he True Fans Bleed Blue and Orange: Knicks Head West With Chance to Inch Closer to Raptorsh

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Knicks Head West With Chance to Inch Closer to Raptors

The Past:
It's been quite awhile since the Knicks have had a five game stretch like the one the Knicks just lived through. The Knicks were up against the Utah Jazz, the third best team in the West, with only eight players, following the infamous brawl. Much like I said in my article, the Knicks pulled together for a heart-filled overtime victory against the Jazz. Next the Bobcats came to town. The Cats were without two of their better players, point guard Brevin Knight and forward Sean May, but nevertheless the Knicks were equally short-handed and after a miraculous David Lee tip-in the Knicks won their second straight game. Next came the surging Bulls. The Bulls had won five straight games and 12 of their last 13 heading to the Garden, which is why the Knicks's eleven point victory was that much sweeter. The Knicks then hit a brick wall against the 76ers who were energized because it was newly acquired point guard Andre Miller's first game as a 76er. On top of that the Knicks were more than winded playing their fourth straight game with 8-9 players, and the 76er game was the second of a back-to-back. So, as Walt Clyde Frazier said we should just "86" that game, and not worry about the negatives and look onward. Onward came another surging team, the Detroit Pistons. Then again, the Pistons are always surging. Anyways, the Pistons had won five straight games, and seven of eight. However, these new Knicks found the Knack against the Pistons, and would not quit. Showing hard work and hustle that would of made the 90's teams proud. After an incredible triple overtime game the Knicks came out victorious, and had their confidence as high as the sky. Now that the Knicks have solved their home trouble (winning seven of their last ten games at "the mecca") they will go back to the road for five games, which was the only place the team could buy a win the first month of the year.

Upcoming games:

The Suns, Clippers, and Kings highlight the next five games, along with Portland and the Sonics. I will preview the next three games right now, and the final two games following the completion of the first three games. This is because I don't want to leave my readers without new posts for nearly 10 days, and news changes and some information may be wrong by the time the fourth and fifth games come. Lets start with the Suns.

The Suns look to be an elite team this season, recently ending a franchise best 15 game winning streak, and with the best offense this league has seen in awhile the Suns are always a threat to win. But since the Suns are such a threat with their run and gun offense they also threaten themselves during back-to-back stretches. The Suns record during the second of back-to-back games is a mediocre 3-3, and they also score a handful of points less than they normally do. As you might of guessed by now, the Suns played Thursday night against the Mavericks. A shockingly similar game the Pistons played against the Nets the night before the Knicks played Detroit. The Suns lost by two to the Mavs in the final seconds, and left heart-broken. Leaving the perfect chance for the Knicks to strike. However, the loss can backfire and anger the Suns, and force them to take out their anger on the Knickerbockers.

Next up the Knicks will play the struggling Clippers. A Clippers team that has been rumored to be moving GF (no not girlfriend) Corey Maggette to the Kings (a team the Knicks will later play) for Ron Artest, which can't be good for team chemistry. To boot veteran point guard Sam Cassell is declining and will most likely miss the game, as Shaun Livingston continues to prosper in Cassell's place. The Clippers, a marvelous story last season, outplaying the Lakers, have been lackluster this season. With a record of 12-16 and in last place the Clippers are searching for answers. The Clippers score only 95.5 points a game (18th in the league), compared to the Knicks' 100.1 points a game bodes well for the Knicks. The Knicks allow about two points higher than they average, while the Clippers allow three more points. 11 of the Clippers 16 losses this season have come when the opposing team scores over 100 points. Of the 12 games all season when their opponent scores over 100 points the Clippers have won only once. Showing that the Clippers need to play defense and can't afford to get into a shooting contest. Proving to me that the Knicks need to run and gun and tire out the Clippers early, and run up the score. The Knicks are very good at high scoring games, considering on average both teams in their games score over 100 points. One thing working against the Knicks is the Clippers struggles have mainly come on the road, as shown by their dreadful 2-10 record. However, the have played well at home to the tune of a 10-6 record.

Thirdly the Kings will be facing the Knicks for the first time this season with the "new" leather ball. In what promises to be a sloppy game the Knicks will play the Kings who are lead by Kevin Martin. Martin leads the team in points, field goal percentage, free throw percentage, and three point percentage. Martin's 21.7 points per game makes him one of the better young players in the league, however the Kings seem to depend on him a bit too much. When Martin scores 15 points or less in a game they are 2-5 (counting one game where he did not play), compared to their 10-9 record when Martin does play. The Knicks will need to focus on stopping the 23 year old. However the Kings have other options with point guard Mike Bibby and flamehead Ron Artest. Bibby is averaging 16.5 points a game and 6.0 assists, and whenever Bibby scores 20+ points the team is an impressive 6-2. As I mentioned earlier Artest is reportedly unhappy in Sacramento, and Corey Maggette may be there by the time the Knicks arrive, but right now Artest is still on the Kings, which makes them a much more complete team. Artest's lock down defense will shut down whoever the Knicks have at small forward, which may make it a good idea to start Jared Jeffries, even if Quentin Richardson is healthy. The Kings have lost nine of their last thirteen games, and are struggling to find the identity that pushed them into the playoffs and into a surprisingly competitive series with the Spurs from last season.

What will the Knicks need to do:

As for the next three games the Knicks will need to win at least one game, which is easily in the realm of possibility. However, it is more than possible to win 2-3 games and head Seattle and Portland with high heads. Nevertheless, the Knicks will need to survive the harder three games with their heads held high, and still within reach of the Raptors. As for the Raptors during the three game stretch the Raptors will play only twice, against the Bulls at home on Friday and against the lowly Grizzlies on Saturday in Memphis. However, the Grizzlies are now a better team with Pau Gasol, and usually when a coach is fired a team gains a small spark and plays better for their new coach for a few games until reality sets in. One can only hope.


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