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Game Thread #52: @ Knicks

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"Zees iz my game faze."

So what have we learned in the last three days?

Now let's please move one and focus on the rest of the regular season. Important games are coming, and we all want to see a Spurs team that fills us with hope for the future. Yeah, important games... but in the meantime, here are the Knicks!

EDIT: Manu injured. Goddamit. Hopefully it's not trade-related, and it's not bad.

Spurs guard Manu Ginobili did not travel with the team to New York for tonight's game against the Knicks, opting instead to remain behind in San Antonio for testing on a sore right ankle that had been bothering him since before the All-Star break.

The good news for the Spurs, and for Ginobili, is that the soreness is not in the same ankle he had surgically repaired over the offseason.

Ginobili will undergo those tests today. If the results are negative and the soreness subsides, it is possible he could rejoin the team in the midst of their three-game road trip, which continues at Detroit on Thursday and Washington on Saturday.

Preview after the jump:

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Game Time: 6:30 Spurs Time, 10:30 am Argentina
2:30 am Egypt, 1:30 am CET
9:30 pm Perth, Japan, Philippines
10:30 pm Guam

TV: FSNSW
Officials: TBA
TBA
TBA


35-16
Tony Parker
Me me me
Manu Ginóbili
Gape at me
Tim Duncan
Respect me
Matt Bonner
Laugh with me
Michael Finley
Laugh at me


21-31
Nate Robinson
Look at me
Wilson Chandler
Jump off me
Jared Jeffries
Ignore me
David Lee
Sign me
Al Harrington
Kiss me
images via espn.com
18-7 Home 14-12
17-9 Road 7-19
97.8 Offense 105.1
94.5 Defense 107.8
46.5 FG% 44.3
39.2 3-pt% 35.8
76.9 FT% 79.9
40.5 Rebounds 42.5
12.2 TO's 14.9
7-3 Last 10 3-7
L 1 Streak L 6
PG
SG
C
PF
SF
Bench
Coach
Intangibles
Mojo
Winner

Breakdown

  • Point Guard - Nate Robinson is probably feeling pretty good about himself right now, so it would be great if Tony could take him down a peg. Considering Nate's handles and his lackluster D lately, that might be too much to ask, especially if you take into account that he's been putting some serious numbers in the boxscore in the last three games: 19-4-4, 30-3-6 and 33-15-9! Last guy to match Nate's numbers? Magic Johnson. I wonder when was the last time Bonner grabbed 9 rebounds? Or that Tony dished out 15 assists? Aaah, the wonders of D'Antoni ball. (Duhon is listed as day-to-day, and probably worrying about his starting position.)
  • Off Guard - Wilson Chandler is a great dunk prop, but he's not that great as a basketball player. He's a streaky scorer, though, so let's be careful before we Ukic it up again. Manu has been consistent lately, so I expect him to excel against the open-door approach to D the Knicks use.
  • Center - Newsflash: Zach Randolph is no longer a Knicks player. The replacement in the last game the Knicks played was Jared Jeffries, an absolute beast, and could very well our undoing. If we start The JV at center. Timmy ought to drink his milkshake.
  • Power Forward - As good as he can be, I'm not sure whether David Lee deserves the edge over the Red Rocket, but Bonner has been inconsistent lately, with some incredibly good games where he carried us and some disappearing acts against lesser opponents. I still don't understand how he failed so badly against the Boshless Craptors. Also, I didn't want to give us all the edges because I did so against the Raptors and we lost.
  • Small Forward - At this point Finley has used up all the good will he gathered during that magical November. He's back to his old self (ha ha) and like everyone says, he doesn't deserve the minutes he's getting. I imagine this is either a plan to increase his trade value, in which case it failed, or Pop was simply resting Bowen for his increased minutes in the second half of the season.
  • Bench - This is difficult for me because they have Malik Rose's corpse in that bench, but if Mason takes better shots, Cubits drives even more and Mad Eye keeps swooshing that sweet j of his, there're not many benches better than ours. If there's any.
  • Coach - Pop vs. No-D'Antoni. I wonder how D'Antoni feels about the man that basically ruined his historic we're-so-fun-to-watch-love-us team and got him fired. If Pop doesn't mess with the rotations, we should win this one on just the coaching skill difference.
  • Intangibles - Historically we do much better after the ASG that before. Considering we weren't too shabby the begin with, considering out start, I think the guys will come out ready to rebuild the momentum we lost in Toronto. And Nate using Chandler as a ladder can't be good the team's chemistry... Just kidding.
  • Mojo - Nate winning in the dunk contest? Tony with the two worst times ever in the skills challenge? Manu snubbed once more? Twin Towers unable to make a half-court shot till Becky saves their asses (not that it isn't a stupid contest, anyway)? Mason missing the moneyball? ...Let's just say I think we got rid of all of our bad karma in the past three days.
  • Winners - Have I ever picked the other team? I doubt it. Definitely not going to today.

