I never thought that I would see the day that I used Jeremy Lin puns, but it’s come upon us.
Though I have been a proponent of Jeremy Lin during his escalation into fame, I have also been one to point out his flaws. I’ve even written a defensive blueprint on how to stop Lin from flourishing.
Keeping an objective perspective on this story is truly one of the most difficult things to do as a writer. I’m sure that a lot of you can relate to that. This has been such a magical story that it’s really hard not to root for Lin. With that being said, I’m going to bring objectivity to the table here and go over the schematics of his game earlier today.
Lin played well against the Dallas Mavericks today. He finished the game with 28 points, 14 assists, five steals, and seven turnovers in a whopping 46 minutes played. It’s incredible that Lin has been able to hold up like this while only playing under 30 minutes once since emerging as New Yorks diamond in the rough vs the New Jersey Nets. That game came last week when the Knicks played the Sacramento Kings. Obviously, he hasn’t gotten much rest throughout this run and the Knicks have still won eight of their last nine games.
The story wasn’t any different on Sunday after the Mavericks game as the New York Knicks won 104-97. Coming off of his worst game as a starter, Lin showed us more of his moxy coming back and having what I believe was the best game of his career.
There had been talk about how the Hornets scouting report exploited his weaknesses. The knock on Lin would be his inability to work from his left the same way that he does with his right, which is a commonality in most players, and that he couldn’t shoot. As a defender you are free to go under the screen or initiate a trap depending on what the game plan was.
The Mavericks came out trapping hard on the first offensive possession for New York. They wouldn’t let up with the trapping either. Even if it was a less intense trap(!) they were still trapping. I believe that it did rattle Jeremy when the game first started. He repeatedly lost his dribble but faced no consequences for it as he either recovered the ball or the referees bailed him out with a call. At the end of the first half the Knicks were up and Lin had 12 points and six assists. The Knicks were in excellent position as they had multiple counters for the Mavericks game plan. J.R Smith and Landry Fields were making plays off the dribble for New York so they could afford for the ball to be out of Lin’s hands.
The 2nd half was a different story. Lin had ended the first half with only one turnover that happened at the end of the buzzer in the second. The Mavericks had then gone on a run; Dirk was hot. He had 11 points in the third quarter alone and assisted on two other scored. I believe this led to Jeremy Lin’s 3rd quarter turnover relapse. He usually accumulates his turnovers late in the game because of him playing excessive minutes, but I believe that he was truly forcing plays today. That along with fatigue created 3 turnovers in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter is when the Knicks took the game over again. Steve Novak came off of the bench and gave 14 fourth quarter points; J.R Smith also came in and contributed off of the dribble once again. But the show was all Jeremy Lin’s–after airballing an early three point attempt of the game Lin went three of six from beyond the arch including a three over the long arms of Dirk Nowitzki. He finished the game with 28 points but more importantly 14 assists.
Lin finished with 7 turnovers; there were some that could’ve been avoided with his teammates help though. Locating the ball when your teammate is trapped was key, and the Knicks simply didn’t do that. I don’t think that the turnovers are something that we should obsess over though. They are going to come when you play 46 minutes in a game. You can’t be perfect with your ball security when you’re fatigued–also when you dish out 14 dimes it kind of makes up for the turnovers.
He made key plays down the stretch including a steal and that three point attempt that I talked about earlier. So my question now is how would you guard Lin now? He obviously can shoot the ball, and the trap isn’t bothering him enough to where it’s stopping him from making key plays.
At this point it seems that you can only keep throwing traps at him and take away his passing lanes. Make him a scorer, but don’t let him get his teammates involved. Down the stretch don’t be surprised if teams start to get more physical with him. The Hornets seemed to take that approach and it worked; when you factor in fatigue with that it could really frustrate him. If you can get into his mind it will disrupt his game.
If you have any other ideas, though, I’m all ears.