Every time I get frustrated with Amar'e I think, "Well, at least we didn't sign this joker instead."

Poise, PnR, and Hot Hot Heat

Before we get to the Heat, I just wanted to mention how impressed I was with the Knicks’ fourth quarter on Monday night.  A home loss to the road-winless Wizards, which would have made their seventh in a row, would have been an absolute disaster.  I’m talking the kind of disaster that can get a player on the court thinking, “Shit, if we lose to these guys…”  They weren’t sharp in the first half, when they tried to burst through in the third quarter Nick Young was utterly indefensible.  Previous Knick teams might have folded up shop, but this one seemed to know the Wizards’ dependence on isolation and perimeter shooting would be their downfall, and kept up the defensive intensity until Washington basically handed them the game with minimal fourth quarter fuss.  I hate to praise the Celtics for any reason, but it’s the kind of game Boston wins all the time, and it’s really what sets them apart in the standings at the end of every year.  That’s the standard of veteran maturity to which the Knicks ought to aspire, and they showed glimpses of it Monday.

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Over the first two games with the Heat, the Knicks have had very little success with the pick and roll.  That’s due in large part to Miami’s active big men – namely Chris Bosh and Joel Anthony – who show hard on every screen and nip the play in the bud.  With Bosh out tonight, however, I think the Knicks can have some success with their bread and butter set, but it may not come from our point guard and center.  Instead I’m hoping for big games from whomever James Jones is defending.

That will likely fall to our two premier catch-and-shoot guys, Danilo Gallinari and Shawne Williams.  When Raymond Felton and Amar’e Stoudemire combine for the PnR, Gallo will set up on the weak side wing.  When Anthony or tonight’s starter, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, shows on the high screen, Amar’e will often slip the screen and head to the basket.  With his man having shown high, Amar’e becomes the responsibility of Gallo’s defender, and that’s likely to be Jones.  That in turn means a skip pass to Gallo should be open.  With LeBron James moving to power forward and likely matching up with Wilson Chandler, it will put Jones to a decision: help on Stoudemire, or close out on Gallinari?

That’s the kind of decision LeBron can make because of his otherworldly athleticism.  But going from LeBron bearing down on you to James Jones is like going from a Kodiak bear to…James Jones.  He’s immobile and he can hardly jump.  Gallinari should be able to exploit him with his height advantage and quick, high release.

I hope you got all that; it’s difficult to put into words, but Sebastian Pruiti of the superlative nbaplaybook.com had a recent post showing the Warriors employing this very strategy with Dorell Wright.  As you can see in the video, which I’ve put in below, it takes a shooter of Wright’s caliber to make LeBron pay for helping on the PnR; the Knicks have the shooters, and with Jones in James’ place, it could be bombs away.

Projected Starters:

PG – Mario Chalmers: Has supplanted Carlos Arroyo as the starter, but the function isn’t all that different.  He’s there to move the ball and spot up from distance, not to penetrate or create.  Can match strength with Felton, but likes to gamble and can get embarrassed on defense, which can take his head out of the game.

SG – Dwyane Wade: Dropped 40 on the Knicks last time – can anybody keep him on the perimeter?  Probably not.

SF – Jones: In 21.9 MPG over 44 games, has attempted 30 two-point field goals.  Still, a deadly three-point marksman at 43%.

PF – James: If he’s serious about going to the post, he should be able to outmuscle Chandler.

C – Ilgauskas: Averaging 12 minutes the last four games, and will give way to Anthony quickly.  Has done a surprisingly good job on Stoudemire defensively.

Lineup Questions: If you were wondering, Erik Spoelstra has confirmed that Anthony will not start tonight, making what’s above tonight’s projected five.  Their five at the end of the game, of course, will likely include Anthony.  Also, Eddie House is expected to play after suffering an ankle injury midweek – he’s 13 for his last 23 from downtown.

One Heater We Haven’t Mentioned: Mike Miller finally had a breakout game, dropping 32 on Toronto on Saturday.  Defensively, you may consider him James Jones redux, but he’s another floor spacer to keep a defender from helping on James or Wade.  And he looks a lot less like a meth addict this year, which is nice.

No Shit, Daryl: “Coaching staff w/great game plan against NYK. NYK spot up shooters more dangerous than Amare. No matter who is guarding Amare, avoid doubling.” – Rockets GM Daryl Morey on Twitter.

So, when Chuck Hayes has 11 defensive rebounds, three steals, two blocks and one foul, and Amar’e has five rebounds, five turnovers and looks like he’s about to cold-cock Hayes, Stoudemire shouldn’t be doubled?  Are you sure?

By All Means, Please Piss off LeBron and Wade at the Garden: Amar’e Stoudemire: “Nobody’s afraid of the Miami Heat.”  In no way do I expect LeBron and Wade to score 40 each because of this.

A Few Good Sentences on: Wilson Chandler.  On Monday Chandler started awful as ever, but his 2007 jumper shortly gave way to the one we’ve all come to love these past few months.  I’ve been adamant that the team cannot win without wing players like Chandler and Gallinari shooting well, so I appreciate that Mike D’Antoni didn’t restrict Wilson’s shots.  The problem, to me, was that Chandler’s shot selection got worse as his stroke got better.  His response to his shooting slump was simply to shoot more often, and from worse positions – although they did start to fall, the philosophy is indicative of his immaturity as a player.  It’s the same reason Chandler gives you once every four nights what you’d get every night from, say, Carmelo Anthony.

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Not much to add here – we took care of the tactics in the intro.  I hate the Heat, you hate the Heat, we all hate the Heat.  So let’s beat them.

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