Keys To The Game

  • Chameleons - I told Chris that in the past we've matched D'Antoni's pacing when the Spurs faced their would-be-but-not-really nemeses the Suns. Hopefully we can impose our will on this far inferior Knicks team, regardless of the system they use, and slow down the game to a crawl.
  • Scrubs - It's very difficult to win a game when the Big Three are the only one that suit up. If we want to win a championship, Bonner and Mason can't allow themselves to disappear from the box score.
  • Hill - I think George is the man who will take down LeBron and Nate in the 2010 dunk contest. Book it.

Interblogging

So Chris from What Would Oakley Do?, a pretty neat Knicks blog, asked me to answer some questions. I agreed, although I have to admit it's a bit tiresome to summarize whatever consensus we all reach during the game threads or discussing Stamplers' posts. And it's probably boring for whoever reads it.

Next time someone asks Hipuks should reply only with fish pics. Or we could have scrappy (where art thouuuu?) tell one of his tall tales. Or SiMA could just insult their female fans... and somehow win them over with his charm.

He asked me if I wanted to reciprocate, and I said yes without thinking. Considering I've watched a full Knicks game only once this season, it wasn't so easy to come up with proper questions. (I was going to ask for contributions last night, but no one replied to my cries for help. You guys suck.) In the end I stuck with generic questions and our obssession: nicknames.

PoundingTheRock: What did you think of the dunk contest in general, and Nate Robinson's performance in particular? Considering the general negative opinions that contest (and practically every other one) garnered in the blogosphere, how do you see the future of the ASG?

WhatWouldOakleyDo?: As a big hoops fan, I love everything about All-Star weekend. I watch all of it. And, I watch some of it twice. I think that the ASG and its peripheral parts is a phenomenal index of NBA fandom. It's a showcase for the exact sorts athleticism, improvisation and joy that does not exist elsewhere in American sport, including college basketball. Obviously, I'd love it if the All Star Game itself featured tighter defense and looked as fiercely contested as I remember those games from the 1980s. But, I'm still excited every year when mid February rolls around.

Not surprisingly, I thought Nate's performance was top flight. I mean, the guy is about 5 feet and 6 inches tall and flies around with the best of them. Over at WWOD?, I wrote a post detailing each of his four dunks. (ED: Here's the post.) Even the step-ladder dunk that Reggie Miller was critical of during the TNT telecast really impressed me. In fact, I think that could have been the most difficult, albeit the least visually impressive. And, what else is there to say about the little guy jumping over a seven-footer? If we all were blown away when he cleared Spud Webb a few years ago then how can we not be flabbergasted by this? He cleared Dwight Howard! In a single bound!

PTR: What do you think are New York's real chances of luring LeBron in 2010? In case he stays in Cleveland or some other teams signs him, who would be the ideal consolation prize, if any?

WWOD?: There's no doubt in my mind that the Cavs are in the driver's seat when it comes to Lebron. I've gone back and forth over whether I think he is less likely to leave Cleveland or more likely to leave if the club wins a title in either of the next two seasons. I think that he would be most likely to leave if they won this year and then lost in the second round of the playoffs next year. I think he would feel liberated and able to move on free of guilt if he were able to bring this long-suffering city a title. I'd just like that to happen this year rather than as he is entering his free agency so he doesn't feel like he would be skipping out on a dynastic spree of championships.

