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Xs and Os

There are keys to the series then there are the guys who, should they perform, make it hard for teams to overcome. Obviously, in the case of a Mario Chalmers or James Jones, should both of them pull their best Vashon Leonard or Anthony "off the top of the backboard" Carter, then the heat will have a distinct advantage. Jones has had an off season, while Chalmers has been outstanding from deep making 101 triples this season. Between Jones, Shane Battier, Chalmers and Mike Miller the heat have made 262 threes this season spreading the floor for the Big 3. ?Their .359% is 9th in the league mainly because Wade and James aren't great from deep.

I can also see Battier making one or a few killer corner 3s during the series that will make me want to throw my TV out the window.

Tags: Xs and Os
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We were talking about this yesterday in the office. Amar'e was the Amar'e from Game 1 Boston last year. He had great spring and was making most of his jumpers with ease.

Melo was always featured on the perimeter and on the high post, but I totally agree with Taylor here. He may be the best post player in the league right now. I'd rather him post up on the block early in the game then open it up and post mid-post and on the elbow. Posting him closer to the rim off the bat puts tremendous pressure on defenders and will lead to more double teams early. That's when guys have to be ready to knock down shots.

Tags: Carmelo Anthony, Xs and Os
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When you go to basketball-reference, as impressive as the Miami heat have been defensively, they are currently the first overall in offensive rating. ?When you look closer, it's easy to see why.

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/#!/mySynergySports/status/173602123957809152"]

Uncontested catch and shoot situations result in transition as well as passes thrown to open players out of double teams. Double teams are forced when a player is usually isolated causing the defense to react to a player losing a one-on-one matchup.

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[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/#!/mySynergySports/status/162195687776333824"]

This, to me, is incredibly misleading because the Knicks NEVER post Chandler up. All of his points come on putbacks, dunks and tip ins. Remember when Chandler played with Paul they would oop it up all day long.?Forget Paul for a second. Remember the forwards on that Hornets team that won 56 games? Peja and David West. Two players who stretched the defense. One from the perimeter and one from mid-range. The Knicks lack consistency from both spots.

Yes, that's a reason why the Knicks are struggling, the said lack of a PG like Paul, ?but neither Chandler nor Amar'e are post up players and right now neither are making consistent 10-15 foot jumpers. It's why they struggle on the court together. The 4 and 5 combination is a huge part of any offense. Combine that with horrid 3-point shooting and Melo's struggles and you have a team that can barely get 80 points.

Tags: Tyson Chandler Knicks, Xs and Os
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Fine analysis by Zach Lowe of SI talking about how the Knicks handle screens. Anyone who has ever read this blog knows that this makes me sick as it relates to how the Knicks defend screens. They've been better on the ball but switching on screens shows absolutely no effort. See Douglas above. He stays home and Stoudemire is floating around for no reason. That takes communication. Stat has to hedge and recover, let Douglas through to stay with his man or switch completely.

This is something I also would have thought would have been addressed with a defensive coordinator and?has always been an issue under Mike D'Antoni. It needs to change.

Tags: Xs and Os
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What Knicks fans have seen over the past few years during the Mike D'Antoni era has been a speedball type system resulting in a lot of points...on both ends of the court.

The beauty of D'Antoni's offensive system, to me, is twofold. First, is the ability to get easy baskets in transition through the use of pick and roll. ?Watch at 2:00 when Melo has the ball in transition there is a slip screen by Jeffries that frees Melo and forces the defender to decide stop ball or give up an easy shot.

Tags: TKB.tv, Xs and Os
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Via Tommy Beer
Dalembert isn?t a guy looking to mix it up inside or intimidate in the paint.? He?s far too comfortable floating around the perimeter, settling for long jumpers.? Take a look at these stats: Per Hoopdata.com, last season Dalembert attempted just 2.9 shots ?at the rim? per game. In contrast, he averaged 2.7 field-goal attempts from 10-23 feet away from the basket. Not exactly the shot selection you prefer from a seven-footer. Also, consider this: The Philadelphia 76ers won 27 games in 2009-2010 with Dalembert as their starting center.? After trading him in the summer of 2010, Philly won 41 games without him in 2010-2011.

