Guard the Guards
The Knicks did what they had to do against the lowly Magic, with an easy 113-97 win Wednesday night. While the Knicks played well offensively, there are some defensive cracks worth talking about. Over their last three games, the Knicks have been absolutely hammered by guards.
After Jeff Teague and Jrue Holiday went off for 27 and 35 points respectively, the Knicks allowed Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick to score 50 points (17-31 FGA). It’s hard to point at one particular guard, as Raymond Felton (117 defensive rating over the last three games), James White (116.3 DRtg), Pablo Prignoni (113 DRtg), and J.R. Smith (115.3 DRtg) have been equally inept.
If their recent woes weren’t enough, the Bucks and Brandon Jennings have caused problems for the Knicks. Jennings plays with a chip on his shoulder vs. the Knicks, likely due to the fact the Knicks passed on him for Jordan Hill in the first round of the 2009 draft. According to Ian Begley of ESPN New York, Jennings averages 20.1 pts/game versus the Knicks, Jennings’ highest average versus teams in the East. The Knicks haven’t fared well against Milwaukee at home in general, going 2-6 over their last eight home games versus the Bucks.
Paging Steve Novak
Speaking of Milwaukee, let’s talk about Marquette’s second favorite son, Steve Novak. If it feels like all you’ve heard from Steve Novak this year is him making fun of Nate Robinson taking his celebration dance, you’re probably right. While Novak’s season stats are slightly under last year’s pace, Novak has disappeared from the Knicks offense for stretches. Prior to the Orlando game, Novak had not made multiple threes in four games, Novak’s third such stretch this season.
Novak is incredibly valuable when he gets open - the Knicks are 14-1 when Novak attempts at least six threes, and according to 82games.com, Novak has the best Net48 (team’s net points per 48 minutes of playing time) of any Knick. The Knicks will succeed when Novak is on the floor - it’s a matter of how long Coach Mike Woodson can keep giving Novak big minutes if he disappears on the offensive end.