Sunday, March 4, 2012
W2W4: Knicks @ Celtics
By Ian Begley
The Knicks have had the last three days off -- which is an eternity in this lockout-shortened season. But their longest break of the year (not including the All Star break) ends on Sunday afternoon when they hit the floor against the Celtics. They've lost five of six against their Atlantic Division rivals and an eye-popping 10 straight in Boston.
Here are a few things to watch on Sunday:
KNICKS' DEPTH: The Knicks' bench scored 50 points in Wednesday's win over Cleveland. Steve Novak had 17 in 17 minutes and Baron Davis had his best game as a Knick, handing out eight assists against zero turnovers.
New York has 11 potential rotation players (including Josh Harrellson) and the challenge is on Mike D'Antoni to keep everyone active. According to the numbers, he's trying his best.
In the past five games (since J.R. Smith made his debut), the Knicks have had nine different players average at least 19 minutes.
Davis and Smith have manned the backcourt in the second unit with Iman Shumpert, Novak and Jared Jeffries on the front line. But D'Antoni used Jeremy Lin and Davis together in a scrimmage on Friday and hinted that the Davis-Lin combo could be used in a game.
THE LIN EFFECT: The last time Lin was in Boston on Feb. 3, the second-year guard was on the verge of being cut by the Knicks. Of course, plenty has changed since. Lin's led the Knicks (18-18) to 10 wins in 13 games and back to .500. The Harvard grad's effect on the court has been undeniable.
In the past 13 games, the Knicks have averaged 103.8 points per 100 possessions with Lin on the floor, according to ESPN Stats & Information. With him off the court, they've scored 90.2 points per 100 possessions.
With Lin on the floor, the Knicks have averaged 16 assists per 36 minutes. With Lin on the bench, that number drops to 12.7. They are shooting 47.5 percent from the field with Lin running the show and just 37 percent with him off the floor.
Lin is averaging 22.1 points and 9.2 assists as a starter (12 games).
NOVAKAINE: Novak has also thrived since Lin took over as a starter. In Lin's 12 starts, Novak's averaged 12.7 points and hit 47.7 percent of his 3's in 22.3 minutes per game. In his first 12 games, Novak played just nine minutes per game, averaging 3.4 points. He shot it well though, hitting 44 percent of his 3-point attempts.