The San Antonio Spurs (25-12) return to action tonight after a “rare” two days off in this condensed NBA season. The Spurs will be looking to rebound from Sunday’s loss at home to the Denver Nuggets as the Spurs are finally fully healthy, but struggling (1-2) coming out of the All-Star break.
The Spurs’ opponent tonight is a team that has caught major attention from fans, players, coaches, and even non-sports media outlets -- the New York “Linsanity” Knicks make their way into the AT&T Center.
The young point guard Jeremy Lin is garnering so much attention after carrying the Knicks for a stretch just before the All-Star break when stars Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire were out with injuries.
The “Linsanity” attention has seemed to simmer down a bit with the Knicks reverting back to their old ways, as they’re currently on a two-game losing streak. The Knicks just lost Tuesday in Dallas, to the Mavericks.
Case No. 38: New York Knicks (18-20)
Road record: 7-11. Last 10 games: 5-5.
Commendable areas for the Knicks
- 2nd: Steals (9.5)
- 6th: Free throw attempts (25.5)
Though they’re not the best, the Knicks are actually playing some middle of the pack defense as they’re ranked second in steals and holding opponents to 94.9 points per game. That’s actually less than the Spurs, and this is a Mike D’Antoni-coached team we’re talking about here.
Behind Anthony, Stoudemire, and Lin, the Knicks have three active-driving players who get to the free throw line at a steady rate.
Deficient areas for the Knicks
And here’s where you find out why the Knicks are two games under .500:
- 2nd: Turnovers (16.1)
- 7th: Personal fouls (21.2)
- 20th: Field goal shooting (43%)
- 23rd: Assists (19.5)
- 26th: Blocks (4.2)
- 27th: Three point shooting (31%)
Some of their issues come from the defensive side of the ball as they foul a lot of their opponents, only really get control of the paint from Tyson Chandler, and have some big issues on the offensive side of the ball like turnovers, making shots at a low rate, not making that extra pass, and being very streaky behind the arc.
Carmelo Anthony – 21.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1 steal, 18.4 FG (40%), 6.9 FT (82%)
Richard Jefferson and Kawhi Leonard, have fun defending Anthony. Anthony might be looking for a rebound night as he scored just six points on 2-of-12 shooting against Dallas Tuesday.
- Amar’e Stoudemire – 17.3 points, 8 rebounds, 15 FG (46%), 4.7 FT (81%)
Stoudemire has given the Spurs fits throughout the majority of his career; let’s see how he produces with Lin delivering his passes.
- Jeremy Lin – 14.6 points, 6 assists, 1.5 steals, 10.8 FG (47%), 5.1 FT (76%)
I’m interested in seeing how Lin’s defense will be against the Spurs’ Tony Parker. Parker will also have to be constantly alert on defense as Lin is now the Knicks’ setup man and third playmaker.
- Tyson Chandler – 11.6 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1 steal, 1.4 blocks, 5.7 FG (69%)
One reason why the Knicks’ opponent points per game might be down this season is because they have indeed added the long presence of Chandler to defend the paint. Chandler is also quietly having a very efficient season as he’s shooting 69% from the field (mainly alley-oop dunks) while taking very little shots.
- Iman Shumpert – 10.5 points, 2 steals, 10.6 FG (39%)
- Landry Fields – 9.8 points, 1.3 steals, 8.2 FG (47%)
- J.R. Smith – 9.3 points, 1.8 steals, 9.3 FG (38%), 5 3PT FG (20%)
Though he’s struggling to connect on his three point shots early into joining the Knicks, Spurs players andcoaches are aware of the scoring machine Smithcan become when he gets hot from behind the arc. He has the power to take over a game and momentum with his unexpected scoring outbursts.
- “The Accountant” Steve Novak – 8.3 points, 5.9 FG (48%), 4.8 3PT FG (48%)
“The Accountant” is back in town after transferring his bank job to New York. All jokes aside, it’s great to see a former Spurs player thriving and earning minutes because of his good production. Novak is another example of a former Spurs player who is making a name for himself because he was able to get more playing time elsewhere.
- Toney Douglas – 7.6 points, 9.4 FGA (32%)
- Bill Walker – sore left elbow
Yes, the Knicks come in with a lot of star andindividual power, but it seems that they have yet to find any real chemistry amongst each other on both sides of the ball. Chandler controlling the paint can only go so far before the Knicks don’t make that extra switch or help move to stop the other team on a consistent basis.
If the Spurs can limit their own turnovers, not fall into the one-on-one game against Knicks players, and spread the ball, then San Antonio shouldn’t have any trouble earning a win as they will be fresh and the Knicks could be fatigued from playing a back-to-back.
The Spurs must also make sure to keep the Knicks’ three point shooting at a low percentage and keep Anthony, Stoudemire, and Lin off the free throw line as much as possible.
Let the circus begin.