Could this Knicks run be real? It sure seems that way. Almost halfway into the season for the Knicks, and they haven't slowed down yet. numberFire's current NBA projections peg New York with a 100.0 percent chance of making the playoffs and a 11.0 percent chance of winning the NBA title. Yes, that's a better than one-in-ten chance of winning it all. Hop in your time machine and tell that to James Dolan one year ago today to watch him faint (an activity that every true Knicks fan would love).
And for now, the Knicks may be slowing a bit (having lost four of their last six), but they're certainly not stopping. And against the Celtics and Rajon Rondo tonight, the Man that Time Forgot, 79-year-old Jason Kidd, will be a huge key to their success.
Just a Kidd
Want the exact opposite of the beating that Steve Nash is taking in Los Angeles? Then head to the other coast, where Kidd is experiencing a Renaissance that would make Da Vinci proud.
The Knicks this season are first in the NBA with a 10.6 percent offensive turnover rate, more than four percentage points lower than last season's rate that still saw them in the top half of the league. And while some of the other New York stars are contributing to that total (Melo, for one, has a career-low 9.1 TOV%), Kidd as the main ball handler has been taking the slow-and-steady approach to new heights.
Kidd's current 16.1 TOV% is the fourth-lowest of his career, only behind his 15.7 percent in Phoenix back in the 1998-1999 season, and his back-to-back sub-16 percent seasons for New Jersey between 2004 and 2006. Since Obama took office, Kidd hasn't registered a single-season below a 20 percent turnover rate, with his best year in Dallas sitting at 21.4 percent.
When compared with past Knicks stars, Kidd's rate looks even better. Linsanity had a 21.7 TOV% for the Knicks last year. Baron Davis, bless his heart, was up above 28 percent. And even Raymond Felton has never gotten that whole don't-turn-the-ball-over thing down, sitting at 16.9 percent in his first trip to NYC (although his rate has lowered to 12.1 the second time around, as he was playing alongside Kidd in many lineups before getting injured).
It's not just the turnovers for Kidd, though. His offensive rating is a career-high 121, his 103 defensive rating is his second-best since the '06-07 season, and his .580 effective field goal percentage (eFG%) is an all-time high. While some of the credit belongs to Mike Woodson's system, the other part is that, well, Kidd's really just that good.
Slow it Down - Don't expect a barnburner tonight. Both teams are 20th or below in terms of overall pace (possessions per 48 minutes), and the Celtics are 27th in the NBA in offensive rating with 102.1 points per 100 possessions.
Return of the Man - Waiting for Amar'e's time to shine? This could be it. The Celtics have a Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of 12.8 at the power forward slot this year, far below the league average of 15.0. They're letting their opponents, meanwhile, have a 17.5 PER at power forward against them.
Pierce My Heart - Paul Pierce is having a season to forget in Boston - his .485 eFG% is his worst since 2004. But if he's going to turn it around, tonight would be a good night to bet on it: the Knicks are allowing opposing small forwards to shoot .559 eFG% from the field, over .050 better than from any other position on the court.