Key Matchup Tonight 11/26: Chandler vs. Lopez

Well it’s time to redeem myself in this post. The last time I wrote about the matchup between Raymond Felton and Jeremy Lin and how Felton was going to outplay the former Knick point guard. Turns out I was wrong, completely wrong, as the Knicks didn’t even bother showing up in a 131-103 route to the Rockets. So here is another attempt at writing about a matchup, this one about the big men down low (pause..) for both the Knicks and Nets, Tyson Chandler and Brook Lopez.

One of the major storylines for the Nets this season has been the play of Lopez. He leads them in scoring with 19 points per game and shooting 55% from the field, and has shown a more aggressive side to his game that has been lacking in his young career. Brook can be a dynamic center because of his ability to step out and hit the long jumper, making Chandler’s defense tonight that much more important.

Chandler won the DPOY award last year in deserving fashion, but so far this season hasn’t been the defensive force Knick fans have become accustomed to seeing. He has been nagged by illness and some injuries early on, and the Knicks need him to get back to being the anchor of that defense going forward. Early on, defense was the Knicks catalyst, but lately it has been their Achilles heel. They gave up 65 second-half points to the Mavericks last Wednesday, 131 points to the Rockets on Friday, and then despite winning yesterday, allowed the lowly Pistons to drop 100 at the Garden. The Knicks need to get back to playing the defense that allowed them to jump out to an undefeated start, especially against a Nets team that can really score.

One of the keys to tonight’s game will be the pick and roll defense of the Knicks. As Taylor pointed out in the game preview, the Knicks have allowed 1.08 points per possession to roll men, and the Nets run both Humphries and Lopez off pick and rolls. In order for the Knicks to be successful tonight, Chandler, Sheed and Camby will all have to do a good job of chasing Williams out of the paint and getting back to defend the big men. Easier said than done obviously as the Nets have some formidable scorers down low, but that is why Chandler needs to play a key role tonight.

It should be a great game tonight, and despite whatever hatred you may have for the other team, it’s good to have two relevant basketball teams in New York…But who am I kidding, I dislike the Nets very much, and hope the Knicks beat them down tonight.

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