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Game 33 Preview: Knicks vs. Blazers

Well, the most overpaid team in the whole history of forever comes to town tonight.  We've struggled with the Knicks for a long time even when they were plumbing the depths of suckitude.  But there's still plenty of reason to go to the game.  First of all, there will be no long concession lines.  Second, if we manage to get our heads out of our posteriors long enough to play some ball we might actually have a chance to win.  And third, who could resist the chance to say goodbye to Isiah on his last trip through town?

A Look at the Knicks

We'll start with the good stuff, because it's shorter.  This season has been about two players for the Knicks:  Eddy Curry and David Lee.  Much like former mate Tyson Chandler in New Orleans, Curry is finally starting to show some payoff on his promise.  He's averaging 18 and 7 off of good post play.  He still can't defend outside of the occasional blocked shot, he still checks out mentally from time to time, and with his three-plus turnovers a game his assist-to-turnover ratio is so low you have to get a scientific calculator to measure any number besides zero.  But on this team he's a bright spot.  Young David Lee is shooting 62.5% (on far fewer shots than Curry though) and is averaging over 10 rebounds a game.  He's gobbled up playing time from most of the other forwards on the squad and is one of the few guys that seems into it almost every night.  Because of these two, the Knicks are a good rebounding team, averaging 4.5 more per game than their opponents.  Like most offense-first teams they're better on the offensive rebounding side of things than the defensive but they're still a force to be reckoned with in that area.

On the bad side of the ledger is, well, everything else.  The team is 13-21 for a reason.  Jamaal Crawford is averaging 16.6 points per game, which is three above his career average.  But he's doing it on 38.5% shooting.  (No truth to the rumor that Allen Iverson, when playing against the Knicks, said, "That guy's got to get a conscience!")  Quentin Richardson is rebounding well but is out with back spasms.  Stephon Marbury is averaging 13 ppg, seven below his career average.  Steve Francis is averaging 10 ppg, almost nine below his career average.  (He's also having knee problems.)  Channing Frye's scoring has gone down and he's only shooting 40%, which is horrible for a forward.  Between injuries and fighting suspensions Jared Jeffries has played in seven whole games this season.  I guess little Nate Robinson is having a better year but you're in trouble when your big backcourt splash is 5'9" tall.

New York's style is to put up a lot of shots and hope enough of them fall to give them the win.  You won't see them letting grass grow under their feet.  They have a lot of people who think they're 3-point shooters but the only legit one is Q-Rich, and as we just said he's probably out.  They draw a ton of fouls but they shoot poorly from the line so that doesn't help them much.  They turn the ball over a ton and even though they score 99 a game they give up 102.5.  In other words they do everything they possibly can to make sure you win the game and if you can't do it, it's your own stupid fault.

Summation:  To say Knicks fans are singing the blues would be an understatement.  At this point they're probably well into the purples.

Things I'd like to see:

  1.  They have no credible defense at any position.  We just need to take smart, open shots and outscore them to win this game.  Zach in the post, the guards slashing or ready to receive the swing around the's as simple as that.
  2.  Our guards are going to have a hard time defending their veterans.  Marbury, Francis, and Crawford may all be shooting 40% or below but this is exactly the kind of game they can go off in.  It's OK if one of them does because we can still compensate as long as we keep our heads on our end.  We cannot get caught up in a fast-paced, chuck-it-up showdown though.  With their superior rebounding they'll win that.  We need to play calm, controlled, and smart.  They may get a hot streak going but over 48 minutes brains will prevail (if we employ them).
  3.  Clog up the middle and force them outside.  Let them get hot all they want from the arc.  If the ball isn't in the paint they won't be drawing fouls and they can't hit enough three-pointers to win.
  4.  They won't take care of the ball, which means if we do we should have an advantage.  I don't expect we'll be able to run off of their turnovers, but it will be enough for us not to make them ourselves.
  5.  They do not move the ball much, so double teams may be effective, especially on Marbury and Curry.
  6.  In case I wasn't clear...CONTROL THE TEMPO.  They need all 80+ shot attempts to even sniff at a win.  If you give them 73 they lose.  They've only won once all season when they've scored fewer than 97 points.
I hope Nate's practice drilled some sense into our guys' heads because we can't keep losing to these injury-ridden Eastern Conference teams that are ripe for the picking.

--Dave (