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I think back on the playoffs last season and come to this realization. The Wizards and Bulls matched up pretty good at the wing positions, both teams were pretty lame at the power positions (PF/C), and the series basically came down to the Wizards big 3 being enough better than our wings.

This season, and I can only judge by the 6 games so far, we have the same issue, if not worse because of the absense of AD (Curry too, but he was out for the playoffs...).

So when we match up with a team that is strong at the PF/C position and has good wings, we logically should get beat. This is what we saw at Golden State and against San Antonio.

The team we play against doesn't have to have superstars at the PF/C positions - Troy Murphy is plenty good enough to make the difference.

It seems to me that we're going to see a lot of Utah-like games, where a PF/C type you figure is good for 10 points is going to have a career night. If we play even at the wing positions, we're not going to have a good time of it.

The good news is that the lack of a big presence in the middle has opened the lanes for our guards and for Deng in particular. The more we attack the basket, the closer the games have been.

The bad news is that the roster is rather poorly put together. It doesn't give Skiles the flexibility to go with a big enough lineup when it is required. I'm quite surprised we aren't going with three guards for almost the whole game, as this has been the secret to our recent success. And it's the idea of putting your best 5 players on the floor, who happen to not be very big.

Golden State is a tough matchup for us. I don't see either of our starting guards or even Gordon starting for that team. So they beat us on the wings.

But there's always the Nocioni factor. When he's in the game, guys like AK47 go out :)
 

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This is why all the declarations that Sweetney is as good as Curry are fool's gold, IMO. Even if he is equally productive, there is tremendous value to being able to go with size out there. The net effect of the Eddy trade is that Chandler has to play C for you guys, and none of your remaining PF's is a defensive stopper. Better to have a weaker defender at C, where opposing teams will be less likely to have a big offensive threat, than to have one at PF.

Strange as it may sound, I think the solution might be to keep chandler at PF and play Sweetney or Songaila at C. PF is the premier offensive front court position in the league these days, and it's important for any team to have a strong defender there. The Knicks didn't last year, (no, Kurt Thomas can NOT guard most starting NBA PF's) had this same problem and it seemed like every opposing PF would put up 25/10 against us.
 

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Me lose brain? Uh oh!
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I think we miss AD more than we thought we would. He had limitations, severe limitations even, but he could be relied upon to do a decent job on the defensive glass, provide solid interior defense, and take the hard foul on a guy who got into the paint on penetration. I think he also had a good rapport with Curry and Chandler and helped them play better help and interior defense than they would without a smart veteran next to them. And occasionally he'd save the team's bacon by knocking down that elbow jumper all night when nothing else would go down.

He also was big enough to guard the centers we see on the average night (though not Shaq/Yao/Z of course). Our stable of PFs right now can't do as good of a job with that as AD did. Obviously we miss Curry in this sense too. He had some horrendous lapses on defense, but he could put a big body on the other team's center and get people into foul trouble. His help defense also showed signs of life at times last season.

I like our wing players' chances on most nights. Last night GS played better defense than they usually do (heck, they almost never play defense like that) and we were absolutely ice cold from the floor. It happens - we have streaky shooters and we're gonna lose games if they ALL go ice cold from the floor at once.

I hope Pax finds a way to fortify our front line with another credible option at center, but I'm not sure what's out there that makes good sense.
 

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I think, as a team, they expected to struggle when Curry was traded to the Knicks. Personally, I am quite happy with our current team being at 3-3 and playing aggressively. We weren't going to contend for the championship with Curry anyway this year. I am ok with having a decent year (defined by making the playoffs) and dealing our problems in the offseason with 2 picks and lots of capspace. Sweeney can never replace Curry. Curry is 6'11 while Sweeney is only 6'8 or near 6'7. It is not a question that Paxson and Reinsdolf decided to take the safe route by trading Curry. So far, it seems like a good trade. Curry has been pretty normal and the same can be said about Sweeney. It's certainly easy to say that with Curry, we would be at 5-1 or 4-2 now instead of 3-3 but the Knicks are 2-5.
 

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PD said:
I think, as a team, they expected to struggle when Curry was traded to the Knicks. Personally, I am quite happy with our current team being at 3-3 and playing aggressively. We weren't going to contend for the championship with Curry anyway this year. I am ok with having a decent year (defined by making the playoffs) and dealing our problems in the offseason with 2 picks and lots of capspace. Sweeney can never replace Curry. Curry is 6'11 while Sweeney is only 6'8 or near 6'7. It is not a question that Paxson and Reinsdolf decided to take the safe route by trading Curry. So far, it seems like a good trade. Curry has been pretty normal and the same can be said about Sweeney. It's certainly easy to say that with Curry, we would be at 5-1 or 4-2 now instead of 3-3 but the Knicks are 2-5.
I have to agree here. And to be honest, while the playoffs are a great goal, I sort of think it would only be for the sake of seasoning. Getting the 8th seed and having Ben Gordon matchup against a playoff-crazy Dwyane Wade or approaching a seven game series against Shaq... that's experience you can't get in the regular season. I almost wish we played series like they do in baseball so that there could be some closer approximation to playoff play.

I mean, we lost our starting PF and C. That's HUGE. 50 mpg in the frontcourt that we're replacing with guys we thought would be backing them up. Another way to look at it is to consider AD and Curry injured for the season. That kills us! If we come even near 42 wins it would be incredible.

But looking at our draft picks and the cap space, I think we can make significant upgrades next year, pieces that aren't just filling minor holes like this past offseason (and I think Pax honestly wanted to make sure Curry knew that he was their first option, and didn't pursue other bigs that might have been good, although there weren't that many in the first place).

I am, by no means, for tanking the season, but I'm hungry for Shelden Williams to be in a Bulls uni. He's the kind of guy that would take very little adjustment (Duhon, Deng's Dukie connections will help a lot), while he's also the sort of guy that would make a big impact on both ends of the floor.

I'd also like to get Josh Boone, a tall hustle guy from UConn that will defend big men and play smart on the floor. I think he's going to explode this year at Conn and probably be next year's Channing Frye.

Getting a young, tall European stiff in the 2nd round or maybe looking for a collegiate center (Paul Davis on Mich. State or Matt Haryasz from Stanford or someone like that) would be the way to go. I don't know that there's a marquee signing waiting for us out there, but if there is, we use our cash on that.

Boone and Shelden, along with Tyson and Songaila and Othella, will help replace the void left by AD and Curry.

Duhon/Hinrich/Pargo
Hinrich/Gordon/Basden
Deng/Nocioni
Shelden Williams/Mike Sweetney/Darius Songaila
Tyson Chandler/Josh Boone/Malik Allen
 
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