You may be familiar with ESPN.com’s 5-on-5 roundtables, which feature opinion and analysis from ESPN writers and TrueHoop Network contributors on pressing NBA topics. Along with other THN blogs, Cowbell Kingdom has brought that format to the local level in the form of our own 3-on-3 roundtable.
Poor transition defense killed the Kings in their 108 to 98 defeat to the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night. The Kings were outscored 33 to 14 by the Bulls in fastbreak points in their second loss of the season. It’s cause for concern, especially with the run-and-gun New York Knicks making their lone visit tonight to Power Balance Pavilion this season.
Today, Jonathan Santiago is joined by John Kenney, blogger at Knickerblogger (the Knicks ESPN TrueHoop Network affiliate), and Blake Ellington, editor of Bleed Black and Purple, in a roundtable discussion before this New Year’s Eve matchup between the Kings and Knicks.
1. After three games, what are your initial impressions of the team you cover?
John Kenney: The Knicks’ offense flatlines too often to consistently win games. They are also about as deep as a kiddie-pool. Losing Iman Shumpert and Jared Jeffries in the opener means any player with two working knees will see a lot of court time until JJ and Shump-Shump are healthy.
Blake Ellington: The Kings are exciting, but excitable at the same time. When the offense and defense are clicking, the team’s energy is infectious, but they are easily rattled when things go south. The minute shots stop falling or their opponent goes on a quick run, the offense reverts to one-on-one basketball and lapses on the defensive end occur.
Jonathan Santiago: Let me start by saying that three games into a compressed schedule is still too early to make any final judgements on either team. But as of right now, it’s taking a long time for the Kings to initiate their offense. The players say they grasp its principals, but execution has been a completely different story.
2. Biggest takeaway from the last game played by the team you cover?
John Kenney: Amar’e is really out of sync right now. Additionally, he twisted his ankle and isn’t playing in the game tonight. Injury concerns about Amar’e are usually overblown; I’m more concerned that he can’t buy a shot near the rim.
Blake Ellington: The Kings must work on their transition defense. It is tough to win in this league when you give up 33 fast-break points. Derrick Rose knifed through defenders in the open court while the Kings did little to stop him the entire game.
Jonathan Santiago: How poorly the Kings shot free throws. They missed 14 free throws against Chicago and lost to the Bulls by 10 points.
3. Tonight, the stat of importance for the team you cover will be…
John Kenney: Assists. No Knicks player averages over four assists. This is extremely problematic. (Although I assume Kings fans know this already.)
Blake Ellington: Assists. The Kings only managed 11 assists in the loss to the Portland Trailblazers and 13 in the loss to the Bulls last night. Sharing the ball needs to be a key focus when they take on the Knicks tonight at Power Balance Pavilion.
Jonathan Santiago: Free throw percentage. At 60.4 percent, the Kings currently rank last in the league in free throw shooting this season. They can’t let the easiest aspect of the game cost them wins.