So apparently there is a big game going on tonight in Brooklyn? After having their season opening matchup postponed, due to Hurricane Sandy, the New York Knicks (9-3) and Brooklyn Nets (8-4) will finally have at it tonight at the Barclays Center. Both teams enter tonight’s matchup winners of seven of their last 10 games and atop the Atlantic Division, with the Knicks holding a one game lead. If the playoffs were to begin today, both teams would be among the top four teams in the Eastern Conference and hosting a first round playoff matchup. Obviously, we still have a long season ahead of us, but both teams have come out strong to begin the 2012-13 campaign.
The Knicks enter tonight’s matchup with arguably the NBA’s best offensive attack. They have the league’s most efficient offense (111.5 points per 100 possessions), while scoring the third most points per game in the league (103.4). They rank in the top ten in field goal percentage (46%, eighth), three-point shooting (42%, second) and free-throw shooting (78%, eighth). They commit the lowest turnovers per game (11.2) and have the best turnover ratio in the league (11%). Carmelo Anthony is currently the NBA’s third leading scorer (25.6), Tyson Chandler is once again leading the league in field goal percentage (66%) and Raymond Felton is just outside the top 10 in assists, with his 7.3 assists per game placing him 11th.
However, their defense has taken a deep dive after ranking as the league’s best during the first two weeks of the season. They are still within the top ten in opponents points per game (95.4, 10th) and turnovers forced (16.6, 6th) but currently rank 17th in defensive efficiency (101.2). They are in the bottom third of the league in opponents field goal percentage (45%, 22nd) and opponents three-point shooting (39%, 29th). Rebounding has been an achilles heel for the Knicks all season, ranking 28th in rebounds per game (39.4) despite ranking 10th in defensive rebounding rate (74%).
As for the Nets, they enter tonight’s game with the league’s sixth best efficient offense (104.4) despite their 95.6 points per game placing them 20th in scoring. They are a modest 12th in the league in field goal percentage (45%) but in the bottom third of the league in free-throw shooting (73%, 23rd) and three-point shooting (33%, 23rd). Like the Knicks, the Nets do a good job of protecting the basketball, ranking fifth in fewest turnovers per game (13.7) and tying for sixth in turnover rate (13.1). They also move the ball around well, ranking ninth in assists rate (17.2), helped out by their unquestioned team leader Deron Williams ranking among the top 10 in the NBA in assists per game (8.5, fifth). Also like the Knicks, the Nets could aren’t exactly a model of defense, ranking just under the Knicks in defensive efficiency (101.5, 19th) despite giving up the fewest points per game in the league (91.5). They do a decent job defending the three-point shot (34%, 11th) but overall are just 26th in opponents field goal percentage (46%). They are in the middle of the pack in rebounding (41.3, 18th) but are good on the offensive glass, grabbing 31% of those, placing them seventh in the league.
Round One of Four for The Battle of New York is upon us!