HOOPSWORLD Week In Review
What The Knicks Need Down The Stretch
By Tommy Beer
We probably use the cliché “rollercoaster season” too often, but how else would one describe this frenzied, unpredictable, hectic and entertaining 2011-2012 Knicks campaign? There have been a number of noteworthy highs, along with quite a few ludicrous low points. Simply stated, there will never be another season in franchise history quite like this one.
Yet, through all through all the peaks and valleys, the Knicks find themselves two games above .500. With just 18 days and 10 games remaining on the schedule, New York controls their own destiny in the race for a postseason berth. The Knicks have to endure a brutal stretch over the next week, when they take on all three division leaders in their conference (the Bulls, the Celtics, and the HEAT) within a seven-day span, with a crucial showdown against Milwaukee thrown in for good measure. The good news is that four of their final five games of the season are at home, and three of those five are against the three Eastern Conference bottom-feeders (Nets, Cavs, and Bobcats). If New York sneaks into the playoffs, they’ll then have the opportunity to win the franchise’s first playoff game since April 29th, 2001. Yes folks, it’s been 11 long years since the Knicks won a non-regular season game.
With that as the backdrop, today we’ll take a look at each individual player on the Knicks roster and attempt to determine what each player needs to bring to the table in order for this secure a spot in the postseason tournament and extend this wild ride into March…
Coach: Bull-ish On The Offensive Glass
By Anthony Macri
One of the keys for the Chicago Bulls this year has been their dominance on the offensive glass. Quite simply, their combination of personnel and emphasis has taken the league by storm. The Bulls lead the NBA by a reasonably wide margin – the next closest team in total offensive rebounds going into last night’s games was the Sacramento Kings, a team that had played one more game than the Bulls, and their average was also second best, but a full half rebound per game behind.
The ability to lengthen a possession through offensive rebounding is critical for a number of reasons. Chief among these are the way it can mask inefficiencies on the offensive end. Since a possession does not end until there is either a made field goal, turnover or a defensive rebound, cleaning the o-glass allows Chicago be successful on a higher percentage of their possessions.
Chicago’s commitment to the offensive glass as a central facet of their overall attack plan is a function of their personnel but also indicates some subtle skill-teaching and reveals a few key points of emphasis for any team that wants to get after boards the way they do.
Where Do The Bobcats Go From Here?
By Derek Page
After narrowly missing the playoffs just a season ago, the Charlotte Bobcats find themselves with the worst record in the NBA at 7-50 (.123 winning percentage) with nine games left in the 2011-2012 season. Charlotte has lost 14 straight games and could challenge the 1973 Philadelphia 76ers at 9-73 for the worst winning percentage for a season in NBA history (.11).
While finishing the season at the bottom of the NBA standings is not something any NBA player or team looks forward to, there are perks for the team that hits that porous mark.
With the record they have, the hope is Charlotte can luck out and win the Anthony Davis sweepstakes. Davis is the jewel of the 2012 draft and he would immediately legitimize the Bobcats.
The 6-foot-10 phenom out of Kentucky could end up being the superstar-caliber player this team has been yearning for since coming into the league as an expansion team in 2004. Finishing with the NBA’s worst record assures the Bobcats of a 25 percent chance of landing Davis with the number one overall pick.
If The NBA Playoffs Started Today…
By Mark Nugent
The NBA season is starting to wind down and with only two weeks left in the regular season, the playoff picture is starting to take shape in both conferences. While some spots have yet to be decided, now is a good time to break down the potential first round match-ups.
#1-Chicago Bulls vs. #8-New York Knicks
There has been a lot of excitement over the new look Knicks since Mike Woodson took over as head coach a few weeks ago. They have been playing better defense, Carmelo Anthony looks to have regained his shooting touch and Madison Square Garden has been rocking. However, the Bulls still have the best record in the league, allow the second-fewest points in the NBA and have the league’s reigning Most Valuable Player and Coach of the Year.
This won’t be a pushover for the Bulls, but if they’ve proven one thing this season, it’s that they’re resilient. When Derrick Rose has been injured, they still find a way to win. When newly acquired Richard Hamilton was sidelined, the Bulls still managed to win. This is a team that can adapt to anything that’s thrown at them and that should benefit them come playoff time.
Spurs Receive A Sign Of What’s To Come?
By Yannis Koutroupis
The win was practically penciled in for the San Antonio Spurs, who are in the midst of a tight race with the Chicago Bulls, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Miami HEAT for homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs. The Los Angeles Lakers were without Kobe Bryant, the league’s leading scorer who is dealing with an injured left shin. The big three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili was well rested after getting Monday night off against the Utah Jazz. Everyone in the AT&T Center expected the Spurs to cruise to an easy victory, which would have been their 12th in 13 attempts.
They cruised alright, but far too much.
The Lakers pounded it inside to their big men Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, aggressively crashed the glass, and made 11-23 from distance in a one-sided 98-84 road upset of the Spurs.
“The Lakers played great and they beat us to death,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said to HOOPSWORLD. “There’s nothing else you can say about it. They deserve credit for playing so well. A lot of guys shot it well. They rebounded well and were physical. They beat us in every facet of the game. It was a really poor performance execution wise and competitiveness wise. There’s nothing else to say.”
Top Six NBA Postseason Assassins
By Derek Page
When the calendar turns to May and June, these are six NBA players you don’t want to go against come playoff time.
In compiling this list, I had a few omissions that I already know are going to raise some eyebrows so let me explain:
There are some players in the NBA who are still getting started making their mark in the postseason (Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant among others) who didn’t make the cut. While others, who used to abuse opponents in their prime (Tim Duncan, Jason Kidd and Kevin Garnett to name a few) can still occasionally push their teams but aren’t as dominant as they used to be.
This list is compiled of six players (in no particular order) who are not only some of the best playoff performers of all time but still have the ability to take control of any given game or, in some cases, any series this postseason.