For the love of smoothies, Monty please don't torture us and put babitt on melo at any point tonight!
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Game on: Knicks @ Pelicans
Tonight, the 23-29 Pelicans host the 20-33 Knicks in their first game after the all-star break. New York has been one of the NBA’s most disappointing teams thus far, going from the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference last season to the bottom third of the league this season despite little roster turnover. Like New Orleans, they have some experienced some bad luck due to injuries, but to a much lesser extent. One of their more recent injuries, however, has actually helped the team’s efficiency. Andrea Bargnani has not played since January 22nd, and since then, the Knicks have the 4th best offensive rating in the NBA. This game tonight is one that the Pelicans certainly should win, but I expect a close game.
What the Knicks do well
- Protect the basketball. The Knicks are one of only four teams that turn the ball over on less than 14% of their possessions, resulting in only 15 points allowed off of turnovers per game (4th best in the NBA).
- Defend the paint. New York only allows 38.7 points in the paint per game, the 5th best average in the league.
- Rebounding. In the 16 games since Tyson Chandler returned from his most recent injury, the Knicks are 9th in offensive rebound rate and 6th in defensive rebound rate.
Where the Knicks struggle
- Defending the 3-point line. New York ranks in the bottom 20% of the league in both 3-point attempts allowed per game (22.6) and 3-point percentage allowed (37.0%).
- Get to the free throw line. The Knicks rank last in the NBA in free throw rate (.238 free throw attempts per field goal attempt) and free throw attempts per game (19.7).
- Scoring at the rim. No team scores fewer points in the paint per game than the Knicks, averaging just under 34 per game.
How the Pelicans can take advantage
- Space the floor. Anthony Morrow and Luke Babbitt should see extended minutes tonight in order to capitalize on the Knicks’ inability to defend the arc. Of course, this is Monty Williams we’re dealing with, so the rotation for tonight’s game is anyone’s guess.
- Win the free throw battle. When you couple New York’s league-worst scoring in the paint with their inability to get to the line, it makes that the Knicks aren’t great at drawing fouls. That being said, the Pelicans and Knicks allow the two highest free throw rates in the NBA, so if the Pelicans don’t maintain defensive discipline (looking at you, Greglexis Ajinsma), New York could end up at the line more than usual.
- Don’t settle early in the shot clock. In tonight’s case, “inefficient shots” and “mid-range jumpers” are not necessarily synonymous, as the Knicks allow the highest shooting percentage in the league of that mid-range shot variety (44.5%). That being said, the Knicks and Pelicans play at two of the slowest 8 paces in the league, so every possession becomes even more important; taking questionable shots while the Pelicans still have time to get a better look could prove to be costly.
Enjoy the game!