7SoM: Webisode 28, Jermaine O'Neal's Defense

Two years ago at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference one of the hot topic essays was on the value of the block. I've forgotten the specifics at this point but Jermaine O'Neal ranked first in blocks at the rim. That's all that happened. That's the end of the story. Now, I know that's not amazing to some of you but you ask one of these stat fellas and that stuff is flippin' incredible isn't it?

In Game 1, JO dominated the third quarter on the defensive end and was the factor in the Knicks' 13 point output. It wasn't just with his four blocks (two of which came in said quarter). Jermaine O'mnipresent made sure all lanes were rerouted and all interior shots contested.

The Knicks have a personnel issue at the non-Amar'e Stoudemire-big position, this we know. Do they roll with defensive-minded Ronny Turiaf or space-'em-out Shawne Williams? Mike D'Antoni opts for the extra offensive weapon traditionally but Game 1 was an exception as Extra E played less than 10 minutes. The result was frequent problems with spacing. Strange as it was to see, D'Antoni sacrificed his offense to match up better with the Celtics' front line. Game 2 should be an eyeopener if he elects to do it again.

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