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Jan 14 2012; Oklahoma City OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook (0) gets congratulated by shooting guard Thabo Sefolosha (2), power forward Serge Ibaka (9) and small forward Kevin Durant (35) against New York Knicks during the third quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Richard Rowe-US PRESSWIRE

Oklahoma City Thunder 2012-13 Preview: New York Knicks

Thunderous Intentions will begin to preview the 2012-13 NBA season by going through every team in the league and breaking down how they match up with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Be sure to check out the previous matchups we have previewed: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Bobcats, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Hornets.

Richard Rowe-US PRESSWIRE

New York Knicks Team Overview

The Knicks went 36-30 last season and finished as the 7-seed in the Eastern Conference, meaning they would play the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs. That series only lasted five games and the Knicks ended the year feeling like a disappointment again.

It was a roller coaster-like season for the Knicks who began the season with Mike D’Antoni as their head coach and ended with Mike Woodson. They battled a lot of injuries in the season too which made it hard for them to find any kind of chemistry.

The Knicks season peaked during Linsanity when Jeremy Lin went on a remarkable stretch out of nowhere leading the Knicks to improbable win after improbable win. But Lin would be sidelined with an injury for the playoffs and without a point guard, Carmelo Anthony went into total iso mode vs. one of the best defenses in the league and the result was an ugly one.

There was a lot of movement for the Knicks this offseason and most notably the departure of Lin. The Knicks chose not to match the offer sheet that Lin agreed to with the Houston Rockets, letting him walk so as to avoid future luxury tax penalties. Landry Fields, Toney Douglas and Jared Jeffries are among the other key contributors from last year’s team that will be gone.

The Knicks are replacing Lin with Jason Kidd, Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni. Those three bring with them a lot of age and experience but it’s hard to imagine they will truly replace the 23-year old Lin.

Marcus Camby, Kurt Thomas and Ronny Brewer are the other players that will be coming on board next year who could see some solid playing time.

Perhaps the other big story for the Knicks this offseason has been Amare Stoudemire working out with Hakeem Olajuwon on his post game. Stoudemire has become stagnant in his career and had one of the worst years of his life last year which culminated in him punching a fire hydrant. A rejuvenated Stoudemire paired with an Olympic-like Anthony will be necessary for the Knicks to make any serious noise in the East next season.

Last year

The Oklahoma City Thunder played the Knicks once last year on Jan. 14 in OKC and won 104-92. The Knicks were without Anthony and this was a pre-Linsanity meeting.

The Thunder led by 27 after three quarters and 70-47 at halftime. Kevin Durant led OKC with 28 points in 28 minutes. Russell Westbrook had 21 points, eight assists and eight rebounds in 28 minutes. James Harden had 24 points in 27 minutes on 8-of-12 shooting.

The Thunder had their way with the Knicks who didn’t put up much of a fight. The Knicks shot 41.0 percent from the field and went 5-of-19 from three. They also turned the ball over 20 times.

The matchup

The Knicks offense was ranked just 20th in the league in terms of points per possession last season despite having D’Antoni for much of the year.

The Knicks ran isolation plays 16.9 percent of the time thanks to Anthony but were only 17th best in the NBA on those plays. They were in the middle of the pack on spot-up shooting plays (16th) and the pick-and-roll (15th) as well.

The Knicks actually were best in the league from the post but only went there for offense 4.5 percent of the time. Anthony led the way in that department scoring 0.96 PPP.

The Knicks did have the 7th best defense in terms of PPP though largely thanks to Tyson Chandler who would win the Defensive Player of the Year Award. They were 2nd defending the post and 8th vs. the pick-and-roll, two areas where Chandler drastically helped them.

The Thunder were the 2nd best isolation offense while New York was 17th vs. isolation plays. The Knicks were also only 27th vs. spot-up shooting plays, representative of how many poor defenders they had besides Chandler.

Next year

The Thunder will play the Knicks twice next season first on March 7 in New York and then in OKC on April 7.

It is really unknown if the Knicks can improve next year or if they will just have another season battling for the 6-8 seeds in the East. It will be a full season under Woodson and if they can keep with their defense-first philosophy led by Chandler, that is a move in the right direction.

Anthony needs to get to the next level of superstardom for this team to become serious contenders though. He was phenomenal for Team USA in the London Olympics but that isn’t something that will definitely carry over into the NBA next year.

The Thunder should have no problem matching up with the Knicks. The core of point guards are no match for Westbrook and Harden is a matchup nightmare as well.

Durant vs. Melo is fun but it’s really no contest as Durant has evolved into a much better player at this point in their careers.

The presence of Chandler could make a game vs. the Knicks difficult for OKC but the path they are on should mean a few easy wins next year vs. the Knicks.

Tags: New York Knicks Oklahoma City Thunder

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