Saturday, November 3, 2007

Knicks-Cavs Breakdown

I'm kind of surprised at how harsh the press is on the first Knicks game. They collapsed on old nemeses of free throw shooting and 3 point defense, but there was also a lot to like. Let us discuss...

People seem to suddenly forget that the Knicks' biggest problem last year was turnovers. They were god-awful, with no ball movement beyond tossing it into Curry. Tonight it was like a different team -- crisp passes around the perimeter to find open 3s for Nate, jump shots for Z, and Curry down low. This was against one of the better defensive teams in the league, mind you. If they can play as fluidly as last night, they will see improvement in their record on that alone.

Zach Randolph looked fantastic. I think after a lifetime of Knicks basketball, I somehow expect every all-star the Knicks acquire to immediately become a crappy player the second they put on a Knicks jersey. McDyess, say? But he was as advertised, bombing away with an absolutely gorgeous 20 footer and collecting offensive rebounds with aplomb. He didn't seem to step on Curry's toes at all on offense, with both looking comfortable. Curry looked very in control of his body after a wild preseason. Also on the big man front, Lee played limited minutes but showed off a more refined post game then we've seen before. With all three playing well that is a monster for any team to handle.

The 3 point defense was god-awful, of course. And it will cost them many games if they don't improve. Interior defense, however, showed flashes of improvement while still remaining pretty lousy. Zach and Curry fronted their man and Gooden and Ilgauskas didn't nuke the Knicks, as mediocre big men with half-decent offensive skills often do.

So I'm not happy with the loss. But I'm not at all ready to start declaring the Knicks in trouble or unimproved after that performance. They have to start winning quickly though, another weak November can kill them for the season.

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