Knicks and Pistons battle in London



  • Teams: New York Knicks (24-13) at Detroit Pistons (14-24)
  • Date: January 17, 2013
  • Time: 3:00 p.m.
  • Television: NBA TV

What to look for

After losing three games in a row against the Boston Celtics, Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls, the New York Knicks rebounded last Sunday to defeat the New Orleans Hornets at home thanks in large part to Chris Copeland’s big scoring performance.

Today, the New York Knicks and Detroit Pistons will be the face of the NBA in Europe as both teams will square off against each other at the O2 Arena in London, England.

Coming into the contest, the Knicks have dealt with an assortment of injuries to key players. Ray Felton and Rasheed Wallace should miss this contest while Tyson Chandler missed practice yesterday due to illness.

And yet, for all of these injury woes, the Knickerbockers still produce great results on offense as evidenced by their offensive efficiency of 108.9 (third best in the league).

Mind you, New York is a peculiar team offensively because of the way they produce points.

Typically, great offensive teams do a good job of creating high percentage shots from high percentage areas. Sounds simple enough, but the Knicks don’t exactly subscribe to that theory.

Indeed, according to Team Rankings, Mike Woodson’s group is the second worst team in the NBA at scoring in the paint. Instead, they run a couple of post up plays for Carmelo Anthony and should defenses converge, he finds open teammates for shots from 3-point range. Obviously, that’s not much of an offense, thus the Knicks love to run pick-and-rolls to create open shots.

Once Tyson Chandler sets a screen for a ball handler, he dives hard to the hoop for an alley oop or defenders rotate to him thus freeing up the perimeter for wide-open shots from downtown. MySynergySports tells us that 23.2 percent of the Knicks’ offensive plays finish with a spot up jumper, the highest figure of all their plays.

Granted, living off spot up jumpers can be dangerous, especially if your team is only converting 40 percent of them like the Knicks are per MySynergySports.

Therefore, Woodson mixes things up by running a steady dose of pick-and-rolls and isolations. We’ve already covered the pick-and-roll plays, but the isos are a different animal.

Carmelo Anthony does a decent job of bailing out his team in these types of situations, but New York usually struggles when the team tries going to the isolation well too often. Between J.R. Smith, Chris Copeland, Ray Felton (when healthy) and Melo, the Knicks have a tendency to take some low percentage shots out of one-on-one situations, which often results in bad misses.

These instances aren’t as frequent as last season, but they still happen nonetheless.

But again, this is statistically the third best offense in the league, and this is by virtue of their ball control. No team in the league turns the ball over less than New York and they also do a good job of sharing the ball amongst each other around the perimeter to put up their league leading 28.8 shots per game from 3-point range.

In other words, the Detroit Pistons’ defense will be tested early and often in London. New York will force them to defend the roll man in the pick-and-roll as well as the plethora of shooters that will share the court.

This task might prove to be difficult for Lawrence Frank and company, but the Pistons’ size might just force New York’s coaching staff to match up with Detroit especially if they dominate the boards.

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