Everything is strong for New York Knicks These days, even their spin parts are bundled with scotch tape.
The Knicks use nine players. Three of them are centers. two of them, Isaiah Hartenstein And the Jericho SimsWe now play together as part of the temporary second unit that appeared then Obi Tobin, the team’s usual backup powerhouse, is down with a leg injury. And now, somehow, this funky duo is hitting the other reserves.
In any other world, this wouldn’t work nearly as well. Hartenstein plays the four on offense, but it’s not like he’s a big guy at heart. Sims, the faster of the two, plays the four on defense, but naturally he’s the five. However, Nix thrives when these two work together.
“I love it. I think it gives you freshness. It gives you size,” said Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau. “It gives you physique.”
The fact is that Sims and Hartenstein should not make an offensive sense. Sims is an edge diver. Hartenstein hits three-pointers, but teams leave him open in the corners. Nix doesn’t use his facilitation skills the same way he does Los Angeles Clippers He did when he was there last season. Usually the two teams with Miles McBrideAnd the Emmanuel Quickly And the RJ Barrett, which means the best three-point killer in the newly formed second unit is Barrett, who’s 30 percent deep so far this season. Defenses live in the paint against them.
But until now, it didn’t matter. The Knicks have a long list of positives from their seven-game winning streak. Well, you can add this duo to it.
Both big men made quick decisions on the perimeter when aided by the defenders. If Sims is in the corner and his man sinks down the lane, he gets a kick-out pass and goes straight to pass the ball with whoever is on the wing, giving the Knicks an advantage: two offensive players in motion. With only one defender to guard it.
The Knicks have made amends, momentum is starting to build and it’s starting to come on defense
But that’s not the main reason why the Sims-Hartenstein duo flock. The defense was stifling. Playing exclusively with McBride and Quickley helps. Sims has become a difference maker to this end. And Thibodeau’s physical cues pay off on both ends. With Sims and Hartenstein in place, the Knicks’ best scoring opportunity was a missed shot.
“I think I, (Mitchell Robinson) and Sims are probably the best offensive rebounders in the league right now, probably all together,” Hartenstein said. “I think we’ve been doing a good job working with each other. So, I think it was fine.”
Do you need an example? Just look at the second of the two games the Knicks played in Chicago last week, when New York eliminated the… bulls On the offensive glass, in part because Sims and Hartenstein couldn’t stop catching up to their teammates’ mistakes.
These two played nine minutes together during their blowout win over the Bulls. Nix only shot 7 of 21 from the ground during that time. They only hit three. However, on those 14 errors, they grabbed seven offensive boards. In just nine minutes.
Knicks grabs 40 percent of the available offensive boards during the limited time Sims and Hartenstein have played together. It turns the offense from treachery to acceptable.
There must be some kind of lingering effect from Robinson, too. Robinson drives NBA in offensive rebound rate. Opposing big guys don’t get a break, because it’s not like he’s out, allowing the other team a few minutes to rest on the defensive glass.
Production like this cannot continue. An offensive rebound rate of 40 percent is the nerd equivalent of dropping 81 points in a game. But for now, anything that could go right for the Knicks is going right.
Here are four more thoughts on the flaming Knicks:
When discussing the best lineups in the NBA, the Knicks starters have to be mentioned.
The numbers are contradictory: 17 squads in the league have played at least 150 minutes this season. New York Appetizers (Galen BronsonAnd the Quentin GrimesBarrett Julius Randel and Robinson) has the fourth best points per possession difference. Only the best profiles belong to Golden State Warriors, whose rookie still eviscerates teams; the Boston Celtics, who are arguably the favorite title; and the Denver NuggetsAnother contender for the title.
During the seven-win streak, the lineup’s success has been extreme. Over these seven games, the Knicks players have been the best lineup in the NBA, and New York leads them. The first unit is plus-59 since the win over Cleveland Cavaliers Who started this heater, easily the best personal in the league during this time. Freshmen outpace opponents by approximately 22 points per 100 possessions.
It was pure domination.
If there’s less than a minute left in the first or third quarter, there’s an inevitability on the way: Emmanuel Kwekley’s 3-pointer pull.
Not only has Quickley been trying two-for-one lately, he’s become addicted to it. No matter what, if the Knicks have a chance to steal an extra possession at the end of the period, they will.
The Knicks like to go two for one. The goal is to get the ball on the rim with about 33 seconds before it goes into the quarter, which will ensure they get their last shot. Quickley buys, but sometimes, it leads to a prayer like this:
The goal of the two-on-one is to time the final seconds of a quarter until your team gets an extra possession. What is seen as a bad shot most of the time is not bad in this context as it creates another opportunity to score. Think of it this way: Two 3-pointers each with a 20 percent chance of hitting have the same amount of expected points as a 40 percent 3-point shooter taking one deep.
But one thing justifies an off-balance jumper that can go in every once in a while and another to throw a Hail Mary shot that might also be a spin. And for whatever reason, Quickley has been transporting a bunch of 3s that look like this lately.
Over the Knicks’ last 12 games, he has tried seven two-for-one games. Five of them were hasty 3s. He missed them all. He missed a buoy and bowled the ball. He was not as persistent as this early in the season.
Going for the extra shot is often good, but Quickley’s jump has been cold up to this point. If he wants to be a diligent two-for-one, maybe he should adjust the way he works.
Walk the line
Last week, Tom Haberstro tweeted the most niche stat in NBA history:
Last night there were 7 travel calls at BOS-LAL, 5 by referee John Goble alone.
When John Goebel was the crew chief, we saw 6.1 travel calls per game. No other crew chief has more than 3.5! Curtis Blair crews almost never name it.
Teams want consistency. pic.twitter.com/yT72RcjKhT
– Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) December 14, 2022
If the name John Goble doesn’t ring a bell, then congratulations, you have more life than me. If so, it might be because you watched him officiate a game for the Knicks recently: that heavy game against the Cavs two weeks ago, which happened to have an NBA-high 13 trips — eight for New York and five for Cleveland.
This was the first win in the current Knicks winning streak.
It’s official: Goebel saved his season.
Can this continue?
At some point, the Knicks will lose a basketball game. But when it does, it doesn’t necessarily mean that cold times are coming.
They have a chance to run, so says the schedule. Thirteen of his next 16 games are against teams under . 500 currently. Ten of those games are in the house.
They are already playing their best ball this season and there is a world to go around when the roster gets tough at the end of January.
(Photo by Hartenstein and Sims: Sam Sharp/USA Today)