Mike D’Antoni looks across the court at the Boston Celtics and knows that Shaquille O’Neal is going to lineup at center come Sunday night when the playoff series opens.
He’s countering with Ronny Turiaf, who will start for the Knicks at center in the series, D’Antoni announced Wednesday, according to ESPNNewYork.com.
“Because I think we play better with Ronny on the floor. That would be the reason: We’re a better team,” D’Antoni said.
Go ahead and shake your head at D’Antoni’s decision, but his other options are Shelden Williams and Jared Jeffries. He has no good options. If Willis Reed limps out of the tunnel he might still be D’Antoni’s best choice at this point.
According to Basketball Value, the lineup of Chauncey Billups, Landry Fields, Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire and Turiaf was outscored in the 94 minutes it was on the floor and had a defensive rating of 107.3 (points per 100 possessions). And that is D’Antoni’s best defensive option.
Swap Jared Jeffries in for Turiaf and the defensive rating gets worse (109.8 points per 100 possessions) but the offense jumps dramatically with that unit (16 points per 100 possessions better than when Turiaf is in). Williams seems to be the worst of the three with a defensive rating of 119.8 with that unit.
Look for all three guys to get minutes at center, and look for D’Antoni to look everywhere for lineups that work for him. He’s outmatched and will be forced to try anything and everything.
But for starters he’s leaning defense, and that means Turiaf gets the start.