he keeps up with the ever mobile Steve Nash.  If Duhon can’t be effective against Nash, it will really expose New York’s lack of depth at the point position. 

What to watch for 3: Phoenix’s most efficient interior scorers Stoudamire (55.6 eFG%) and O’Neal (59.4 eFG%) are somewhat foul prone (3.2 and 4.1 fouls per 36 minutes respectively).  New York should try to get either of these players into foul trouble with drives to the lane.  With Stoudamire and O’Neal on the bench, New York’s interior defense becomes a bit easier.  Furthermore, Shaq still can’t defend the high pick and roll well.  New York should look to exploit this weakness.

2009 Game Thread: Sixers at Knicks

Stats:

TEAM POSS EFF eFG TO OREB% FT/FG
New York Knicks-Offense 97.1 105.9 49.4 15.6 24.2 20.5
Rank 2 20 14 16 27 27
Philadelphia 76ers-Defense 90.9 105 49.4 17 27.6 22.2
Rank 16 6 14 6 19 8
New York Knicks-Defense 97.1 109.4 51.7 15.1 27.4 20.2
Rank 2 22.5 27 18 17 4
Philadelphia 76ers-Offense 90.9 105.5 48.3 17 31 22.9
Rank 16 21 21 26 2 20

Looks like the Knicks are going to have an uphill battle scoring tonight. The Sixers rank 6th on defense. Watch for turnovers (Philly 6th overall, Knicks 16th) and getting to the line (Philly 8th, Knicks 27th) as keys when the Knicks have the ball. When the Sixers are on offense, New York needs to protect the glass (Philly 2nd, Knicks 17th).

2009 Game Preview/Game Thread: Knicks at Mavericks

New York lost a heartbreaker to Dallas at MSG on November 16, 2008 114-124 in overtime.  That game seemed to send the teams in different directions.  Since that game, Dallas has won 18 of 24 games.  Conversely, New York has won only 7 of 23 games. 

 

Team                         Poss    Eff        eFG%    TO     OREB%  FT/FG

New York Offense     98.1    105.6    49.5       15.7    23.6        20.9

Rank                          1         19         13           17       28           26

Dallas Defense            91.3    105.2     47.0      13.9    25.9        22.6

Rank                           16       10          4           28       11           10

New York Defense     98.1    108.9     51.8      15.1     26.9       20.1

Rank                           1         21          28         20        16          5

Dallas Offense             91.3    108.0     49.2      14.3     27.4       20.6

Rank                           16       12          15         3.5       12          28

 

What to watch for:  Defense.  I will talk about this before every game because New York is not a strong enough offensive team to beat their opponents on shooting alone.  Dallas is a slightly above average team on offense.  Dallas is 12th in offensive efficiency and 15th in eFG%.  Of the five Dallas players that average more than 23 minutes per game, four of them have eFG% above 50.  Dallas is a team that has talented offensive players and an offense that suits their skill set.  After a loss to the weakest offense in the NBA on Tuesday, the Knicks need a very strong defensive effort to stay in this game.

 

What to watch for 2: Jason Kidd.  Disrupting the Dallas offense has to start with disrupting Kidd.  Kidd leads the team in assist rating with 45.2, which I thought must be a typo because an ast-r of 40 is defined as best.  Typo or not, it is clear that Kidd sets the offense and makes good passes to teammates when they are in position to score.  One way to disrupt that is to put a long, quick defensive player on Kidd.  In the win against Boston, D’antoni put Jeffries on Rondo and it really seemed to bother him.  Kidd is much more experienced than Rondo is and therefore he will eventually figure out how to beat JJ, but it is still worth a shot.

 

What to watch for 3:  Getting to the line.  New York has struggled much of this season with FT/FG rating.  As Mike K said “Basically this measures the ratio of free throws made to the field goal shots attempted.”  New York is strong at the line sinking 80.1 percent of their attempts.  Unfortunately, the team has been in the bottom third of the NBA in FT/FG rating all season.  The ability to get to the line is a weapon that has been under utilized on this team.  Given the pace New York plays, they could create some real problems for teams that lack depth if they players made a better effort to draw fouls.  Players like Harrington need to draw contact when they get in the lane rather than use spin moves to get away from the contact.  The team needs to concentrate on getting points rather than just getting off shots.

 

What to watch for 4:  A small serving of Curry?  I would not count on seeing Curry tonight (but I am wrong 48% of the time).  I don’t think D’antoni will let Curry play until he has earned playing time with strong practices.  If you recall, D’antoni was very hard on Curry for missing training camp and coming into camp out of shape.  I don’t think we will see much, if any, of Curry tonight.  Of course when Curry comes into the game tonight mid way into the second quarter, I can expect my good friend jon abbey to remind me of just how wrong I was.

2009 Game Thread: Knicks at Thunder

From yesterday’s Alan Hahn blog:

A 6-foot-11 300-pound behemoth at the top of the key handling the ball, going behind his back (or attempting to) and dribbling down the lane en route to the basket much to the delight of his teammates. The culprit?

Eddy Curry. Yes, you read that correctly. Not only was Curry practicing for the second time in three days, he was working on his handles during a certain sequence as the Knicks were practicing the pick-and-roll. He wasn’t doing it for show — and it wasn’t a great one anyway because the cat still has a lot of rust to knock off his game.

D’Antoni didn’t rule out giving Curry some garbage time minutes against the Oklahoma City Thunder tomorrow night if the situation arises.

Am I crazy to be excited that Eddy Curry might play some garbage time?


Stats for tonight’s contest:

Oklahoma City Thunder

TEAM POSS EFF eFG TO OREB% FT/FG
New York Knicks-Offense 98.2 105.7 49.6 15.7 23.6 20.9
Rank
1
19
12
18
28
28
Oklahoma City Thunder-Defense 93.7 109.7 51.5 15 26.8 23.1
Rank
7
25
26
22
14
13
New York Knicks-Defense 98.2 108.9 51.6 15 26.9 19.8
Rank
1
20
27
23
17
4
Oklahoma City Thunder-Offense 93.7 100.7 46.7 17 27.1 22.2
Rank
7
29
28
26
14
23

New York heads into the heart of the Sooner State to play the NBA’s worst team. Oklahoma has won 4 games on the year. In their last meeting the Knicks amassed a 17 point first quarter lead, but were complacent and almost let the Thunder catch up in the fourth quarter. The Knicks starting lineup that night was Duhon, Crawford, Richardson, Chandler, and Randolph. And P.J. Carlesimo was Oklahoma’s coach. Oh how things have changed.

Fortunately for New York, the Thunder are the league’s second worst offense (29th). The Knicks need to worry about Kevin Durant, who at 20 years old has a healthy PER of 19.3. However he’s not surrounded by a lot of talent. Mason & Watson are sporting PERs of 8.5 and 6.6 respectively, and the two are averaging over 53 minutes a night. Oklahoma doesn’t seem to shoot from downtown often. Green leads the team with 1.3 3pa/36min, which would be 6th on New York (7th if you count Roberson).

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.