Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What to Watch For: New York Knicks vs. Brooklyn Nets December 11

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012
Pre Game News and Notes
New York Knicks vs. Brooklyn Nets

The Knicks will look to get some revenge in round two of the Battle of the Boroughs as they travel to Brooklyn to take on the Nets.  The first time around, the Nets won a hard fought overtime game 96-89.  In the first meeting, it was the Knicks who were not at full strength; tonight it will be the Nets who will be playing short-handed.  Here are some things to watch tonight:

-Jason Kidd in the Lineup

In the first matchup of the season, the Knicks were without guard Jason Kidd.  Thankfully, this time they will have Kidd at their disposal and he should assume his regular role in the starting lineup. 

Without Kidd in the lineup, the Knicks offense struggled; the ball movement was stagnant and the offense was over reliant on isolations, especially with Carmelo Anthony.  With Kidd in the lineup, the ball movement is crisper and everyone is on top of their game.

Kidd also brings veteran intangibles that are irreplaceable for the Knicks.  He is 39 years old, but he has the hands of a 24 year old and can still make things happen on the defensive end of the court and still makes precision passes not every point guard is capable of. 

-Attack the Paint

The Nets this time will be the team without a key piece in their lineup, as starting center Brook Lopez will miss the game with a foot injury.  It will be the sixth straight game that Lopez misses, meaning Andray Blatche will take over at center for the Nets tonight again.

The Nets are 1-4 without Lopez in the lineup, with their only win coming against a lowly Orlando Magic squad.  The Nets will also have Reggie Evans in the starting lineup, replacing Kris Humphries to try and replace the defense lost with Lopez sitting out.

Without Lopez in the lineup, the Nets are allowing 11.5 more points per game; 102.2 without Lopez compared to 90.7 with him.  The shooting percentages also see a drastic change without Lopez in the lineup, as the Nets are allowing teams to shoot 50.7 percent from the field without him compared to 44.9 with him. 
Blatche has filled in admirably for Lopez, scoring 17.2 points per game to go along with 9.8 rebounds, but he leaves a lot to be desired on the defensive end, blocking only 0.4 shots per game compared to the 2.5 Lopez provides.

-Bench Play

With the injuries the Nets have, their starting lineup will be shifted around much like the Knicks in the first meeting.  That means that their bench is weakened, meaning the Knicks have to take advantage.

Since Lopez has been out, the productivity of the Nets bench players has suffered as well.  Jerry Stackhouse has been shooting 30.4 percent from the field and C.J Watson is averaging only 1.5 assists and shooting 37.5 percent.

The Knicks bench has been coming alive of late, with Steve Novak finding his touch and Rasheed Wallace giving strong minutes as well.  J.R. Smith has struggled with his shot recently, but the effort he gives on defense and how he fills other stats still helps the Knicks.

With the Nets lineup change, the Knicks now have the superior bench and will have to take advantage as they cannot rely on Anthony, Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler solely to carry the offense.  

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