Again, Dalembert would clearly be an upgrade for New York next season, but offering him a long-term contract would be a short-sighted and regrettable decision.? If he wants to settle for a one-year deal (he won?t), then by all means, bring him in.? But that?s not going to happen, so the Knicks will likely have to keep searching.

Some other (less appealing?) free-agent centers that will be on the Knicks radar this month include: Spencer Hawes (restricted), Jeff Foster, Kwame Brown, Joel Przybilla, Erick Dampier, Nazr Mohammed, Kurt Thomas, Aaron Gray, Ryan Hollins and Jason Collins.

Tags: Samuel Dalembert and the Knicks, Xs and Os
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So the other day I was talking to someone who had a conversation with someone inside the Knicks basketball ops department and I heard some pretty interesting stuff.

First off, I was wrong about the idea that Iman Shumpert, who shares an agent with Amar'e Stoudemire, was taken in part to appease Happy Walters. The fact is multiple sources have told me that Shumpert's workout were off the charts and that Donnie Walsh had Shumpert in his top 5 OVERALL in terms of athleticism and overall ability. Chris Singleton was the other choice to consider, but head coach Mike D'Antoni simply wanted "an athlete" and Shumpert is certainly that. As it relates to the team's 2nd pick, Jorts Harrelson, I was told that there was contention in the draft room as some did not feel that he is an NBA quality player but those people were "out voted" by those who think that Harrelson will strike fans as a "retro 1990s" Knick for his defense and hustle. I'm not a believer that Harrelson will contribute in his first year.

Back to Shumpert, you'd think that D'Antoni believes he can make the rookie into a playmaker with the basketball. But his key role, to me, is defending the basketball. You've read constantly here about my feeling on the significance of guarding the basketball, especially in the pick and roll. NBA Playbook did a great job in breaking down how certain elite guards in the NBA are defended and I've always agreed.

Tags: TKB.tv, Xs and Os
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No, it's not the NBA, but it is NY basketball and the pressing style was one that Coach Pitino's Bomb Squad utilized to play an exciting brand of ball at MSG in the late 80s. Plus if it's made with Xs and Os count me in.

Tags: TKB.tv, Xs and Os
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Since Offensive Coordinator Kevin Gilbride seems to still have the same play sheet from 1991, I will put together the projected game plan for the NY Giants from here on out. Make sure you check back every week for my opinion on what the G-men should do on offense against their opponent.

Warning: My game plan will be progressive and daring! The complete opposite of the usual Giants' game plan.

Tags: 2011 New York Giants, giants, New York Giants, New York Giants Offense, NFL, X's and O's
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Via Mike Lupica
Finally the coach of the Knicks asked a question that all Knick fans are asking themselves today:

"How do you close out a game against a great team?"

Everybody in the place knew he meant a playoff game. Knick fans are long past caring that Stoudemire almost made a shot to beat the Celtics in New York in December.

Tags: Xs and Os
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James Hauser is a friend who played his high school ball at Archbishop Molloy under Coach Curran. He now coaches up in the Boston area. He sent me this hyper-analysis that he's learned over the years and used it for last night's game. I'm hoping he will continue do these for each game...

"Execution in the fourth quarter was the difference in yesterday's Game 1 matchup between the New York Knicks and the Boston Celtics.? What you will read here is a different kind of summary.? I will take you through the fourth quarter of the game possession by possession.? The data for this summary is not recorded from watching film.? The data is recorded via a shorthand technique which records every pass, dribble, shot, rebound, foul - mostly everything that happens with the ball.? This shorthand produces a score sheet which is essentially a play-by-play transcript of the game.? It is extremely time consuming, but as a dedicated basketball coach and student of the game it has taught me critical thinking skills that allow me to analyze the ebb and flow of any game at any level, and more importantly which players are producing at the most important moments of the game.? You will not be reading the shorthand, but rather its translation into terms everyone can understand.?

