Knicks_v_Bobcats_01.07.09

New York Knicks versus Charlotte Bobcats (01/07/2010 @ 7:30)

NY Knicks v. Cha. Bobcats 01/07/2010

The New York Knicks have been on an impressive winning trend, well when considering the futility of the team in previous seasons. In the month of December the Knicks went 9 – 6, and since December the Knicks are 11 – 6 having won nearly two thirds of their games. Near the end of December the Knicks went on a short downturn in which they went 1 – 3. With the re-insertion of Nate Robinson in the starting lineup to start the New Years, the Knicks have cranked out a short two game winning streak in which they beat the Atlanta Hawks and had a runaway win against the Indiana Pacers in which they outscored the Pacers by about 48 points to close out with a 132 – 89 win.

The Knicks resurrgence over the month of December can be attributed to a slower game pace that has adapted to the talent level and skill sets of the players on the current Knicks roster and to an improved emphasis on defense, which has been spearheaded by the hustle, selflessness and intangibles of Jared Jefferies. Jefferies play has rubbed off on the rest of the team as they have shown more active feet on the perimeter, more active hands in the paint, and better coordination in switching up and providing help defense to their teamates. D’Antoni has also sprung a 2-3 zone, which Jefferies anchors with his excellent roaming and help defense abilities, that has helped slow and at times stall opposing offenses.

Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus documents the Knicks defensive turnaround in his January 5, 2010 article “Making a Run: The New – Look Knicks.”

Pelton’s article is a good read but appears to not connect the dots between a slower game pace and a lesser tendency to merely gamble on the defensive end to create steals for purposes of forcing the D’Antoni fast break. The Knicks tendency to gamble to force the break had a sieve like effect on the Knicks early season defense as the bastardized version of D’Antoni’s Seven Seconds or Less failed and fell by the way side.

Pelton’s article can be found at: http://www.basketballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=847

An unheralded reason for the Knicks resurgence may also be attributed the the Franchises decision not to sign Allen Iverson, whose apparent me first attitude and displeasure towards practice, were contrary to the leadership the Knicks needed on the court and practice field and would have compounded the then Struggling Knicks already apparent malaise. In the absence of Iverson, and as Nate Robinson began a D’Antoni imposed “disciplanary” exile on the bench, Forward Al Harrington emerged from his role as 6th man. Harrington entered the starting lineup and his play set an example for the young up and coming forwards, Wilson Chandler and Danillo Gallinari. The example set by Harrington during the early part of the Knicks December revival came by way of his aggresive and decisive play on the court in taking the ball inside for higher percentage shots rather than merely relying on the vaunted D’Antoni long ball. Gallinari and Chandler appear to have learned from Harrington’s example as both have shown greater aggression and decisiveness themselves in taking the ball inside rather than just launching three pointers.

For an excellent articl regarding the Knicks, and other NBA teams, recent revival in the midst of Mediocre NBA season with much parity at the lower tier of the league, read Randy Hill’s – Knicks Among NBA Teams Rising From the Dead.

Hill’s article can be found at: http://msn.foxsports.com/nba/story/nba-resurrections-010610

If the Knicks have had an impressive month long trend, the Charlotte Bobcats recent streak of play may very well be more impressive. Although the Bobcats were subpar in the month of December going 5 – 9 they have gone into a solid trend of play, as they have secure 4 of their last 5 wins against teams either in the playoffs field or very well in the playoff hunt. In particular the Bobcats recent wins have come against the 6th seeded Toronto Raptors, 5th seeded Miami Heat, 2nd seeded Cleveland Cavaliers and recently 8th seeded but now 9th seeded Chicago Bulls. While two of the Bobcats wins came at home against the Bucks and the Bulls, two of the four wins that have put the Bobcats into the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference have come on the road, where the Cats had previously gone 1 – 14. The Bobcats have also gotten the better of the Knicks during their last 5matchups going 4 -1 and currently controlling the season series with a 2 -1 record, with both wins coming at home.

The Bobcats recent climb in the ranks of the Eastern Conference may be attributed to the teams strength on Defense its control of the boards and this years acquisitions of Talented Starting Swing Guard/Forward Stephen J. Jackson, and Shooting Guard Flip Murray who have added a much needed scoring punch and swagger to the Bobcats lineup.

Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer chronicles, the impact that both Stephen Jackson and Flip Murray have had on the rising fortunes of the Bobcats in his January 4, 2010 article entitled “Jackson, Murray add needed strut to Bobcats.”

Bonnell’s article can be found at: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/bobcats/story/1160425.html

The NBA.com webpage samples a portion of Bonnell’s article and expands upon the Bobcat resurgence by focusing on the exploits of current Knicks’ killer Swingman – Forward, Gerald Wallace’s. The NBA.com’s Sekou Smith dubs Gerald Wallace, “The Hardest Working Man in Basketball … “, in his January 6, 2010 article.

Sekou’s article can be found at: http://my.nba.com/cms/106755/the_hardest_working_man_in_basketball_…?ls=iref:nbahpt1

Now to a quick take on the upcoming Knicks game against the Bobcats

On a first take the matchup appears to be one easily favors the Bobcats. The Bobcats strength on defense was apparent in taking away the Duhon to Lee Pick and Role and the defensive pressure provided by the Bobcats athletic Swingmen in Stephen Jackson and Gerald Walllace present matchup challenges for the still offensively and defensively raw yet active Knicks Forward, Danillo Gallinari. The Bobcats strength in controlling and winning their rebounding battles in game played seems tailored to give the Cats the leg up on the boards against the Knicks who generally are unable to win on the boards. Those advantages should give Knicks fans further reasons to wonder whether the Knicks can pull off a win against the surging Bobcats.

However, the Knicks are no longer attempting to play the Seven Seconds or Less style of play, in which the team gambled to force steals that left their defense vulnerable and undermanned when the gamble fail, they are more methodical and deliberate in their offense and will only run when those opportunities present themselves. The more deliberate tempo to the offense is complimented by the Jefferies anchored defense which is complimented by the use of zones that play to Jefferies ability to provide help defense and roam where needed. The improved help defense and rotation had resulted in a eleven game stand in which the Knicks held opposing offenses under 100 points. On offense Gallinari, and Chandler have become less prone to settle for long jumpers and will drive inside. The Knicks also use picks and switches to free up their long forwards, Gallo, Chandler and Harrington to create post up opportunities against opposing defenders caught in mismatches. The Knicks have again redisovered that Nate Robinson can provide the team scoring when their other guns aren’t firing on all cylinders- Nate and Harrington’s scoring off the bench provide a much needed spark to the teams second units and give the Knicks strong and capable bench scoring. Nate’s bravado and energy alone brings the Knicks an added swagger that they will need against the Bobcats guns Jackson and Murray.

This should be a good game as the two teams have played close games during the three prior occassions. There appears to be more riding on this game for the Knicks than the Bobcats, as the Cats have established themselves in the 7th spot in the Eastern Conference Playoff race and the Knicks need to avoid handing the Cats over a tie breaker should both teams find themselves in a last month or week run for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. A win by the Knicks would place them half a game behind the Milwaukee Bucks for the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. Unlike the previous game on December 20, 2009, Gerald Wallace should play. Then again the Knicks should have their full aresenal as well as Nate Robinson is back in the rotation. The Bobcats have turned the tide on an awful 1 – 14 road record by starting off the New Years with a 2 – 0 road record with victories against the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers. Will the well rested Knicks with their improved tempo on the offensive end and commitment to playing consistent defensive basketball be able to stop the surging Bobcats and end their snap their three game winning streak.

New York Knicks Coach and Starting Lineup
Knicks_Starting_Lineup_01.03.10
Charlotte Hornets Coach and Starting Lineup
Bobcats_Starters
New York Knicks versus Charlotte Bobcats

