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Bobcats vs Knicks Preview: 3-on-3 with Knickerblogger

Who: Charlotte Bobcats vs New York Knicks

What: NBA Basketball – Bobcats Home Game

When: 7 PM ET

Where: Live at Time Warner Cable Arena

The Matchup:

Record Offensive
Charlotte 7-9 97.5 (27) 103.7 (22) 95.7 (7)
New York 12-4 111.3 (1) 100.7 (10) 92.6 (28)

Previous Meetings:

Charlotte: Tyrus Thomas (OUT)
New York: Marcus Camby (OUT)

Starting Lineups

Bobcats Knicks
PG Kemba Walker Raymond Felton
SG Ramon Sessions J.R. Smith
SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Ronnie Brewer
PF Byron Mullens Carmelo Anthony
C Brendan Haywood Tyson Chandler
6th Man Jeffery Taylor Ronnie Brewer

3-on-3 TrueHoop Network 1- STATS: 16 games into the season, the Knicks have the most efficient offense in the NBA with a rating of 111.3. The Bobcats have slowly regressed on the defensive end lately, and the 4th quarter against Portland on Monday night was proof of that. New York spaces the floor better and with more shooting threats than anyone else in the league, while the Bobcats like to over help on the defensive end more than any other team. Does Charlotte stick with their defensive strategy, or loosen up the core on the defensive end and stay with shooters more often?

Brett: I expect the Bobcats to stick with their strategy of overloading the strong side, and conceding three pointers.  They allow their opponents to shoot the second most threes per game in the league (and the Knicks lead the league in taking them), so the Knicks will get their chances.  What it will come down to is if the Bobcats rotate and recover well – if they do, they can hold the Knicks to a more average shooting percentage from outside (which is what the Bobcats have averaged allowing), but if they don’t, this could get ugly as the Knicks have been one of the best in the league at converting from deep, not just taking tons, but making them too.

Mathew: What do I think they do? Stick with their current defensive strategy. What do I think they should do? Stay with the Knicks shooters more often. I believe in the strategy of altering your defensive scheme based on the type of team you’re playing each night (much like Bill Belichick does with the Patriots), though I know many other coaches favor a core defensive scheme or identity. At this point it appears Dunlap sides with the latter.

Jim Cavan (Knickerblogger.net): The problem with loosening up on help when facing the Knicks is you’re giving allowing Melo – on a career tear of late – way too much freedom to operate, and the Bobcats don’t have anyone who can reasonably be expected to shut him down. That said, the Knicks have died by unkind iron numerous times. If the ‘Cats can turn some early cold shooting from New York into easy transition buckets, it could make life difficult for Woodson’s banged up squad – particularly if Felton’s hand renders him ineffective and we’re forced to rely on a heavy dose of Pablo Prigioni and a back spasming Jason Kidd.

2- MELO: Carmelo Anthony ranks second in the league in scoring at 26.6 PPG. How should the Bobcats defend him tonight, and are there any defensive folds Dunlap can throw at Anthony to get him on his heels early?

Brett: Melo is off to a hot start this year from three, shooting a career best 43.5% from deep (career average:  32.8%).  The Bobcats need to force him to catch the ball on the perimeter, and then let MKG and Jeff Taylor take turns guarding him one on one.  Neither would do well at this point guarding him in the post, so limiting those opportunities will be a must.  A double team on Anthony will be an open 3 for someone else (or a dunk for Tyson Chandler).  The one positive about the Melo matchup – the Knicks have been using him at the 4 some this year, and that would allow the Bobcats to go with one of their preferred for offense lineup of 3 guards, MKG/Taylor at the 4, and Bismack/Byron/Brendan in the middle.

Mathew: With MKG & Taylor, exclusively. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeff Taylor are the only two players on the Bobcats roster who I believe even remotely have a chance of slowing down Carmelo tonight. Given Carmelo’s proliferation of touches in the post this year, the two will  need to be willing to play physical with him. I would take holding Carmelo to less than 40% shooting and under 25 points in exchange for either/both fouling out given the majority of their value to the team is currently on the defensive end.

Jim: If I’m Dunlap, I think about throwing MKG on Melo for extended stretches. It would be a trial by fire, for sure. But assuming Kurt Thomas’ honorary four-minute start holds true and Anthony spends the bulk of the game at the four, keep in mind that Kidd-Gilchrist’s defensive production against power forwards has by all accounts been stouter than when he’s matched up on threes – he’s allowing a measly 9.5 PER from power forwards, compared to 19.0 from small forwards. Positional semantics aside, MKG has the kind of recovery quickness that could give Melo problems, so long as the latter doesn’t settle into a bully-ball routine that gets the rook into foul trouble and lets Anthony earn a living at the line.

3- PICK IT: Charlotte stumbles into this game on a four game losing streak and New York comes into TWC Arena on a three game winning streak. Anyone see this as a trap game for the Knicks, or are the Bobcats on their way to their fifth straight loss?

Brett: I’m taking the Knicks.  In addition to their strength at the Bobcats area of concession (threes), they’re also great at protecting the ball, with the lowest turnover rate in the league.  New York is going to score points, and with Tyson Chandler protecting the paint, the Bobcats will struggle to score at the other end, since so much of the offense is attack, attack, attack the rim.  The losing streak continues (but they still have as many wins as last year, already).

Mathew: Bobcats. This is another character-tester for the team after coming off the heartbreaking loss to Portland the other night. The crowd will be large and into the game (regardless of whether some of the fans are rooting for the Knicks) which should aid in their efforts. This is more of a feel pick than a numbers one (which is against my usual tendency), but I’m sticking with it.

Jim: In years past this would absolutely qualify as a classic Knicks stumbling block, along with Sunday matinees, tilts on Martin Luther King Day, games when I have company over and I have to act civilized and not yell at the television, and generally any contest involving some combination of a Knicks winning streak and a sub-.500 opponent. With Felton and Kidd’s productive prospects tempered by injury and a big game in South Beach on the slate for Thursday, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if the ‘Cats pulled it out. Credit Dunlap for bringing ears and hearts to his corner and turning Charlotte from sadsack tragedy into a promising young team no one can afford to take lightly. Hopefully the Knicks won’t. Knicks 101-94.