As you go through this summary you should know there were 96 possessions in the first half and 98 possessions in the second half - for a total of 194 possessions in the entire game.? I would bet that the average basketball fan would not know there are this many possessions in a game. ?In the fourth quarter there were 47 total possessions.? The Celtics had 25 possessions and the Knicks had 22.? When a team grabs an offensive rebound or when the ball is knocked out of bounds it is recorded that a new possession begins.? The Celtics +3 margin in possessions will become evident when you see their pursuit of offensive rebounds and the Knicks continuous failure to complete the defensive possession with a block out and rebound.? We start at #50 which is the fiftieth play of the second half, THE FIRST PLAY OF THE FOURTH QUARTER.

Tags: 2011 Playoffs, Xs and Os
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via NBA Playbook

Officiating aside Rivers clearly out managed D'Antoni down the stretch, which was expected. I felt like D'Antoni managed the time outs well, stifling Celtics momentum throughout the game. But you obviously have to have one saved for the last possession. I thought the defensive effort for the Knicks was absolutely tremendous all game, except for several key situations that the Celtics exploited.

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With the Final Four now set, it's time to look at all the prospects who have truly opened some eyes from a scouting perspective and some of those who could probably use more seasoning. While there are still several months before the draft, in addition to several key camps and pre-draft workouts, scouts were paying particular attention to players' performances during the pressure cooker that is March Madness.

Read my scouting take on Hoopsworld...

Tags: Xs and Os
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As we said, the Knicks automatically switch on seemingly every pick and roll. Here is an example of a high-octane team, the Mavericks, buckling down defensively against the Suns.

Via NBA Playbook

Tags: video, Xs and Os
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As always the great NBA Playbook was spot on catching this play during last night's key home victory. While Melo does get "sucked into the paint" leaving his man wide open in the corner (TKB favorite Ryan Anderson) he had the right idea. The Knicks are a terrible transition defensive team and here's why. Again, the switch on every screen. Screens in transition are effective, but notice the Knicks did do a great job of getting back on this possession and Billups did a pretty good job of stopping the ball at the elbow. Then he and Douglas switched. Stoudemire, who took the shot on the offensive end, sprinted back to the paint and was there to hedge on the ball screen set by Bass. Douglas should have stayed on Turkoglu and everyone else should have stayed with their men in help position one pass away. Because Amar'e switched out, all hell broke loose and the Knicks had to help off the dribble.

Turkoglu missed Anderson wide open in the corner, which is generally always open because the Knicks, in this case, don't consider it one pass away because it's deep on the weak side and the ball is attacking the basket on the strong side. But the idea, especially with new players defensively, is that if you switch that much it takes immense communication, which takes time to develop as a team.

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Via Brendan Brown
Magic: Good shooting percentages throughout the game -- 48.7 percent from field, 48.0 percent from three-point range and 89.3 percent from the line.. 12 offensive rebounds, led by Dwight Howard?s four... 14 turnovers, led by Howard?s five... Brandon Bass had 15 points?and seven rebounds, including 9-of-9 from the line??Hedo Turkoglu had 16 points and 11 rebounds, as well as four assists ? Howard had?33 points and 11 rebounds, along with three blocks -- 11-of-15 shooting?and 11-of-13 from line? Jameer Nelson scored 19 points, including 4-of-6 from downtown? 95 points from starters.

Knicks: Only shot 40.5% from the field?impressive 12-of-28 (42.9%) from three?11 offensive rebounds, led by Amar'e Stoudemire's?four? Carmelo Anthony had?24 points?and?nine assists; shot 10-of-11 from the line? Stoudemire struggled with 6-of-20 shooting? Knicks? starting guards combined for 7-for-19 shooting? Toney Douglas scored 17 points off the bench. More.

