Who: New York Knicks vs Charlotte Bobcats
What: NBA Basketball – Knicks Home Game
When: 7:30 PM ET
Where: Live at Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
|New York||1-2||95.0 (24)||116.9 (9)||86.6 (26)|
|Charlotte||1-2||88.4 (29)||121.0 (17)||87.7 (25)|
New York: Amar’e Stoudemire (Probable)
Charlotte: Al Jefferson (OUT)
|PG||Raymond Felton||Kemba Walker|
|SG||Iman Shumpert||Gerald Henderson|
|SF||Carmelo Anthony||Michael Kidd-Gilchrist|
|PF||Andrea Bargnani||Josh McRoberts|
|C||Tyson Chandler||Bismack Biyombo|
|6th Man||Metta World Peace||Ramon Sessions|
1- STATS. Charlotte and New York are both in the top half of the league in defensive efficiency, but bottom-10 in offensive efficiency. Product of a short sample size, or is this something we should come to expect?
Spencer Percy: With Charlotte it’s definitely something we should expect, offensively. Especially is Al Jefferson continues to be sidelined. There’s just nowhere that this team can get consistent offense without the big man inside to draw extra defenders. Defensively, the Bobcats have been impressive – they’ve shown tremendous improvement in guarding the 3-point shot this season, opposed to last. Charlotte is only allowing their opponents to shoot 35.7% from behind the arc through three games – good for 15th in the NBA.
New York will surely improve on the offensive end. Carmelo has really gotten off to a rough start, but the wheels will begin to turn again if he can approach last years production. The Knicks are also only shooting 30.4% from deep and this is somewhere they destroyed opponents from last season.
Kevin Udwary (KnickerBlogger.net): The early season inefficiencies of the Knicks offense is likely to improve soon, due to JR Smith returning from suspension, and Melo finding his shot. JR, in particular will be a boost to the offense, as he will replace Hardaway Jr.’s very inefficient scoring. That being said, the Knicks will be very hard pressed to match last year’s offensive numbers, since they lost their two best 3 point shooters (Novak and Copeland) in the offseason and replaced them with much less efficient players in Bargnani and Metta World Peace. They should end up above average this year, but I’d be surprised if they were a top 10 offense.
As for the defense, all that needs to be said is Tyson Chandler is a beast when he is healthy. Hopefully he stays that way.
Greg Pietras: A bit of both? The Bobcats do seem to have made some strides on defense, particularly Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Bismack Biyombo. The D seems to be rotating better and communicating more often, but they’ve benefited from a soft schedule. Cleveland and New Orleans don’t have the consistent shooters that can really stretch a D, so it’ll be interesting to see how the Bobcats fare against more balanced offenses. As far as the scoring: Al Jefferson will help, but I think we’re still seing something close to what we’re going to get all year.
For the Knicks, they’ll likely bounce back on offense. They’ll look better when their shots start falling — they’re currently making 30 percent from long range after hitting 38 percent last year. Not enough changed in the offseason to account for that kind of drop-off.
2- ‘MELO. Through three games, he’s averaging 21 points and shooting just 37.7% from the floor. What’s been the issue up to this point and will MKG add to Carmelo’s early season struggles tonight?
Spencer: He hasn’t been himself, that’s for sure. To tack onto the putrid shooting numbers, consider that ‘Melo is only firing 26.7% from long range. Oh, and he’s turning the ball over 4 times/game. That betters his 3.3 APG. Hasn’t been the best of starts, but expect that to change starting tonight.
Kevin: Last year in the playoffs Kevin Garnett attempted to rip off Melo’s left arm to take home as a consolation prize. That resulted in a torn labrum that Melo decided to rehab without surgery this summer. Maybe that’s still bothering him a bit, or that he’s just rusty from an offseason spent in rehab. Or maybe it’s just 3 games and we shouldn’t take anything away from such a small sample size. Melo has stepped up the rest of his game, however, such as pulling down 17 rebounds against the T’wolves on Sunday. MKG is a great defender and I have a ton of respect for the guy, but Melo may be too big and strong if he concentrates on playing in the low block. Melo will get his, even if it isn’t the most efficient night for him.
Greg: Part of that is just sample size; the Bulls’ defense can deflate anyone’s numbers, and the Timberwolves have looked surprisingly solid on that end of the floor so far.
I think MKG will do well, but Anthony will still end up with enough clean looks to have good game. I’ve been impressed with MKG’s defense so far; he’s very active and rarely caught out of position. Melo will be his first real test of the season, though, so it should be a fun matchup.
3- PICK IT. Bobcats have already experienced winning this season. Well, preseason. Who gets back to .500?
Spencer: Not the Bobcats. This game feels like just what the doctor ordered after the Knicks sluggish start. Al Jefferson being out 3 of Charlotte’s first 4 games is worrisome. Let’s hope the team is only being overly careful with the situation.
Kevin: The Knicks have a problem turning over the ball, while Charlotte is very good at not turning over the ball. That will keep this game close. I still think the Knicks pull out the win at The Garden, but I’d put money on Charlotte winning at home on Friday.
Greg: Knicks. The Bobcats have not been a very good road team recently, and New York is probably desperate to pick up a cheap win and right their ship. I do hope Kemba puts on a show for his hometown crowd, though.