Knicks vs. Nuggets: Keys to New York Springing the Upset in Denver
The New York Knicks face the daunting task of playing the Nuggets in Denver on Wednesday night.
People are so focused on the Miami Heat's winning streak that the Nuggets' streak has flown under the radar. They have won each of their last nine games, and are 19-4 in their last 23 contests.
The Knicks, on the other hand, have fallen victim to the aforementioned Miami winning streak. When that streak began, the Heat and Knicks were tied atop the Eastern Conference.
Now the Knicks are fighting the Pacers for the two seed, both teams sitting nine and a half behind Miami. So they must take advantage of the rest of their games to keep a high seed.
The biggest strength of the Nuggets' roster is the offensive depth. On their roster, they have nine players averaging over eight points per game, but the none averaging more than 17.
The Knicks have the defensive skill to limit the Nuggets on their possessions. New York has allowed opponents to score the seventh fewest points in the league. They do this with many players who are good defenders.
Reigning Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler helps lock things down in the paint. If he is able to limit Denver in getting to the basket for easy shots, that will be hugely helpful.
Iman Shumpert established himself as one of the better on-ball defenders in the league in his rookie season of 2011-12, before tearing his ACL during the playoffs. He has played just 24 games in 2012-13, but he is getting back to his old self. His defense could help limit Denver's leading scorer, Ty Lawson.
The Knicks have one of the better bench defenses in the league, averaging 3.4 steals per game. If their bench can limit some of the bench scoring of the Nuggets, it will put New York in a great position.
The Nuggets are one of the best rebounding team in the league, ranking third in rebounds per game. Their specialty is their ability to grab offensive boards, of which they collect the second most on a per game basis.
The good news for the Knicks is that they are the best team at preventing their opponents from getting offensive rebounds. By being able to stop the Nuggets from getting those second chances, the Knicks' defensive efforts won't go to waste.
The Knicks can take advantage of the Nuggets' biggest weakness: defense.
The Nuggets allow the 25th most points to opponents in the NBA. Without Amar'e Stoudemire, the Knicks might be hindered on offense, but they started the season 21-9 without him. Their other offensive weapons, like Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith.
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