Early tip for we Westerners, so an early preview. Also, apologies for the lack of a Sunday preview -- I am bad at communicating with people. (Aykis' Note: Aykis Fail! Fifty lashes and a healthy ration of Sportsline 1140 for me.)
THE SCOUTING REPORT
The word from HighTops, as always:
An Opponent we can beat, in the Knick of time.
On March 20th of the 08/09 season, Sacramento ran out to a 15-0 lead at the Garden and handed the Knicks a 121-94 loss, for the Kings only Eastern Conference victory. On November 25th this season, Sacramento opened up a 19-6 lead to begin the game in a 111-97 win at Arco Arena, for their 2nd wire to wire victory in a row against the Knicks. And while no road victory is easy, Tuesday is the "2nd Annual Jewish Heritage Night" at the Garden, so what better time for Omri Casspi to lead the Kings to their third wire to wire victory over the Knicks.
Currently New York is 3 games ahead of the Kings in the standings at 19-31. But, they’ve really had an easy schedule since the 1st of January going 7-11, while going 5-5 at home. Of those 7 victories only 1 was against a team above .500, and they’ve lost to MIL, MIN, & WAS.
Coach D’Antoni replaced Chris Duhon in the starting line up with Nate Robinson, after Robinson lead a 2nd half comeback against Washington on Feb. 3rd. D’Antoni said. "I’ll play eight or nine guys. These are veterans and they will not play five or six minutes. They need a block of minutes – 20 minutes sometimes. And if you aren’t in that group, then you fall out of the rotation. That happens and your job is to be ready." So, Duhon should still see considerable PT.
Besides Robinson, New York’s starting five are Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Jared Jeffries and David Lee. The bench consists of Duhon, Al Harrington, rookie Jordan Hill, and with Larry Hughes listed as Day to Day with a toe injury, we could see Toney Douglas. Duhon is the Knicks best assist man 6.3 apg, but his 8 ppg on 34.8% shooting probably cost him the starting job. Harrington is 2nd in the NBA in Scoring off the Bench, averaging 17.6 pts & 5.8 rpg playing 28.5 mpg. As a lottery pick, Hill has been a disappointment, scoring only 4.3 ppg and 2.6 rpg.
From the Starters, Chandler is putting up decent numbers, 15.2 pts/5.4 rpg on 47.4% field but only 26.3% from 3pt range. Jeffries is only contributing 5.2 pts/4.2 rpg on 44.3% field and 28.3% on 3’s. And, Robinson averages 12.9 pts, 3.5 asts, and 2.4 rebs on 46.7% field. Danilo Gallinari is proving to be a three-point specialist with an NBA leading 127 three pointers (.401%). This season 55% of his points come from three-point shots. He hit at least six 3’s four times, three 3’s 26 times, and he’s attempted at least ten 3 pointers 8 times in 47 games this season. But, the main guy is David Lee. David Lee, the reigning double double king (65 last season), recorded his 30th double double this week, which is 5th most in the NBA. Lee is 2nd among centers in scoring with 19.9 ppg, he’s 4th in the NBA in rebounds with 11.5 rpg, and he’s 1st among Centers in assists with 3.5 apg, while shooting .555% from the field.
The Knicks are a true inside/outside team, with everyone attacking the rim or putting up 3’s. Against MIL & WAS this week, they attempted an average of 38 shots at the rim connecting on 62%, and they averaged 37 long 2 pointers and 3’s and connected on 42% for a TS% of 54%. While 1/3rd of their shots at the rim are assisted, their ball movement leads to 88% of their 3’s being assisted. They will run, but poor rebounding (10th worst in rpg and 4th worst in rebound differential), and being only average in steals per game, limits their opportunities to get out on the break. What they won’t do is turnover the ball or foul, which helps offset the lack of rebounding to keep possessions even.
I think the Kings can dominate the scoring in the paint if they share the ball. Tyreke and Martin must lead the way by attacking the rim, and dishing off to the bigs when NY doubles. But, that means that the frontcourt needs to cut to the basket when their man leaves to double. Shoot blocking isn’t a strength for the Knicks, with Jefferies leading at 1.1 bpg and Lee averaging only .38 per game. If the Kings can get to the FT line as they did in Toronto and finish at a reasonable rate in the paint, they can be more selective in shooting 3’s. As long as they keep a man on Gallinari and play him tight at the arc, I don’t think the Kings need to worry about NY’s 3pt shooters.
A good way to show HighTops how much you appreciate his excellent scouting reports is to rec the snot out of his Game Keys comment, which should be coming this afternoon.
THE KEY BATTLE
Kevin Martin vs. Wilson Chandler. The last thing Martin needs right now is a good defender lining up across him. Chandler is quick and handsy, two things that bother Martin more than does strength or length. But Martin has played beautifully against New York in the past, so it might be overstated concern on my part. I don't think we'll see 50 from Speed; I'd take 20 on efficient shooting.
David Lee, triple digit rebounds. Impossible is nothing.
Jon Brockman will be inserted into the game solely to deal with David Lee.
4:30 PM tip-off. Game threads at 4:30 and 5:45. Post-game thread at 7:15.