Again, Cleveland's in the driver's seat. But, I'd like to think the Knicks are riding shotgun and have the best chance of all the other suitors out in the Association. It's not a great chance but it's still very possible. At least until he signs an extension with the Cavs. Thankfully, there are many, many prizes to be won at the fair in 2010. And, I wouldn't call Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire, Dirk Nowtizki, Michael Redd, Steve Nash and Joe Johnson "consolation prizes." The Knicks have been a bottom-feeding team for a few years. It was time to gut the roster and rebuild. Since our rebuilding process coincides with potentially the most dynamic free agent class in the history of the game it makes sense to rebuild through free agency (and the draft) rather than trying to take on players with long-term contracts via trade. Whether or not the Knicks land LBJ the club is being proactive about remaking its future and for this Knicks fans can be hopeful. If we're sending out Steve Nash, Joe Johnson, Danilo Gallinari, David Lee and Chris Bosh in a few years I'll be just fine with my team.

(ED: This is an interesting article from the ESPN factory regarding the Knicks' situation.)

PTR: D'Antoni ball: how's it working for you? The Knicks lost the last three games despite scoring 108, 127 and 124. Do you think it's possible to succeed emplying an offensive-oriented, run-and-gun style? More importantly, is D'Antoni the coach for the post-2010 era?

WWOD?: I think D'Antoni is the real deal as a basketball coach. Down in San Antonio you might feel differently since your club has had his number come playoff time. But, I've been impressed with the way he came into a dire situation and immediately turned things around. The club was humming before trading Crawford and Randolph. His positivity can be frustrating to hear during an interview after a loss but I think that he's got the attention of his players at all times and that is an increasingly rare thing in this business. Just ask Terry Porter. As far as the SSOL style pioneered by D'Antoni, I think it can win championships with the right personnel group and coaching staff. In a relatively short stint as a head coach he created a team that was perennially among the league's best. His offensive scheme gives even a lackluster team like these Knicks a chance to win each night and I think that the rap that he is opposed to defense is overhyped. He's never had the personnel to field a strong defense unit. Steve Nash is a turnstile no matter what. These Knicks are porous as well. I think you can look at the Celtics of last year to see a blueprint for championship defense. Doc Rivers' defense was installed by (former Knicks) assistant coach Tom Thibodeau and anchored by Kevin Garnett on the floor. It was a marriage of the right players and the right coaching staff. With the Knicks roster likely to turnover significantly in the next few years I would also hope the organization keeps an eye out for an up-and-coming assistant coach with a nose for defense. That person could be the most important acquisition the club could make. I don't think you let D'Antoni go.

PTR: How do you beat the Knicks? Who do we have to look out for?

WWOD?: How do you beat the Knicks? Oh, let me count the ways. 1: Defense. 2: Offense. 3: Poise Down the Stretch. These Knicks are capable of beating any team on any given night but there are very straightforward ways to beat them. In the Spurs case, you likely just slow us down. The Knicks lead the NBA in field goal attempts per game and the Spurs need to keep them far from their average and make each possession that much more important. Even if the game stays close throughout, the Spurs would count on superior execution down the stretch to pull out the victory.

PTR: Blatanty plagiarizing Romy Aquino at Hoop Heads North, what are some of the nicknames fans have for Knicks players that the rest of the NBA fans may not know about?

WWOD?: Alas, I don't know that we don't have hidden gems along the lines of Joel Przbilla's nickname in Portland. I refer to Nate Robinson as The Great but I'm going to guess that Krypto-Nate is going to be around for a while. Danilo Gallinari's nickname is "the rooster" but that handle came across the Atlantic with him. Play-by-play guru Gus Johnson has taken to calling Al Harrington by the moniker "Buckets." I once heard someone refer to Jerome James as Jerome "Burger King" James. Which is actually the nicest thing I've heard a Knicks fan say about him. I think the roster turnover and the lowly state of the club has held down the Knickname creativity in recent years.

