Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Knicks long-distance success key vs Nets

The Battle of the Boroughs II tips off tonight at 7 ET on ESPN, with the Brooklyn Nets hosting the Eastern Conference-leading New York Knicks for the second time this season. The Knicks are looking for revenge after losing the first matchup in overtime, 96-89.

The Nets and Knicks enter this game headed in opposite directions. The Knicks have won six of their last seven games since that overtime loss to the Nets on November 26. Brooklyn has lost four straight games after starting the season 11-4.

At 15-5, the Knicks have matched their third-best 20-game start in franchise history. They sit in the top spot in the Eastern Conference through at least 20 games for the first time since April 1994, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. That 1994 team won 57 games and lost in the NBA Finals.

Live and Die by the Three
The Knicks are one of most efficient offensive teams this season and a key part of their success has been their prolific shooting from beyond the arc.

New York leads the NBA in 3-point field goals made per game (11.9), 3-point field goal attempts per game (24.9) and percent of points from 3-pointers (34.7). Each of those stats would be an NBA single-season record if the Knicks can maintain their pace.

The Knicks have also been hitting those long distance shots with consistency, ranking third in the NBA in 3-point field goal percentage (40.5). Jason Kidd has been the most efficient Knick from beyond the arc, making 51 percent of his treys, the second-best mark among qualified players.

The Nets will present a stiff challenge to the Knicks “live-and-die by the three” offensive strategy. Brooklyn is allowing just 16.3 3-point attempts per game, the fewest in the NBA. Its opponents are making 34.6 percent of those shots, 11th-best in the league.

Missing Lopez
Brook Lopez will miss his sixth straight game tonight due to a foot injury. The Nets have dropped four of five games without Lopez so far this season and his absence has really been felt on the defensive end.

Their opponents are shooting 50.7 percent from the field over that five-game span, compared to 44.9 percent during the first 14 games of the season.

As an on-ball defender, Lopez has held his man to just 0.72 points per play, 12th-best among 141 players this season with at least 150 plays.

The Nets have really missed him as the big defender in the pick-and-roll. In those situations, Lopez ranks third in points per play allowed when defending the ball handler.

Stat of the Game
Knicks are 33-11 since Mike Woodson took over as head coach on March 14. Win or lose tonight, Woodson will set the record for most wins by a Knicks coach in his first 45 games with the team, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

That record was shared by Jeff Van Gundy, Pat Riley, Stu Jackson and Don Nelson, who were all 29-16 in their first 45 games as head coach of the Knickerbockers.

Kristen Wiig Heidi Klum

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