By Dan Groob, TiqIQ
While the New York Knicks have generated all sorts of buzz this season, it is the San Antonio Spurs who have yet again quietly gone about their business and enter tonight pacing the NBA in wins.
The Spurs have rattled off six consecutive victories, and sit atop the Southwest Division with a 25-8 record. Forward Tim Duncan appears to have set foot inside the rejuvenation machine for his age-36 season, averaging 3-year highs in points, rebounds, blocks, and field goal percentage. Duncan’s 2.5 blocks per game are the most he’s registered since the 2004-05 season, good for 5th in the NBA.
Duncan anchors a Spurs defense that ranks in the top 10 in nearly every major defensive category. His flawless defensive rotations and shot blocking presence in the post have allowed young wings Danny Green and Kawai Leonard to play tight on the 3 point line, catalyzing their development into two of the league’s premier perimeter defenders. Green has spent roughly one-third of game time this season guarding the opposing small forward, and has held his counterpart to a 10.5 Player Efficiency Rating—production 30% below league average. He will have his hands full in this matchup with MVP candidate Carmelo Anthony, whose PER of 26.7 ranks behind only LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
Knicks fans are looking forward to this revealing test against the best of the West. According to TiqIQ, the average ticket price on the secondary market for this rematch of the 1998-99 NBA Finals check in at a whopping $570. This doesn’t come as much of a surprise though, as Knicks tickets are the single most expensive in basketball at an average of $330. Significantly higher than the average for Spurs tickets, which is only $84. Check out other NBA Tickets on the primary market.
The Knicks themselves head into Thursday night’s battle of division leaders having registered back to back losses for only the second time this season, after falling at home to the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday, 105-100. Although Portland led wire to wire and by as many as 19 points, Anthony kept the Knicks in the game down the stretch by tying his season high with 45 points in his return to the lineup from a minor hyperextension of his left knee. J.R. Smith aided the cause with 28 points of his own; his fourth consecutive game with 25-plus.
Also returning to the lineup for the Knicks on Tuesday, albeit from a more serious left knee injury was All-Star forward Amare Stoudemire. Limited by a strict minutes count, Stoudemire showed some rust in his 17 minutes on the floor. Registering just 6 points on 3 of 8 shooting, Stoudemire’s impact was neutral at best, as he looked slow on defense and his two turnovers matched his combined output in rebounds, assists, blocks, and steals.
While Anthony and Smith combined to go 9-for-23 from behind the arc on Tuesday night, the rest of the team shot an abysmal one-for-14. The last time these two teams met back down in San Antonio on November 15, the reverse was true. The supporting cast led the Knicks to a 104-100 victory, with minimal contribution from Anthony. Green and Leonard lived up to their billing as wing stoppers, holding Anthony to 9 points, his only output below 20 this season.