Game Preview #28 - San Antonio Spurs @ New York Knicks

So I'm really just waiting on the game against the Christmas Deer to dictate the tone of this preview. Will it be A) "What a great game! Now that's more like it!" or B) "A win's a win, I guess, but why are we struggling against these bottom feeders? or C) "WTF, we had this one--why did Pop switch to tiny ball for no reason at all? He's clearly lost it as well as this game!" or D) "Fantastic. We managed to make that Bulls collapse look unremarkable by blowing a 50-point lead. You're welcome, Vinny. I've only got 3 cyanide capsules, so that's 2 lucky souls I can take with me. Who's in?"

UPDATE: It's A, it's A! ::sun streams from the heavens, birds warble joyfully, trees and flowers blossom in time-lapse photography::

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San Antonio Spurs @ New York Knickerbockers
Where: Madison Square Garden - New York, NY
When: December 27, 2009, 5:00 PM Spurs time
Watch: NBA TV; FSN Southwest


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How They Stack Up
12-5 Home 7-9
4-6 Road 4-9
102.0
Offense 101.1
96.9 Defense 103.7
48.4 FG% 44.6
38.5 3-pt% 33.8
74.5 FT% 76.9
42.3 Rebounds 40.6
14.4 TOs 14.7
7-3 Last 10 7-3
Won 1
Streak Lost 1
3rd, Southwest Position 3rd, Atlantic

Country/Time Zone Game Time
Argentina 8:00 PM
West Coast
3:00 PM
Philippines 7:00 AM
Central Europe Midnight
Palestine/Egypt 1:00 AM
East Coast 6:00 PM
Scenic Time Zone
4:00 PM
Perth, AUS 7:00 AM
Tokyo, JP 8:00 AM
Sydney, AUS 10:00 AM

Spurs
(16-11)
Matchups

Knicks
(11-18)

Tony Parker
Go, Greased Lightning

Point Guard

I haven't watched a single Knicks game this season, so I'm not even going to pretend to analyze how they match up one-on-one against the Spurs. Instead, I'll just point out key stats and trends. In this case, I'll start with assists per game. Duhon is ranked 10th in the league; Parker is ranked 15th.

However, among guards in the NBA, Tony is ranked 28th in efficiency while Duhon is ranked 49th. That could have something to do with Tony's FGP of 48.9 compared with Duhon's 36.0 FGP. Given that the Wee Frenchman also holds the edge in Pts/Reb/Asts, I'm giving the slight advantage to TP.

Advantage: Spurs


Chris Duhon
is a guard for the NY Knicks.

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Keith Bogans
Trying to avoid milk-carton status

Shooting Guard

How to put this nicely. . . . Okay, Bogans may be starting? But that doesn't mean he'll be playing a whole lot.

Meanwhile, Wilson Chandler is averaging 16.5 points on .517 shooting (78-151 FG) with three 20-point efforts, 4.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists over 36.6 minutes in his last 11 games. Sooooo . . .

Advantage: Knicks


Wilson Chandler
is also a guard for the NY Knicks.

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Richard Jefferson
Turning the corner?

Small Forward

Jefferson wasn't the star of last night's game, but he did set the tone by drawing first blood with a three-pointer; a welcome sight given his clankfest from beyond the perimeter against Portland. Let's hope we see more of that tonight. The three-pointer, I mean. Not the clankfest.

Gallo has had a nice little run lately. He scored 26 points in the Knicks Christmas Day loss to Miami, and went 7 for 7 from the free-throw line. He's been clutch in December, and he's only 21 years old. Furthermore, he's been honing his three-point skills and currently leads the NBA in three-pointers made.

Advantage: Knicks


Danilo Gallinari
is a forward for the New York Knicks.

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DeJuan Blair
Puts the B in BAM

Power Forward

Blair had a great night against the Bucks--can he make it two in a row? One area in which we have a chance to dominate the Knicks is defense. We'll need Blair (and Hill, and Bogans, and Timmy, etc.) to show up defensively but avoid making careless fouls. Jeffries leads the league in drawing charges, so DeJuan needs to play smart. Pop is fond of calling Blair a "stat machine." If DeJuan can shine on the defensive side of the stats column, I'll be happy.

Advantage: Spurs


Jared Jeffries
is also a forward for the New York Knicks.

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Tim Duncan
The Big Constant

Center

I couldn't believe my eyes when I didn't see that white box around Timmeh's smiling face in LatinD's Bucks preview. That took some balls, my friend. Balls that I do not possess.

David Lee is currently leading the NBA in double-doubles. But he's in the Eastern conference, so, you know . . . not quite as impressive.

Advantage: Spurs


David Lee
is a center for the New York Knicks.

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Manu Ginobili
Leader of the BAM

Bench & Role Players

Last night was a great night for our bench. Glorious, really. Manu had his rhythm back, and McDyess was a real play-maker.

But look out--the Knicks bench is anchored by Big Al, and Big Al has already had 2 40+ games this season. In fact, he leads the NBA in scoring off the bench.