Obviously, near 50% from both the behind the arc and the field is a terrible recipe. Sounds like Nelson may be out, but will have more as the game approaches. Can the Knicks make the proper adjustments to get a critical home victory?
Tags: Xs and Os
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Via Alan Hahn
D'Antoni has all but scrapped the thing that got him the job in New York: the high-scoring offensive system that star players are supposed to love. The pick-and-roll is almost nonexistent. Even when it is run, the play generally is just a means of creating movement more than an open shot. "Seven Seconds or Less'' officially has declined into "Several Seconds of Mess.''

But there is confidence among the team that offense won't be an issue. D'Antoni is working directly with Billups on that end and also is taking input from Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire.

Perhaps too much input. There comes a point when you have to set a standard and demand execution.

Obviously, there should be a balance on both parties, but Hahn makes a great point that D'Antoni should at least stay true to what got him here. I don't agree in the sense that an offensive innovator should be able to make the talent work and he should lean on his point guard to dictate tempo and offensive sets. That said, it makes for a tough situation when the coach is appeasing his players instead of leading them his way.
Tags: Xs and Os
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No, I don't mean posting blog posts several times.

Does anyone ever remember Al Buckets posting up at the elbow? This is what we mean when we say Melo is the best mid-post and mid-range player in the game. Here, Carmelo probably decides to hang onto the ball much longer, but Melo does do a great job of passing out of a double. If he does, D'Antoni would love for him to spread to the corner, if he doesn't get the ball back, like Harrington does below.

There is a craft to the mid range game, especially the post. It causes doubles, yet the idea has been one? that the Knicks have had a hard time fitting in with the idea of space. But it does have plenty to do with a quick decision and ball movement. The key to the play? Nene, who seals his man opposite block. Can Amar'e do that, or do they need a real center? If so, where does Amar'e go? I think Amar'e can be the player to seal opposing bigs. He needs to improve his post offense.

Tags: video, Xs and Os
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Via Brendan Brown
Keys to Beating the Magic

1) Get back: The new-look Magic throws long sideline passes.

2) Run with Howard: He is most dangerous sealing in early postups.

Tags: Xs and Os
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We talked about the Knicks poor execution in the 4th leading to Celtics transition, a big part of their 33 4th quarter points that led to another crushing Knicks defeat.

Chauncey Billups played very poorly for most of the game, but managed 3-4 from the field in the 4th. It was the combination of Paul Pierce's shot making verses the combination of Stoudemire and Melo simply disappearing when it mattered.

They did a great job of blending in the second and third quarter, after Stoudemire carried the team early in the half as Melo sat with foul trouble. But in the fourth, when it mattered, they couldn't blend as part of continuity offense. Melo is a catch and hold player more comfortable in the end of the shotclock. Billups doesn't feel comfortable in the pick and roll. When the Knicks run their "triangle" or have Billups making shots, Amar'e at the foul line to top of key, and Melo on the mid post or block, they are difficult to guard. Melo got his 3 4th quarter looks a bit too far from his comfort area. The possessions go deeper in the shot clock, which is the opposite of what Mike D'Antoni's system thrives on. Early pressure on the defense before they are set.

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NBA Playbook breaks down each of the 11 transition points in the 4th quarter. The conclusion to most of them...poor effort.

This is a combination of terrible transition defense and awesome transition offense. Allen runs to the corner forcing Fields to make the decision on who he has to cover. If he stops ball early, he leaves Allen wide open. Either way, someone has to show on Pierce MUCH earlier to attempt to stop his dribble. More.

Tags: video, Xs and Os
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Via Brendan Brown
? In the halfcourt, they defend with a ton of energy and aggressiveness. They are solid positional team and pride themselves at being in the right spot at all times.

? They are not a great shotblocking team, especially with the departure of Kendrick Perkins. They contest inside shots well and look to take charges -- see Big Baby.

? Their post defenders do an excellent showing in P&R actions on the side and at the elbow. They mix up coverages at the top. Rotations come quick behind shows.

