Brandon Jennings vs. Chris Duhon
The Knicks give 16 more points per 100 possessions when Duhon is on the court. They score 98 and allow 114 with him per every 100 possessions. Duhon’s PER is 10.5. The league average is 15. Duhon is 6-29 on three point shots this year. Duhon was scoreless in 39 minutes against the Cavaliers on Friday night. Duhon is making $6 million this year and prevented the Knicks from really making a run at Allen Iverson or Ramon Sessions on one or two year deals at below market value for either player. Do I need to say anymore for you to know who has the edge in this match-up?
Charlie Bell vs. Larry Hughes
In his prime, Larry Hughes was a terror in the passing lanes on defense and a slashing guard that could finish at the rim and handle the ball like a point guard on offense. Capable of 20 points and two or three steals a night, Hughes in his prime was the prototypical big point/two guard. Hughes is no longer in his prime. Hughes has never been an especially strong shooter. At this point Hughes is probably as average a starting shooting guard as there is in the league. Fortunately for Larry Hughes, Charlie Bell is a below average starting shooting guard and one with limited size. Hughes should be able to exploit his match-up with Bell and cheat in the passing lanes and get a good jump in the Knicks transition game.
Carlos Delfino vs. Wilson Chandler
I could have sworn Wilson Chandler was really good, I was certain of it. That’s what the D’Antoni system can do for you. Chandler is having an even worse season when comparing offensive and defensive ratings than Duhon. He’s -19! He was better last year at -7, but was still negative and had a PER of 12.9. The Knicks are just one average player after the next. This is the team that wants to get Lebron James? Keep dreaming. I know at some point Chandler has been mentioned as one of the building blocks they’re using to lure James. Wilson Chandler isn’t going to get that done folks. Chandler is a poor three point shooter, but has some upside as a rebounding small forward. He’s like a slightly worse shooting more athletic version of Delfino, but without the occasional ball handling skill. I know you’re as unimpressed as I am. And now I’m certain Chandler will put up 35 and torch the Bucks from all over because A. that’s what happens when I say anyone isn’t good and B. that kind of thing can happen any night with anyone in this system.
Hakim Warrick vs. Danilo Gallinari
Gallinari matches up at the power forward spot, but he’s about as far from a traditional power forward as possible. Gallinari is putting up 9.4 three pointers a game and hitting at 42.6%! Mike D’Antoni has called him the best shooter he’s ever seen and others call him “The Rooster”. To Hakim Warrick I say this, call him whatever you want, just don’t leave him open in transition, because he will burn you with the three point shot. Of all the Knick starters, he worries me the most.
Andrew Bogut vs. David Lee
Lee is probably grabbing a rebound right now. Lee’s a walking double double in this system. Hell, he was a double digit rebounder before D’Antoni came around. Lee is crazy athletic and has a motor that never stops. Lee is exactly the type of power forward I would love to see the Bucks get eventually to pair up with Brandon Jennings. Problem for Lee right now is that he’s playing center and a center he is not. In the half court Bogut should give him all kinds of problems, but he’s without question a superior athlete and will beat Bogut up and down in transition. It’s imperative that Bogut keep Lee off the offensive boards.
Jodie Meeks, Luke Ridnour, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Ersan Ilyasova and Dan Gadzuric
Al Harrington, Darko Milicic, Jared Jeffries and Tony Douglas
The Bucks went ten deep on Friday with no player logging more than 30 minutes. Skiles likes to play match-ups, so expect to see Dan Gadzuric get minutes as the Bucks try and stay with New York’s thoroughbreds. Jodie Meeks also may get significant minutes again after settling down in the second half Friday. The Knicks leading scorer is Harrington, who has been coming off the bench since game three where he put up over 40. Harrington has made a living shooting the three and playing little defense, but is shooting more free throws than ever before this year at nearly eight a game (his career average is 3.3 per game). Harrington may be able to exploit that against the Bucks, but the rest of the Knicks bench offers little in the way of offense or defense.
Prediction: Bucks 95-Knicks 88
95 points constitutes a shootout for this season’s Bucks team. Milwaukee has broke 90 only once this year, but may have to if they want to beat the fast paced Knicks. The Knicks lead the league in three point attempts, but only are connecting (stats as of before Friday night’s game) at a 28.5% clip. That’s not the recipe for success. Scott Skiles will be glad to offer a cursory challenge of the Knicks wild threes, as long as they don’t bring it inside and aren’t grabbing rebounds.