[Thanks to Secret Chimp for today's game preview. Gonna make this the game thread as well. Lame sub-headline all mine -yfbb]
NYC likes to style itself the natural home of the game of basketball, the true hoop capital of the world, in much the same way Amsterdam claims cannabis tourism and tall girls on bikes. That there might be taller girls elsewhere, or better hash, or cities that have won NBA championships more recently than the Nixon era … well, that just doesn’t enter into the conversation.
But, to be fair, the Knicks are hands-down New York’s favorite team. With multiple franchises on offer, the other major sports fracture the local fans’ loyalties. Even when the Nets move across two rivers later this year they’ll exist primarily as the anchor tenant of a massive real estate rip-off, as an afterthought, not a serious rival for the city’s affection. The Knicks are it, even if exactly what that “it” is changes from week to week as has been the case amid the general, league-wide craziness of a constricted season. They’re a team that stands a nearly equal chance of winning the Atlantic and claiming the 4th seed, or of missing the playoffs entirely. So this preview isn’t really about the Knicks so much as it’s about this week’s Knicks.
Michael Jordan was born in Brooklyn, yo. Maybe you’ve heard of him.
In the wake of the Bulls victory over them in mid-March, Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni resigned to be replaced by assistant coach and defensive specialist Mike Woodson. The Knicks have played 10-3 ball under his leadership, yielding a stingy 80.3 PA in their victories as opposed to 102.6 in their losses. A stark difference. A small sample size. Angels fear to tread.
Gone too is point guard Jeremy Lin, lost to a season-ending knee injury. Baron Davis should start at point today. He’s been giving the Knicks twenty-five minutes of merely serviceable play over the past six games, the first he’s started all season. Amar’e Stoudamire will miss today’s game (and the next few weeks) with an ailing disc in his back. The Knicks hope to have Jared Jeffries return from a knee injury today, and he may get the call to start at PF.
With these three changes -- at coach, at point, and at the four -- the Knicks offense now fully belongs to Carmelo Anthony. This makes for a happy Carmelo, and a happy Carmelo tends to stay active and give better effort on both ends of the floor. And defense is what’s going to win the Knicks ballgames. Anthony scored a season-high 39 points this past Tuesday to the Pacers, a game the Knicks managed to lose despite entering the fourth quarter with a 17-point lead. Two days later, the Knicks took a 15-point lead into the fourth against the Magic and opened the period playing full-court, pressure defense and won by 16. Lesson learned, at least by this week’s Knicks.
Additionally: Posting and Toasting