The Knicks, right now, are not priding themselves on being in the right spots at all times. What that means is angles on help, but the Celtics do an even better job of working hard to not need it.
Tags: Xs and Os
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Via Yahoo Associated Content
Call me old fashioned. Tell me the game has passed me by. Up tempo, high scoring offenses are the wave of the future. The game has evolved. Well, let me ask you this: has the math involved in win - loss records changed? The 2010-2011 Knicks are currently sporting a .522 winning percentage at 35-32. That record is amazingly consistent with the .515 winning percentage that their 17 - 16 record in games where both teams score at least 100 points has earned them. Though, overall, when the Knicks themselves score at least 100 points, they are 29 - 16 for a .644 winning percentage, their greatest successes come on nights of defensive triumph. When the Knicks hold their opponents under 100 points, they have an astounding winning percentage of .900 and an 18 - 2 record. In games where their opponents score over 100 points, however, they are only 17 - 30 for a .361 winning percentage.
When the Knicks score over 100 their offense is clicking and they are getting several offensive contributions from their bench. When they aren't getting that, they struggle to score 100 and slow the pace down. The games that I see them lose is when they have little issue scoring, but they can't stop average teams. It's almost like they are treating them like scrimmages in trying to work the kinks out. Yes, this is still very much training camp for the new players in the new system and you fully expect talent to get on the same page and have confidence in the playoffs, but the team still should be able to figure out that it can play, and win, at different speeds.

They already proved it in Miami.

Tags: Xs and Os
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Starting at minute 1:40 in the video above you will see a microcosm of the Knicks issues on defense. I thought Amar'e was poor at guarding the pick and roll, as Alan Hahn pointed out recently, and upon further review last night it exposed itself as THE reason the Knicks have difficulty getting stops down the stretch. Same thing against the Pacers.

Tags: video, Xs and Os
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Another leery game for Knicks fans as the Knicks battle the Pistons tonight. Detroit has been as big of a mess this season as has any team, so this is a critical one for the Knicks. Brendan Brown has the scouting report.
? They like to add window-dressing to a lot of their pick-and-roll actions. They run more side pick-and-roll looks than the NBA norm. Ben Gordon and Prince handle often in pick-and-roll actions.

* The Pistons have some odd offensive stats. They have six guys shooting under 45 percent from two-point range, but six guys shooting over 35 percent from three-point range. They are also poor from the free-throw line.

How quickly the Pistons have gone downhill. The days of Billups/Wallace and Hamilton are over. Check out Hoopsworld's 5 suggestions on how to fix them.
Tags: Xs and Os
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I often get asked why Toney Douglas comes into games and immediately chucks up a three. Well, to me, it's obvious that occurs when a defender guys under the screen in a pick and roll. Douglas took advantage of that early, then got more confidence as the night went on, hitting an array of step back an off dribble action 3s...all in all an all-time shooting night for TD.

Tags: video, Xs and Os
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While it's great that the Knicks have the offensive firepower to challenge any top 4 seed in the first round of the playoffs, fans (and Carmelo) want to see a simple and basic defensive scheme. Well, they need to look no further than what the heat are doing in South Beach. The good news? It has less to do with defensive IQ and much more to do with athleticism, length and energy, particularly with their struggles with the pick and roll.

Here's what I mean.

Via NBA Playbook

Tags: video, Xs and Os
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The Pacers do a great job of isolating 4 players on the left side clearing the entire side out for Granger. Williams attempted to make Granger go left initially as he has his shoulders turned and positioned that way. He has to "push up" and force Granger left there. Once Granger knows he can go right he gets in his dribble rhythm. As he goes right, Hibbert tries to seal in the paint and does a great job of not staying in the lane. Jared Jeffries tries to run at Granger, which is the right play, but it's too late as Granger is already shooting the shot he wants.

That's poor communication. You can see Billups trying to signal to Fields that he should aggressively show. Fields gets himself in help position if Granger were to head his direction. But because Williams can't force him towards help, Fields is negated in the play.

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Sebastian Pruiti and I think very much alike from an Xs and Os perspective. When he sees something Knicks related he emails it to me. They are always absolutely spot on. Bookmark this site.

I hate the fact that the Knicks switch on screens. It's the definition of zero defensive responsibility. The Knicks haven't played enough together to have that much trust in each other defensively. Trust is earned through repetition and communication.

