Tonight the Knicks (9-9) host the Nets (6-11). The pre-game intel for this game comes to us from Jaime Oppenheim, the managing editor of “Whoop De Damn Do” a Nets blog from the Bloguin network. The good thing for us is that Jaime’s Nets are as bad away (2-7) as we are at home (2-5). This is clearly a good opportunity for the Knicks to act like they’re at home in their home. LGK. (Note: You may also want to check out another good pre-game analysis at Whoop De Damn Do by a couple of their regular writers.
The Nets seem to be having more problems adapting to Avery Johnson’s style than expected. After such an active summer, what is wrong with the Nets?
I actually think it’s the other way around. The Nets aren’t having trouble adapting to Avery’s system, Avery seems reluctant to adapt to his personnel. It’s all about Brook, and Avery hasn’t figured out how to use him.
Brook doesn’t have Nowitzki’s or Duncan’s ability to get clean looks at the hoop in isolation situations. Even in the post, he’s almost limited to shooting straight over the top of his opponent. Avery hasn’t done much in the way of setting screens for him or having him flash into the paint to create separation. Last season, Lopez and Harris found success running the pick-and-roll. That hasn’t been in the playbook this year. When the Nets’ bigs set screens at the top of the key, it’s rarely to attack the defense – actually, I don’t even know what they are trying to accomplish. Watch those plays tonight. The whole sequence is baffling.
What can we expect from the Nets in terms of how they attack the Knicks?
The Nets are going to try and force a slower tempo. They take their time getting into sets and never push the ball up the court. If the Knicks want a track meet, it won’t come easy.
Brook will likely be featured early in the post, since he can shoot over Turiaf (if he plays) and expose Mozgov’s youth and thin frame. I’m guessing he’ll disappear shortly thereafter.
The key for the Knicks, though, will be containing Harris. He’s shown the ability to take over games when he gets rolling. He might start quiet, but he’ll come out firing in the second half. The Nets are 5-2 when he scores 20 points or more.
What can we expect defensively from the Nets?
A major upgrade over what we’ve seen in years past. Harris in particular has really stepped up his game, to the point where he locked down Joe Johnson for much of last week’s game against the Hawks. Physical guards have given him trouble in the past, but Felton is going to have to work hard.
You won’t see anything exotic, and you probably won’t even see any exciting plays, but this a gritty bunch. They’re playing tough and showing signs of decent fundamentals. Kris Humphries has been a revelation at power forward. He’ll be overmatched going against Amare, but he can still make it a long night for STAT.
What must the Knicks do to beat the Nets? Can we run them out of the arena?
Of course the Knicks can run the Nets out of the building, as almost any team in the league can on any given night. They have the offensive weapons to do so, at least. That being said, Avery got his players’ attention following Saturday’s loss to the 6ers. The team is taking on his demeanor and I’m not sure they’re going to play sloppy and lazy enough to get run out of the Garden.
The key for the Knickerbockers will be slowing down Lopez and Harris, something that can be done. Travis Outlaw and Anthony Morrow have had moments, but the Nets just don’t have the firepower on most nights to win if the co-captains aren’t playing well. Force Brook and Devin out of the paint and the Nets are likely to brick their way out of the game.