Melo Gets His Revenge
Although Marv Albert may have been intrigued by the reception Carmelo Anthony received in Boston and Celtics fans may have been excited to sneak Honey Nut Cheerios boxes into the stands, Thursday night was important for the Knicks in the Eastern Conference.
Although Boston was (and still is) reeling with six straight losses, Boston is the type of team New York had struggled against. They play strong physical defense (103.2 points per 100 possessions) and have someone who could get the Knicks to lose their cool (Kevin Garnett). An 89-86 win, though not pretty, is the type of win the Knicks will need in March and April.
Move The Ball
Casual observers of the Knicks know their offense works best with good ball movement, whether it’s the pick and roll or having one of their bigger players post up and kick out. Now we have some stats to prove it.
According to Jared Zwerling of ESPN New York, Kyrie Irving is the best isolation player with 1.07 points per play (PPP); Carmelo Anthony is 11th averaging 0.92 PPP. However, Anthony is more effective as a post-up player, averaging 0.97 PPP, which is good for third in the NBA (Kobe Bryant leads with 1.11 PPP).
This can primarily be attributed to Anthony, while playing power forward most of the season, has still been guarded by the opposing small forward, who he can bully in the paint. On nights like Thursday, when Anthony shoots 11-28, efficiency will be vital to future success.
When the Knicks visit the City of Brotherly Love to take on the Clippers tonight, the Knicks will be the healthiest they might be all season. Although Marcus Camby and Rasheed Wallace are still unlikely to play, Raymond Felton returns from a broken finger, and will immediately return to the starting role.
This will move James White/Chris Copeland, one of whom had started the past six games, back to the end of the bench. Both have showed promise in spurts, but are not NBA starters on a playoff team. Iman Shumpert, in his limited time in the NBA, has shown he is one of the best defensive guards in the NBA. The question for the Knicks is how Shumpert will handle defending players who may be bigger than him on a nightly basis.
He gets a good early test tonight facing former Ohio State standout Evan Turner, who is averaging 14 points and five assists per game. If Shumpert struggles, it would not surprise me to see Amar'e Stoudemire make his return to the starting lineup, re-starting the inevitable discussion if he and Melo can co-exist once again.