Early in the game, Carmelo made a great read on a jump switch, that left TKB favorite Dahntay Jones wide open. Jones isn't a catch and shoot player and the miss led to a Melo run out and 3 point play. A good risk/reward read albeit not text book defense.

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You've probably seen me post a zillion times on twitter "please post Melo" well, this is why. And this is why I wanted him in a Knicks uniform

 

Tags: Carmelo Anthony, Xs and Os
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As we continue to breakdown the pros and cons of metrics in basketball, one number that I always gave a ton of respect to Is plus minus. When a player is on the floor is his team allowing more points than they score and vice versa. It allows for coaches to understand combinations and also allows even more for great websites to figure them for you. Keep in mind that when analyzing the analyzing, those teams who do vs. those who don't have been better on the floor.

For those who don't know, I'm an eye test guy combined with supporting numbers. I've helped division 1 programs and spend a ton of time evaluating talent. It's a passion. I understand the need for metrics, but I believe they can be very misleading.

Plus/minus also made so much sense that most all NBA box scores online feature it today. Think about that. An addition to a tradition. Old school ewspaper people must have been forced to the emergency room due to hypertension.

Tags: Xs and Os
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Last night, the Cavs just made open shot after open shot. That is a direct byproduct of poor team defense and rotations, but it is also a result of good ball movement and finding players in rhythm. The Knicks have been a middle of the road assist team all year. It's probably why many fans have screamed for help at the back up point guard position. But assists aren't just created by point guards. As the Cavs proved last night it's the idea of finding the open man. They got 4 assists from Hickson and 7 from Anthony Parker, who also canned three 3-pointers.? That's 7 MORE than their combined season averages. Sessions and Davis had 11 combined, which is 2.5 LESS than their averages. The Cavs won the team assist contest 25-13, which is just as lopsided as their last battle when they destroyed the Knicks by 20 on the boards. The Cavs had 62 rebounds in Cleveland, yet only shot 42% from the field and 28% from three. By definition assists lead to points, not surprisingly, the Cavs shot 57% from three last night in making 12. If they make 10 or 11, the Knicks win the game.

How important is assist differential? Four of the top 5 teams who lead the league already have 42 wins or more including the Celtics, Bulls, Mavs and, of course, the Spurs. The Knicks are 11th. Keep an eye on that.

Was the Knicks defense that bad or did the Cavs blow up their averages last night? Probably a combination of both. The Knicks won the points in the paint battle 46-42 and the FT make battle 23-21. Fans get furious when a team allows something to happen all game long without D'Antoni adjusting. The Cavs made perimeter shots and elbow-mid range jumpers all night long.

Tags: Xs and Os
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Via NY Times (realgm)
While D'Antoni is willing to adapt, he doesn't want to abandon his identity.

?I think we?ll meet some place halfway in between,? he said Thursday, ?because we don?t want to lose what Melo and those guys do the best. A lot of it is going one-on-one. They?re the best in the league at it."

Anthony spent several summers with D?Antoni on the United States national team, which essentially ran D?Antoni?s system.

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Via Brendan Brown (KnicksNow)
? Willie Green: Perimeter player has recently entered starting lineup. Will play both wing positions. Shooting form looks very smooth. Can make a three, but best range is one step inside the line. Goes off the dribble well to his left. Will try to drive in pick-and-roll plays for shorter jumper or dish. A clever cutter to the basket who can finish with good strength. Has to pick spots on defense. Will hold and grab.

? Trevor Ariza: Small forward adds a slashing presence to the lineup. Excellent runner on the break -- will get to the rim with ease. Loves to curl tight to the lane coming off screens. Mainly a hard right driver. If he goes left, he will finish back to the right. Driving the ball in closeout plays. A capable three-point shooter who is struggling from deep. Has weird leg kick on jumper. Crowds ballhanders well.

