Knicks-Nuggets: What to Watch For

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Howdy y’all! So the Knicks play Melo’s old team, the Denver Nuggets, at Madison Square Garden tonight. Tonight’s rumble will be the Knicks 4th game in 5 nights and they’re sure to have some heavy legs. However Carmelo Anthony’s return would spark the team, in my humble opinion. It is still unknown whether Anthony will play, but I believe he probably will. In fact, I’d be surprised if he didn’t play.

Studying for my finals are brutally abusing me, so I’ve got to keep the pre-game a bit short today. Here’s what you need to know for today’s game: 

  • According basketball reference, the Knicks come into the game with the second best offense in basketball with an offensive rating of 112.77. Denver enters the game with 10th best offense in the league at 107.65.
  • Defensively, the Knicks have the league’s 10th best defense at a defensive rating of 104.13. Denver has the league’s 25th best defense at 107.73. **If you read the site often, you can see that these numbers are higher than what is usually on here. I usually use Hoopdata for O/D rtg stats, but it hasn’t been updated the past few days. These numbers are generally higher, due to how they calculate possessions, but the order of the teams is pretty much the same*
  • As we all know, the Knicks play at a mighty slow pace. Denver plays at a faster one. As is a key for each game, the Knicks have to keep Denver from controlling the pace of the game. If this is an up and down shootout, odds are the Knicks will perform very poorly on defense. New York needs to keep Denver into a slow, half court matchup.
  • Quick point guards have destroyed the Knicks in pick and roll situations this year. Denver’s Ty Lawson is one of the quickest point guards in our league. In order to run an efficient defense tonight, the Knicks need to find a way to stay in front of Lawson and not let him get to the rim. Rather than get eaten alive in the pick and roll, the Knicks need to get in front of Lawson and force him into isolations where he is shooting only 23% on the season.
  • JaVale McGee and Kenneth Faried are absolute beasts on the boards. Tyson Chandler can’t get in foul trouble and whether Kurt (WELP) Sheed or Melo is playing that 4 spot, they’ve got to work on the glass. Denver is a great shooting team, which should make for a lot of offensive rebound opportunities. New York has to finish defensive possessions tonight or they will lose.
  • Denver isn’t very good at defending roll men in pick and roll situations, allowing roll men to shoot 57% on the season, so Tyson Chandler should be able to throw some dunks down tonight. Hopefully Denver’s lack of prowess in this area will help take some of the scoring load of Raymond Felton’s shoulders.

This is a game where the Knicks need Carmelo Anthony. They’re going to be tired and may not shoot all that well tonight. Denver isn’t a very good defense, but if you look at their roster it is puzzling. They’ve got tons of athleticism and in theory should be one of the top defenses in the league. Without Melo, I don’t know if the Knicks can win. With him, I like their chances.

Follow Taylor on Twitter @tarmosino

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