GameThread at 7, be there!
Records: Oklahoma City Thunder (10-2) vs New York Knicks (6-5)
Time: 7:00 PM Central Standard Time
Place: The Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
TV: Fox Sports Network Oklahoma, Madison Square Garden Network
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1), WFAN Sports Radio 660AM
Enemy Blog(s): Posting and Toasting, Knickerblogger, The Knicks Blog, The Knicks FanBlog, KnicksNow, Buckets Over Broadway
Analysis: With the off-season acquisition of Tyson Chandler and Baron Davis, the Knicks were looking to go from Eastern Conference pretender to Eastern Conference contender. Their status as a big market team was enough to lure Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony last season, and they've been steadily stockpiling young talent, like Iman Shumpert, Toney Douglas, Landry Fields, and Bill Walker.
So far, their start has been....interesting. Early in the season, they were off to an atrocious start, and Tyson Chandler was struggling to make an impact. More recently, however, they've actually done a solid job defensively, winning games while scoring under 100 points. I don't think that's happened since the era of Patrick Ewing.
Still, this is a team that faces some challenges this season. They won't be getting Baron Davis for at least a month, and they've already experienced injuries to Tyson Chandler, Iman Shumpert, Amare Stoudemire, Jared Jeffries, and Carmelo Anthony, who will most likely not play tonight. They are also really thin at the backup big man spots, using second round pick Josh Harrellson for the bulk of those minutes. The guy can shoot, but right now he's offering 38.5% from the field, and he doesn't offer much else. Renaldo Balkman and Jared Jeffries also figure to be in the mix for power forward, but that doesn't take away from the fact that the Knicks are lacking a true backup center.
Normally, I'd talk about how the key to the Thunder's success was how well they controlled the pace of this game. But now that Chandler is there, the whole dynamic of the Knicks has changed. They use him as a defensive anchor in the paint, and rotate their defenders around the perimeter. This pretty much limits the effectiveness of guys who drive the lane, but it heightens the effectiveness of Perk/Mohammed's mid-range shot, and it helps out the guys who can knock down open threes in a catch and shoot situation (Cook, Sefolosha).
I'd also venture to say that I'd like to see Ibaka up his scoring tonight. He's only averaging 7.1 points on the season, which is down from the 9.9 he averaged last year. I know Stoudemire has been effective at guarding the mid-range area, but forget that. Just put Ibaka on the other side of the block from Chandler, like where he worked with Real Madrid. Have Perk bounce pass it to him. Have Westbrook challenge Chandler and pass the ball to Ibaka over the backboard. We can easily get Ibaka ten points tonight if we ran some plays for him in that area. And if Perk and Ibaka can combine for 15-20 points, I'd say we'd have a victory on our hands.
Prediction: Oklahoma City 101, New York 95