Sunday, October 14, 2012

Knicks Drop Celtics in Second Preseason Game

Saturday, October 13 2012
Final Score: New York Knicks: 98 Boston Celtics: 95
Knicks Drop Celtics in Second Preseason Game
If the preseason is any indication of how the regular season is going to go, the Knicks and Celtics are going to have some memorable match-ups this coming season.  For a preseason game, the competition was fierce and players were going at it with high intensity.  Like any time the Knicks and Celtics meet on the court, there was trash talking and tough play, as there was two technicals and flagrant fouls.  The Knicks were able to take this one against the Celtics 98-95, with fans hoping more of the same come the regular season.

The Knicks pick-and-roll offense once again was clicking tonight even without one of the main weapons on that scheme in Amar’e Stoudemire.  Tonight, Tyson Chandler and Chris Copeland took advantage as the screener. 

Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni all ran the pick-and-roll well tonight, rotating as the main ball handler while on the court.  They provided precise alley-oop passes to the rolling screeners and opened up great scoring opportunities with the lanes being created. 

The ability to play the pick-and-roll led the Knicks to 44 points in the paint, outscoring the Celtics who manage 34.  When Stoudemire returns from injury, he will add yet another dimension to the offense, as he can be the screener or set up at the wings prepared to take jump shots.

Defense tonight was a strong point for the Knicks, as the second unit really stepped it up in the fourth quarter.  Led by Kidd and Prigioni each getting two steals, the second unit played outstanding and was a big reason the Knicks came out on top tonight.  Copeland, who didn’t play in the first half, scored 21 points in the game and grabbed four rebounds, putting on his best Carmelo Anthony impersonation.  The performance tonight should give Mike Woodson and his staff a positive feeling of where the second unit is heading, even without top gun J.R. Smith, who sat out tonight with a sore left ankle.  

There were some negatives the Knicks need to work on tonight, with one glaring negative being transition defense.  The Knicks managed only two fast break points compared to the 12 the Celtics score; a number that could have been much higher for the Celtics.  Rajon Rondo presents a nightmare for any opposing defense, but the Knicks will need to limit these opportunities for their opponents as they are more geared towards grinding it out in the half-court.

The Knicks need to also continue to build continuity on the offensive side of the ball, as they became very stagnant at points tonight, with players just standing around the perimeter watching the play.  Anthony needs to continue his development of becoming more of a facilitator on the court and Woodson needs to keep working on schemes to get people into better positions to score.  The offense still is a work in progress right now, especially with a main cog like Stoudemire sidelined currently.

Back to Copeland, who played himself into a roster spot with tonight’s performance.  Copeland gave the Knicks spirited effort tonight, banging in the paint with the Celtics bigs and playing very physical down low.  He attacked the basket on the offensive end, scoring 21 points and attempting 13 free throws, making nine.  Copeland also looked very strong as the screener in the pick-and-roll with Kidd and Prigioni throughout the fourth quarter and overtime.
Copeland gives the Knicks something they lack in a young inside presence.  With the age of Kurt Thomas and Marcus Camby, who is already nursing a calf injury, it would not be the worst to have a young alternative in Copeland on the bench.  The health of Stoudemire isn’t a given either, so having as many able bodied options as possible is a must.

The Knicks will look to continue building on what has been a strong preseason thus far as they will travel north of the border Friday, October 19th to play against the Toronto Raptors at the Bell Centre in Montreal.

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