PTR: If you had to pick five starters from the combined rosters of the Spurs and the Knicks, who would they be?

WWOD?:

PG: Tony Parker
SG: Manu Ginobli
SF: Al Harrington
PF: Tim Duncan
C: David Lee
6th Man: Nate Robinson

(ED: I swear I picked my "edges" before I received this.)

Some other reading

If What Would Oakley Do? is not enough to tide you over till the game starts, here are a few more good Knicks fansites:

KnickerBlogger.net (Part of the TrueHoop network. I don't like the layout much, but it's regularly updated.)
The Knicks Blog (Unimaginative title, but 100% old school blogging.)
Posting and Toasting (SB Nation blog. And that's the perfect name for Matthew's blog, considering the regulars - in case Pounding The Rock goes stale.)

Other things of possible interest

  • Tony's shack - From the Sport Guy's page. Tony is moving to a house he built with Eva and he's selling the one he bought as a rookie. Check it out. He built the pool and the basket court, and they both look amazing.

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This is just sweeeeet

  • Shaq's big mouth - Say what you will about him, but Shaq's interviews are always amusing. Don't miss the bit about Tim - I guess he's one of the few players the Big Robot Dance respects.
  • Go Firefox go - Just a great infographic chart I wanted to share with you. If you're still using IE, you deserve impalement.
  • Let's fix the ASW - This is basically the same discussion between the TrueHoop Network bloggers, but has some worthwhile additions you should check out. Wonder if we'll ever see one of these changes...
  • Hollinger - HollingerTechSpur says the Nets trade can be done. Many quiver in their boots, and we discuss it in this fanpost.
  • SB Nation shoutout - Bright Side of the Sun's Phoenix Stan was able to get some press credentials and live blog the ASW. Don't miss it.
  • Battiernóbili - What a great article this is. Read it - you owe it to yourself. Then check out Graydon Gordian's analysis and discuss it in this fanpost. ...Not that you _have_ to or anything. But you should.
  • Porridge - Oberto has so many skills that don't show up in the box score.
  • Aguante Rudy - Apparently some people thought there was some xenophobia in the dunk contest. I think it's an exaggeration, but the judges were pretty bad and Rudy was hosed. This is worth watching if only to listen to the excitement of the Spanish announcers. Hmm... wonder where you could find a post about the dunk contest... um... Anyway.
  • No kidding - Apparently Duncan shuns the limelight. I'm shocked too. Discuss.
  • Classy eff you - I'm sure you're all familiar with Lance Armstrong. In case you somehow missed it, watch how he deals with a reporter that said he was cycling's "cancer".
  • Because there's more to the web than basketball - Drink up. Lincoln is everywhere, but doesn't get old. Nigerians are tricky.
  • Oh no - Pop has a son.
  • EDIT: Stuff is happening in the NBA. Tyson Chandler was traded to OKC for squat, and Presti is suddenly looking pretty smart. The Kings get Cassell for exactly what he's worth, and Barkley will be returning soon.

    The Hornets received forwards Joe Smith and Chris Wilcox in exchange for their best interior defender.

    The Hornets also received the draft rights to DeVon Hardin, who was selected No. 50 overall by the Thunder in the 2008 draft.

    YET ANOTHER EDIT: Okay, guys, I know, the Obama-basketball connection is getting old. But this is gold.

    Game feeds

    Check this game thead at gametime for specific links to good quality feeds. If you arrive late in the game, there game feed links are usually among the first 50 posts of the thread.

    ATDHE.net
    PPNBA
    MyP2P
    OneNation (This is an archive of NBA games, but it hasn't been updated lately.)
    BitTorrent Davka (A torrent site where you will find most of the latest games in the league. Bookmark.)

    Recap: Someone? Anyone? I remember when people were doing recaps left and right in December... Stampler's triumphant return has led us all to complacency. Sad days.

    Well, that's it. Now we have a few hours to just chill listening to ATS's Radio Paradise. See you at gametime.