Advantage: Tied


Al Harrington
plays off the bench for the New York Knicks.

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Gregg Popovich
Wise Guy

Coach

This should be interesting. D'Antoni certainly has a lot of experience facing off against Pop. But seven seconds or less is a long way back in the rear-view mirror.

Advantage: Spurs


Mike D'Antoni
coaches the New York Knicks
images via yahoo.com

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OTHER FACTORS

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Intangibles

The Knicks and Spurs are on a similar trajectory at the moment. Note that both teams are 7 and 3 in their last 10 games. The Knicks seem to be rising above the Nate Robinson controversy and the (manufactured) D'Antoni "regret" story to play surprisingly solid ball lately. They are, however, the Knicks. And the Spurs now have 13 straight wins against sub-.500 teams.

Advantage: Spurs

Mojo

Last night's game had to have been an enormous confidence booster to the newer Spurs and a big relief to the old ones. It's good to be boring again.

Advantage: Spurs

Winner

I know I risk undoing all of LatinD's hard work on the reverse-mojo front by doing this, but . . .
Prediction: Spurs (mind you, I'm not saying it will be easy)

Keys To The Game

  • Turnovers - Last night the Spurs looked polished and confident in every way but one--we had 16 turnovers. Obviously, we can't count on the bench to compensate for our ball-handling difficulties by shooting 79.5% from the field every night. Somehow we've got to get a handle on the TO issue.
  • Urgency - Last night's win had to feel good, but this is no time to let up. The Spurs need to play hard and tough, especially given the venue. MSG has always been a hard place for us to get a win.
  • Communication - The team needs to build on what they did last night, and one of the things they did extremely well last night was communicate with one another. The ball movement was a thing of beauty to behold. If they can do that again tonight, they will be hard to beat.

Strength of Schedule

It's a SEGABABA for us, and it's practically a matinee as well, woo hoo! The Spurs have had plenty of time to stress and dehydrate on those long, weather-delayed flights, too.

The Knicks played (and lost to Miami) on Christmas Day. That's got to be fun. By the way, did you see what Stan Van Gundy recently said? "I actually feel sorry for people who have nothing to do on Christmas Day other than watch an NBA game." He and Pop should have a curmudgeon-off, don't you think? On Twitter.

Last Time They Met

The Garden is a tough house. Last February, the Knicks managed to eke out an overtime victory at home, winning 112-107 behind a 32-point performance by Nate Robinson. It's probably safe to say Nate won't be leading a comeback charge this time around. The Knicks will have to look elsewhere for that spark.

Some Other Reading

Knicks

Posting and Toasting - The SBN blog for the Knicks. It's good, and I like that they analyze the media coverage of the Knicks with a gimlet eye. For instance, that much-trumpeted and re-linked Adrian Wojnarowski headline about D'Antoni regretting joining the Knicks? Posting and Toasting points out the fine print--it was a two-month old quote. I hate that shifty shit, and Woj pulls it all the time, by the way.

KnickerBlogger.Net - The TrueHoop blog for the Knicks. Can't say as I've read it, but it looks active and lively.

Spurs

48 Minutes of Hell: Ennh, it's all right, but it's nothing special. HAHA, just messing with you! Tim Varner and Graydon Gordian are gods among sports bloggers, and you should be kissing the ground they type on.

Project Spurs: Lots of good folks in here. Visit, read, comment, come back. And don't miss their podcast, either.

The (sort of) Daily Twitter

George_Hill3

Just landed in NYC and still cold but nit as cold as Milwaukee ways good NYC and tweet fam

manuginobili

OK! 3.30am and we finally made it to the hotel in NY. Time to sleep, we play again in less than 15 hours!!

DeJuan45

I CANNOT WAIT 4 THIS STEELER GAME 2 MORROW!!!!!! WE NEED THIS ONE CANT WAIT!!!!

You can also find all the official Spurs Sports & Entertainment Twitter accounts here: http://twitter.com/spurs/official/members

Other things of possible interest

Mmm, would you like a big slice of lovely piping-hot schadenfreude?

A seriously fantastic short film by Guy Maddin


Where to Tune In

TV

This game will be aired on NBA TV (the actual channel, not League Pass). It will also be on Fox Sports Network's Southwest affiliates.

Online

As always, NBA League Pass is recommended for those who are willing to pony up the cash. Almost every Spurs game will be broadcast there, which is especially helpful for those of us who aren't in the San Antonio area..

Please don't post links to illegal game feeds in the game thread. Links to illegal feeds are not permitted on SBNation, but you can probably find them out there on the internets if you're resourceful and desperate. In fact, nobody can stop you from googling "atdhe". You can also shoot an email to dmenendez@gmail.com for more assistance.

Spurs League Pass audio is still free this year, so check it out.

Radio

If you're in the San Antonio area and aren't near a TV, tune in to WOAI (1200 AM).

And remember this about New York:

♪ ♫ If we can make it there, we'll make it anywhere (come on, everyone, high-kick chorus line!) ♬

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