Los Angeles Clippers vs. New York Knicks
7:30 p.m. PST
November 27, 2013
FOX Prime Ticket/NBATV
1. Will the Knicks turn their season around?
Jonathan Topaz, KnickerBlogger, (@JonathanTopaz): Not before Tyson Chandler gets back. The Knicks rank 28th in defensive efficiency, 23rd in offensive efficiency, 29th in rebounding rate, and 25th in assist percentage. They struggle with basic defensive rotations, are shooting nearly five percentage points lower from three than last year, and get to the free throw line at an alarmingly low rate. The coach cannot figure out rotations and how best to use his personnel. The bad start is not a fluke.
Fred Katz, (@FredKatz): When in doubt, be Clintonian: That depends on what the definition of “turning their season around” is. Will the Knicks make the playoffs? Probably, but that’s more of an indictment of the awful Eastern Conference than it is a testament to the Knicks, who currently sit only 2.5 games back of the No. 8 seed with a 3-10 record. Will they get out of the first round? Likely, no.
Michael Shagrin, (@mshaggy): The Knicks cannot come close to looking like a good basketball team until Tyson Chandler comes back, and even then, who knows? But with a marginal increase in quality of play, the Knicks will probably plop into a playoff spot. The Eastern Conference is just that bad.
2. How can the Clippers exploit the Knicks’ struggling defense?
Topaz: How much time do you have? The short answer is pretty much with everything, especially involving Chris Paul — the Knicks have struggled mightily against pick-and-rolls and fast point guards. They are awful in transition defense, so the Clippers, who rank fifth in pace, should be able to run all game. Any Clipper not guarded by Iman Shumpert — particularly Paul and Griffin — should be able to get to and finish at the rim with ease without the threat of an opposing rim protector.
Katz: The Clippers’ strengths match up with the Knicks’ weaknesses in a relatively scary way if you’re a Knicks fan. The perimeter shooting is there to exploit the Knicks’ subpar wing defenders. The dynamic transition offense is there. Meanwhile, the Knicks are not exactly the best transition defense team in the league. And finally, isn’t Andrea Bargnani the No. 1 candidate to get Mozgoved, Perkinsed, or Brandon Knighted by Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan? The Knicks’ best shot is to put Iman Shumpert, who is the type of long defender against which Chris Paul can struggle, on the Clippers’ point guard, but that’s no guarantee considering the odd way Mike Woodson has shuffled Shump around this season.
Shagrin: Let Chris Paul and Blake Griffin distribute. The Knicks have no interested in hard rotations but they also have no interest in getting scored on by superstars. Expect the Knicks to force the ball out of Paul’s and Griffin’s hands, leaving a feast of threes for J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley with some lobbed up desserts for DeAndre Jordan.
3. Who’s the better instant offense scorer: Jamal Crawford or J.R. Smith?
Topaz: Three 50-point games, more than Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, and Oscar Robertson. An NBA-record 38 four-point-plays. Crawford is the only non-superstar in the league whose heat-check alerts require instant League Pass priority. (For the nerdy stuff, he also holds the higher true shooting and three-point percentages last year and so far this year.) And though I may be biased, because he is my favorite player, Crawford also wins style points for being unreasonably smooth and having a far more devastating crossover.
Katz: Last year, I actually thought J.R. Smith was the deserving Sixth Man of the Year, but ever since Smith sustained the Curse of Jason Terry, he hasn’t been the same. His shooting fell of a cliff in the playoffs and it hasn’t gotten better post-knee surgery (shocking, I know). Crawford, meanwhile, is in the midst of his most efficient season ever (57.7 true shooting percentage) and is hitting more than two threes a game in limited minutes. I’m going Crawford.
Shagrin: Jamal Crawford. Seattle breeds scorers. It’s true. You’ve seen Nate Robinson fly down the court. That’s not natural. And also Jamal’s putting in 15 points in 25 minutes per game while J.R. is scoring 12 points in 32 minutes per game. Then there’s this.