They are coming off a bad loss last night and are just 14-18 on the road this season.
Tags: Xs and Os
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Via Will Leitch
We're serious about this: There's every reason to think the Knicks will lose the next three or four games, not because they're not good, but because they still obviously haven't nailed down how they work together, particularly on offense. The Knicks don't know each other's strengths on offense, aren't spacing correctly, haven't deciphered the Carmelo-Amar'e quandary yet. Most of the time they look like everyone just met, probably because everyone just did.
D'Antoni said last night that he hopes the team focuses strictly on defense until the offense meshes. I hope so too. I hope that the offense, again, is a blend of pick and roll and isolation. If they can balance all three components...defensive accountability along with proper pick and roll reads and isolation, then the Knicks will be very, very good.
Tags: Xs and Os
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We talk often about ball handlers forcing defenders to react allowing for drives and kicks. It is a big part of the Knicks offense, and is also a great play call in situations.

Gian from PostingandToasting shows here how Chauncey Billups' decision to not help on Lebron allowed Melo to make an individual defensive play, and froze Eddie House in the corner. Once Lebron realized Billups wasn't going to help, he committed to the drive.

Tags: Chauncey Billups, Xs and Os
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So why does Erik Spoelstra keep putting him in that situation? Practice? Giving him reps so he can improve towards the playoffs? That may be giving the heat coach too much credit.

Sebastian Pruiti explains:

Tags: Xs and Os
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[tweeted]http://twitter.com/alanhahn/status/41579610810499072[/tweeted]

Instead of using my calculator, I will look at basic numbers.

Rebounding is a misleading stat in the sense that the Knicks have won games this year despite being outrebounded. Minnesota, the Clippers, Charlotte and Sacramento are all around or (well) below .500, and are in the top 10 in rebounding differential. The Celtics are 2nd worst in total rebounds per game.? I think it's far less about defensive assignments, which certainly are important, and more about limiting second possessions. The Knicks were -6 last night in the offensive rebounding category. Think about it. An offensive rebound (which can be an easy put back for 2 points) gives you another possession. The average NBA team shoots 46% from the field, which is to say they score about 1 out of every 2 possessions. To allow 6 more possessions on offensive rebounds alone puts you in a severe disadvantage in a game that was at most a 3 possession-game (7-9 points) and was pretty much a 2-possession game or less.

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Although the staple of Seven Seconds or Less is the pick and roll, its core is rapid ball movement and quick decisions. I don't have any numbers to back this up but I know from what I've seen since the day I started to watch him that Carmelo Anthony is far more comfortable in situations where he is in sets and can take his time and get to his spot on the floor. Now he has to learn how to do both, and it appears that he's struggling to do so.

In the first quarter, Melo was having a complete offensive game. Towards the end of the half Melo was featured completely on the perimeter and was forced to use his dribble. He could only manage two shot attempts in the quarter and was called for a charged where he forced action off the dribble too far from the basket.

Tags: Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, Mike D'Antoni, Xs and Os
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Notice the first play, and one that Mike D'Antoni should take notice of. Melo is very comfortable posting up at both elbows. Billups does a good job of using the screen allowing for Melo to take his time in isolation.

The very next highlight, Billups knows that they may deny the post elbow entry and hits a quick release wide open three. A high-percentage shot as it's the best 3 point look straight on at the top of the key.

Tags: Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, video, Xs and Os
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Felton led the team in FGAs last night and it reminded me of the days of Marbury and/or Crawford, who would get the team in the offense and settle for too many shots.

I don't know what the number is, but I just feel like every time a PG leads their team in shot attempts, it's a losing equation. It limits touches for other players. The Knicks actually had good ball movement on the last play, but Felton hadn't been getting the ball out of his hands that early most of the night.

This is not to blame Felton, who looked the freshest he's been in a while going to the basket, but there were early shot clock pull ups and floaters that were ill-advised.

Tags: Raymond Felton, Xs and Os
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As Andrew Smith likes to say there are 240 minutes in an NBA game.

With the performance of Timofey Mozgov, it will be interesting to see how he gets incorporated into the rotation, if he does.

I think he's a 10-15 minute player per game, but at the expense of whom? Turiaf? Shawne Williams?