14-20 (.412) 3rd in Atlantic, 10th in Eastern Conference

Home Record 8-10

Road Record 6-10

Last 10 Games 6-4

15-18 (.455) 4th in Southeast, 7th in Eastern Conference

Home Record 12-4

Road Record 3-14

Last 10 Games 5-5

Knicks’ Statistical Leaders

Bobcat’s Statistical Leaders

D. Lee              18.8

Points

G. Wallace      17.9

D. Lee              11.0      (7th in NBA)

Rebounds

G. Wallace      11.8      (3rd in NBA)

C. Duhon           6.5     (10th in NBA)

Assists

R. Felton          5.1

L. Hughes          1.44

Steals

R. Felton          1.85     (Tie for 7th in NBA)

J. Jefferies          1.12

Blocks

T. Chandler      1.16

D. Lee             57.267   (6th in NBA)

Field Goal Percentage

R. Felton        47.143

W. Chandler    84.000

Free Throw Percentage

S. Jackson      81.967

D. Gallinari        .408

Three Point Percentage

R. Felton            .385

Team Statistical Comparison

New York Knicks

Charlotte Bobcats

Pts. Per Game 101.9

(9th in NBA)

Opp. Per Gm.     102.7

(23rd in NBA)

Points

Pts. Per Game       92.8

(27th in NBA)

Opp. Per Gm 93.0

(2nd in NBA)

Pct. Per Game 45.21

(20th NBA)

Opp. Per Gm.     47.37

(26th in NBA)

Field Goal Percentage

Pct. Per Game     44.60

(21st in NBA)

Opp. Per Gm. 44.64

(9th in NBA)

Pct. Per Game .338

(19th in NBA)

Opp. Per Gm. .306

(1st in NBA)

Three Point Field Goal Percentage

Pct. Per Game       .323

(24th in NBA)

Opp. Per Gm.       .334

(7th in NBA)

Att. Per Game       21.6

(28th in NBA)

Opp.  Per Gm.      24.1

(13th in NBA)

Free Throw Attempts Per Game

Att. Per Game 26.6

(5th in NBA)

Opp. Per Gm. 22.2

(3rd in NBA)

FT. Per. Gm. 76.81

(11th in NBA)

Free Throw Percentage

FT. Per Gm.        73.72

(22nd in NBA)

Tot. Per Gm. 41.1

(19th in NBA)

Opp.  Per Gm.      44.5

(27th in NBA)

Rebounding

Tot. Per Gm.         40.0

(27th in NBA)

Opp. Per Gm. 39.3

(8th in NBA)

Tot. Per Game 31.0

(10th in NBA)

Opp.  Per Gm.      33.6

(27th in NBA)

Defensive Rebounds Per Game

Tot. Per Game      29.9

(23rd in NBA)

Opp. Per Gm. 29.4

(10th in NBA)

Tot. Per Game      10.1

(25th in NBA)

Opp. Per Gm.       10.9

(12th in NBA)

Offensive Rebounds Per Game

Tot. Per Game      10.1

(27th NBA)

Opp. Per Gm. 9.9

(5th NBA)

Total Per Game 21.6

(10th in NBA)

Opp. Per Gm.       20.1

(14th in NBA)

Assists

Total Per Game     18.7

(26th in NBA)

Opp. Per Gm. 19.5

(8th in NBA)

Total Per Game     7.62

(12th in NBA)

Opp. Per Gm. 7.03

(10th in NBA)

Steals

Total Per Game 7.82

(6th in NBA)

Opp. Per Gm.       7.73

(24th in NBA)

Total Per Game     4.29

(24th in NBA)

Opp. Per Gm. 4.38

(8th in NBA)

Blocks

Total Per Game 4.70

(18th NBA)

Opp. Per Gm.       6.64

(30th NBA)

 

STARTING LINE-UPS

Knicks’ Probable Starting Line-up

Bobcats’s Probable Starting Lineup

W. Chandler (Guard/Forward)

S. Jackson (Guard/Forward)

J. Jefferies (Forward/Center)

G. Wallace (Forward)

D. lee (Center/Forward)

N. Mohammed (Center)

D. Gallinari (Forward)

B. Diaw (Power Forward)

C. Duhon (Point Guard)

R. Felton (Point Guard)

Key Reserves

Key Reserves

A. Harrington, N. Robinson, J. Bender

R. Murray, D. Augustin, D. Diop

Injuries

Injuries

* L. Hughes, D. Milicic, and E. Curry out with injured egos due to no playing Time

* T. Chandler out recovering from stress fracture in left foot.