Salutations friends! Your EASTERN CONFERENCE LEADING New York Knickerbockers face off against the evil empire of LeBane James and the Miami Heat tonight. Coming off a hilarious last second victory yesterday against the Charlotte Bobcats, the Knicks are a bit banged up. Jason Kidd just returned from back spasms in yesterdays game. Raymond Felton has a bruised left hand. Carmelo Anthony lacerated his left finger diving into the stands for a loose ball yesterday and is questionable to play. I think the Knicks stand a good chance to win tonight, even if Anthony misses the game.
The Knicks and Heat are the two best offensive teams in basketball, ranking 1st and 2nd in offensive efficiency in the league respectively. New York is the 11th best defensive team in the league, while Miami comes in ranked 19th. Both squads rank towards the bottom of the league in pace.
After a two off days, the 12-4 Knicks return to action as they head down south to North Carolina to play the 7-9 Charlotte Bobcats tonight. The Knicks are coming in a little banged up at the point guard position, with bulldog/duck/point guard Raymond Felton expected to start after acquiring a bruise on his left hand in the Knicks win over the Suns on Sunday (puns!) and Jason Kidd expected to come off the bench after dealing with back spasms that kept him out of the past three games. A couple of things to watch for:
The Bobcats play at the sixth highest pace in the league. The Knicks play at the third lowest. As with almost every game, the point guard are going to have to slow down the tempo and keep it under control. Moreover, the Knicks are going to have to deal with the athleticism that the Cats’ have. Kemba Walker is lightning quick, and stopping his dribble-penetrations will be key. Second overall pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is a dynamic wing who has defended very well this year and can also fly. In the frontcourt, Bismack Biyombo stands out athletically. He averages 1.6 blocks per game, can get them in bunches.
As mentioned earlier, Jason Kidd will be coming off the bench. It will be interesting to see if he can help get the defense back on track by doing his veteran, Jason Kidd-things. His return should also let Woodson play around with his backcourt combinations, and have potentially have more of those 2-point guard lineups that have been working very well for the Knicks this year. And finally, and maybe most importantly, Kidd said that he will not be wearing the headband. Thank goodness. It’s as if Basketball-Hanukkah has come early this year.
SHEEEEEEEEEED. Rasheed Wallace played only 85 seconds on Sunday after getting ejected with two technical fouls. Sheed should be well rested and readytopickupmoretech’sreadytoplaysmotheringdefense ready to launch more regretful three pointers. Without Marcus Camby (plantar fasciitis) Sheed will likely be the first big man off the bench and have to play some important minutes.
Felton will be wearing a pad on his left hand, and I expect him to be fine. After all, he did launch up a falling away three-pointer on the possession immediately after hurting his hand. Bulldog gonna’ bulldog.
Bobcats center Byron Mullens is 7″0, 275 lbs and he averages 5.3 three point attempts a game. He averages 1.5 makes per game. This is hilarious.
Finally, Ben Gordon has been on fire lately. He’s made 18 threes in his last three games. I think that’s a lot. Yeah, it’s a lot. The Knicks are going to hope he cools off and make sure they stay with him out on the perimeter.
And them’s be the things to watch for. The Knicks should win this game, and make sure they don’t look past it with their showdown against the Heat happening tomorrow. Tip off is a little after 7 PM ET.
Before the season started, I wrote on here that I believed Ronnie Brewer would be the Knicks best off-season acquisition. I was wrong. That distinction goes to Jason Kidd, who has impacted this team in more ways than what can be measured in a box score. However, Brewer has performed incredibly well in his first 16 games as a Knick. He has started all 16 games this season, starting at both small forward and shooting guard. Brought in as a defensive stalwart, Brewer has been very solid on that end of the floor as expected. Suprisingly, his impact has mostly been felt on the offensive end of the floor.
A career 26% three point shooter, Brewer was not thought of as a guy who would contribute much on the offensive side of things. He was brought in as a defender who would bring a defensive balance alongside more offense oriented players like Carmelo Anthony, Raymond Felton and JR Smith. To the surprise of everybody, including Brewer himself probably, he has been much more than that. More
In what feels like their 50th Sunday morning matinee game of the season, the Knicks defeated the hapless Phoenix Suns 106-99. Basically the game went like this. The Knicks started well, then Phoenix came back at the end of the first quarter. In the second quarter, the Knicks blew out the Suns 35-22 and went into halftime with a comfortable 17 point lead. New York’s second half defense was pitiful and the Suns had a 30 point third quarter. Luckily for the Knicks, the Suns defense is horrible and the Knicks also had a 30 point quarter. In the 4th, the Knicks defense was bad and the Knicks offense was bad and when your offense is bad and your defense is bad, you usually don’t play very well. Phoenix beat the Knicks 27-17 in the 4th, but the Knicks were able to hang on at the end and escape with a 7 point Knick lead.
The 7-10 Phoenix Suns come into Sunday’s matinee at Madison Square Garden coming off back-to-back losses at the hands of the mighty Pistons and the riveting Raptors. Wait no, both those teams suck. Our 11-4 Knickerbockers are coming off back-to-back blowout victories against the Bucks and lowly Washington Generals Wizards. New York looks to continue defending their home court as they are 6-0 at the friendly confines of Madison Square Garden through these first 15 games.
In terms of pace, the Knicks play super slow while the Suns play the NBA’s 6th fastest pace. Phoenix is the 10th best offensive team in the league, coming in with a 102.8 offensive efficiency. Point guard Goran Dragic and center Marcin Gortat make up one of the more dynamic offensive duos in the league. Though often hilarious, forward Michael Beasley can light it up if he gets hot. Phoenix does have some wings who can get hot shooting, guys like Jared Dudley and Shannon Brown. Defensively the Suns are putrid, coming into the game with the 4th worst defensive efficiency in the league.