Tags: Mike D'Antoni, Xs and Os
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As far as defense goes, I go by defensive rating, a cumulative metric that is compiled by basketball-reference.com.

Currently the Knicks are 23rd, which is a far cry from where they need to be, which is around 15th or better. Obviously, fans would like that to be much closer to 1 than 15, but based on the offense and number of possessions, we figured being in the top half would suffice in order for success this season.

For more stats, you can head to Hoopdata.com where the following things jump out.

  • They have the Knicks 20th in their all around defensive category.
  • The Knicks are 15th in the very popular (and overused) opponents true shooting percentage.
  • Not surprisingly the Knicks are 26th in defensive rebounding rate
  • Because of Gallo's charges and team blocks, the Knicks are in the top 5 of defensive plays made.
You can do your own homework. But the fact of the matter is, at around the midpoint of the season, the Knicks have not played well defensively enough. They've had stretches, but they continue to lose one on one battles. Why not just double team? Good question, but too easy of a critique. I can't stand when their forwards switch, and they don't grab enough loose balls, but the bottom line is they need to get much better if they are going to make, and sustain, a playoff run.

Tags: Xs and Os
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And in pick and roll situations, thanks to nbaplaybook for the knowledge

I often hear how Melo can't fit in this system. This is a pick and roll play that the Knicks run often. They feature Amar'e at the top and either Chandler or Gallo on the left side of the court. After the pick and roll action the wing player will find space at the three point line. Anthony shows the ability to fit that mold and finish with the foul. And Kenyon Martin was in his way.

Tags: Carmelo Anthony, Xs and Os
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Via NBA Playbook

We actually used to run a slightly different version of this quick hitter in high school. This play is unguardable for a few reasons. One, if the pass is perfect, Fields, or whomever, gets an easy basket and gets the game off to the right start. If the lob is guarded, that means help either came from the opposite block or a switch from the screener's man. The Knicks moved Turiaf out to the 3 point line and were lucky Duncan couldn't close out.? If Parker, who is guarding the screener, sags then Felton can pop to the ball for a wide open jump shot.? And if that's not open he can use Amar'e on a screen and roll, their bread and butter play by running Turiaf through and attacking Jefferson on the block to for a kickout to Chandler .

Tags: Xs and Os
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Great job by BP and Sebastian Pruiti taking an in-depth look at Wilson Chandler's development this season.

The key to Chandler making jump shots is catching the ball in rhythm. As we saw against Miami and Orlando, even though he scored from everywhere against the latter, aggressive close outs lead to rushed shots out of rhythm. Expect to see that tonight. That's where Will has to utilize his pump fake and cause the fly by, then attack the rim.

Tags: Wilson Chandler, Xs and Os
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Via NBAPlaybook

When people talk about the New York Knicks, they like to say that they run a wide open offense, and I don?t know how much credit Coach D?Antoni gets (you often hear that he lets his players play, rather than people talking about his Xs & Os ability). ?However, D?Antoni tweaking the offense, steering it away from PNR and to Spot-Up sets shows that he knows what he is doing. ?The Knicks didn?t win the game, but they were able to stay competitive (which is something they were unable to do their first game with the Heat) and prove to Miami that they are a legitimate threat against them. more.
My thing as i mentioned was that the Heat showed and recovered on Amar'e all night which caused the Knicks perimeter shooters to be out of rhythm, which led to catch and rushed shots (rushes), not catch and clean shots.

Tags: Xs and Os
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Via Brendan Brown
Defense

? The Thunder are a pretty solid transition defense team. They will give up some chances, but all five players run back hard to close off the lane and all have good length.

? For all of their activity, the Thunder get beat by opponents who will drive to the rim. Their five-man rotations aren?t solid. Off-ball cutters hurt them at the rim.

The Thunder are the ultimate team in terms of not settling for jump shots. If you get open looks off good rotation, fine. But guys like Gallo and Chandler can have very solid games attacking the basket, which will then open up the perimeter game.
Tags: Xs and Os
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