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Game 23 – Game Day: Utah Jazz (13-9) @ New York Knicks (9-15)

Who can’t get excited for Madison Square Gardens? The Utah Jazz may be a candidate, they have gone just 4-6 vs. the New York Knicks at MSG in their last 10 games there. Worse still, the Jazz are currently on a 1-6 slide right now in recent history. They’ll be catching the team from New Amsterdam without a few of their guys: no Baron Davis, no Amar’e Stoudemire. If that wasn’t enough, the Knicks will be starting Jeremy Lin – who despite having an amazing game last time out, has still only played in 39 NBA games. Those are some breaks the Jazz are catching. Will they make the most of it, or will New Yorks "simplified" offense for this game be too much? I am, of course, talking about how Carmelo Anthony will most likely take more than his season average of 20 FGA in this game. Jazz at Knicks . . . no longer featuring Par Riley vs. Jerry Sloan.



What’s Going on With the Knicks?

Probably the first thing you have to mention is that the Knicks are 9-15, and I think many observers would look at their roster and have expected them to be above .500, and not winning less than 40% of their games. They’ve had a rough start, but I think injuries have played a huge part in that. They haven’t had a lot of practices or days off this season, and they did had quite a few new players to the team from last year. The Knicks have a lot of great parts, but they still aren’t all there yet so far this season. I’m going to stop making excuses for the Knicks (I have a soft spot in my heart for them – after all, Knick fan’s lives would have been vastly improved if Michael Jordan didn’t exist, not just Jazz fan’s lives.) and talk about the team now.

Mike D’Antoni plays at a high pace, and the Knicks this season are second to only one in terms of pace: they’re at 93.6. That’s super fast, especially compared to the Jazz who play at the 19th fastest pace in the league (90.9). I guess one reason is that D’Antoni doesn’t have slow guys like Al Jefferson and Enes Kanter to play with, and Tyrone Corbin does. The Knicks play at a high pace, but aren’t exactly a killer offensive club this season. A big part of that is that their starting PGs this year have been worse than ours. What the Knicks have is a Top 10 Defense in terms of defensive rating. They cause the second most turn overs. They also foul the second most in the league. They are, surprisingly, a very rough grind-y team, despite the fast pace.

They are still a Mike D’Antoni team and are #3 in most three point attempts this season. They aren’t killing it on threes though, they rank #26 in 3pt%. So, yeah, keep shooting ‘em, I say. They shoot 3% better than we do from deep, but they’ve taken +252 more long balls than we have. Carmelo, Landry Fields, Iman Shumpert, Toney Douglass, and Jeremy Lin, combined, have gone 86 – 317 from downtown this year. That’s only 27.13 3pt%. That’s worse than the Jazz. Just those five guys take (adding up their averages) 14.5 threes a game. As a team the Jazz take only 13.0 threes a game. If you add in the guys on the Knicks who can actually shoot and make from distance you get a tale that’s going to be told from 23’ away. That and Camelo isolations.

But don’t take it from me, after the jump we see what Seth (@Seth_Rosenthal ) from Posting and Toasting, the SBN Knicks blog, has to say about his team; while I take a look at our Jazz.

What’s Going on With the Knicks? (Continued)

Here’s what Seth had to say:

"The Knicks are mired in turmoil, but got a glimmer of hope over the weekend. New York comes into Monday's game having lost ten of their last thirteen games. The team's been beset by injuries and hampered most severely by the absence of the newly-signed Baron Davis. With no starting-caliber point guard to replace him, New York's offense has been a bit of a wreck. The ball movement and shooting have been unsightly as ever, and Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler have meshed only in stretches without a reliable ball-handler to direct the flow.

"The glimmer of hope in all that came in the form of Jeremy Lin's dazzling performance against the Nets on Saturday. The kid can't be expected to provide 25 points, 7 assists, and lockdown defense every night, but his showing in that game suggested that he's a better point guard than any other healthy player on the team. He'll start against the Jazz, and if he continues to score well and create opportunities for his teammates, he'll probably keep the spot.

"Meanwhile, Jared Jeffries (who also played great against the Nets) will also start in place of Amar'e Stoudemire, who is rushing to Florida to be with his family after the tragic death of his brother this morning." – Seth R. (@Seth_Rosenthal)

Thanks a lot Seth, and please Jazz fans take a gander at the SBN Knicks blog – those are some passionate fans!



What’s Going on With the Jazz?

This is what I wrote back to Seth:

"The Utah Jazz are having a strangely positive season (better winning % than the Portland Trail Blazers, LA Lakers, Dallas Mavericks); however, as a close observer I’m hesitant to go into full ‘homer’ mode just yet. Utah, just last week, lost a close game at home to the LA Clippers, got destroyed by the Golden State Warriors on the road, and came home and beat the LA Lakers. It’s an up and down season for this team bereft of star power. Yes, Utah is way better at home than on the road (what young team isn’t?) – but the formula exists on how to stop the Jazz: double Paul Millsap, double Al Jefferson, and make the other guys on the floor beat you with a jumper. The teams that do this almost always get the W on the Jazz.

"The Jazz point guards are all kinds of banged up right now – having to rely on Jamaal Tinsley a few games ago. Our wings are to unreliability as Boston sports fans are to being obnoxious. No matter what the score, they are both going to stick to their guns and make you hate them. The saving grace is that the Jazz are recently getting solid contributions from our quartet of Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors, and Enes Kanter. Jerry Sloan may be gone, but we’re still using his "never ever take a three pointer" playbook. Somehow we have 13 wins this season." - me

I am honestly surprised by the Jazz this year, in a good way. I’m happy with the progress we’ve shown, most particularly with our interior defense. We still can’t stop penetration – but at least we’re making life hard for opposing bigs. The Jump-shooting attack we’re going to see tonight is sadly something our bigs can’t help out with. On their side, Tyson Chandler will cause us some trouble with his length and offensive rebounding prowess.



Previous Meetings:

This is the first game between these two teams this season. We kinda have a lot of data on Melo at this point, so we should have him scouted well enough.

Buckle up.



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