It is absolutely hilarious to me that the Knicks spent all those years sucking and clearing their cap to build this team-- a team that has won three more games than the Detroit Pistons this season. For every Miami Heat, there's going to be a New York Knicks, a team that loses out on superstar talent and instead signs fool's gold. This should set an example for big market teams who want to slash-and-sign, and it should also set an example for whiny "superstars" who demand trades. Two thumbs up, New York.
Game Tips at 7:30P.M. EST
Detroit Pistons: 4 - 18 (1 - 10 road)
New York Knicks: 7 - 13 (3 - 6 home)
If the Knicks stick with a core of Stoudemire, Anthony and Chandler, it's not likely that they'll be much more than a .500 team. In 2014/15, the combined salaries of these three players alone will exceed the current cap by nearly $3 million. They don't have the pieces to trade for anything of value, they're unlikely to draft anyone of merit and they can only rely on exceptions to sign free agents. It's going to take a big trade (where the Knicks ship out one of their big three) or a hell of a lot of luck for this team to field a roster that is capable of a playoff run beyond the first round.
It doesn't help New York that Amar'e and Carmelo are having the worst seasons of their respective careers. Stoudemire is shooting 43% from the field and only pulling five whistles a contest, the latter of which used to be his only semi-superstar skill. Carmelo Anthony is shooting 39% on 20 attempts per game. The two are combining for 41 points on 35 attempts with 6 turnovers per game. On offense, they are effectively playing their team out of the game.
Tyson Chandler, however, is still in offensive beast mode. He picked up where he left off last year and continues to lead the league in true shooting percentage and offensive rating, making him the most effective offensive option in the NBA. But since he attempts less than 5 shots per game, that efficiency isn't putting NYK over the top even against middle-of-the-road competition. Over the last ten games, the Knicks have won only one-- against the worst team in the league, the Charlotte Bobcats.
Injury update- Carmelo Anthony has missed the last two games and is a game-time decision tonight, although it is looking likely that he will return. Ben Gordon, Will Bynum and Charlie Villanueva all remain day-to-day. If only Prince was on the bench with them...
Keys to the Game:
Defend the Paint - the Knicks attempt the third most perimeter shots in the game, but they only connect on 31%. Their saving grace is their performance on isolation and post-up plays closer to the basket. If the Knicks aren't connected on perimeter shots tonight, it might make sense to sag off of the perimeter a bit to defend dribble penetration and post-up attempts. Greg Monroe and Jonas Jerebko have been far above average when defending individual post plays this season, so they're going to be effective tonight against Stoudemire and Anthony should he return.
Run some damned pick and rolls - Both Monroe and Jerebko have been wildly efficient on pick-and-roll plays this season. Synergy has recorded 71 combined pick-and-roll attempts for Monroe and Jerebko, and their performance has them ranked 13th and 16th in the league regardless of position. Larry Frank, these two players could pick-and-roll a team like New York to death in a heartbeat.
Feed the Moose - Beyond the aforementioned pick-and-rolls, let's get Monroe some more quality shots and let him do a bit of distribution in the high post. It's downright sinful that Tayshaun Prince should take more shots than Moose, especially when Monroe's attempt average is inflated by put-backs. Then there's the whole Prince-is-shooting-only-41% thing.
Question of the Game:
Unrelated question - do you think the Pistons will make a trade prior to the deadline? If so, who do you think will be dealt?