Saturday, February 2, 2008

Opposing View - 2/2 vs. New York

All season long, Sonics Beat will be consulting an expert on the opposing team as part our gameday preview. Today, we get another NBA blog veteran in Mike Kurylo of Also see's preview of tonight's game and the Posting and Toasting blog. And while we're talking KnickerBlogger, don't forget to check out their stats page daily for the latest advanced metrics.

The Knicks seemed to find a better rhythm in January. What was the difference?
One difference was an easier schedule. They beat the Nets, Heat, Wizards and Sixers in a six-game span. And throw in a "any-team-can-win-on-any-night" win against the Pistons, and they looked good for a stretch.

But the Knicks did improve slightly. They were competetive on a tough west coast trip against the Warriors, Lakers, and Jazz, albeit all losses. Part of the reason is Isiah giving more burn to defensive minded players. The Knicks have an surplus of scorers and a dearth of defenders. But recently Coach Thomas has given more playing time to Jared Jeffries, Fred Jones, and Mardy Collins. The NBA is about team balance, and these players have value on a defensively-starved team like New York.

Seattle native Nate Robinson is playing his best basketball. Besides playing time, what's behind the stretch?
He's maturing as a player. Nate was the MVP of the summer league, so the talent is there. With Marbury out, he's the main PG on the team, which is difference from his previous role. In the past Robinson was frequently the shooting guard on offense. These days Nate frequently runs the offense, and he's doing a good job balancing finding his own shot with distributing the ball to his teammates. Additionally this year, Nate also has become more mature mentally. He's less likely to let his emotions take over, which is a departure from the past.

If the Knicks need a bucket late in the game, who will they go to?
Most likely Jamal Crawford. Isiah Thomas doesn't keep Nate Robinson in the final minutes of a game for defensive purposes. Eddy Curry has largely been ineffective, because defenses are more frequently exploiting his weaknesses. They either double-team him to take advantage of his lack of passing, or they flop to draw a charge against him. The other person you might see take a late shot is Zach Randolph. Although billed as a power forward who likes to earn his keep in the paint, Randolph has fallen in love with his jump shot.

In 100 words or less, why should the Knicks free David Lee?
Eddy Curry and Zach Randolph play better with Lee than they do with each other. Lee has earned the nickname "Good Things" because that's what happens to the Knicks with him on the floor. He compliments his teammates better than either Curry or Randolph. He doesn't need the ball often, he doesn't turn it over, he passes well, and he's great in finishing around the hoop. The Knicks know what they have with Eddy Curry and Zach Randolph. It's time to find what they have with David Lee.

(88 words.)

What don't we know but should about the Knicks?
They're playing more zone lately. They're giving more minutes to defenders. They're turning the ball over less on offense. But they're still a bad team. You can attack them in the middle because they don't have a shot blocker in the front court. They are still one of the worst defensive teams in the league.