Last season the Knicks were 1-1 versus the Phoenix Suns. Tonight, the reeling Knicks look to get back on track against Amar’e Stoudemire’s old club at Madison Square Garden.
Here’s what to watch for:
- Coming off a string of pathetic performances, Amar’e Stoudemire has to show up tonight. If he plays a poor offensive game again, the Knicks will likely drop their 4th straight game. The Knicks cannot solely rely on the banged up Carmelo Anthony to carry the offense for a second straight game. His 33 point performance was not enough to overcome Stoudemire’s 22 minute 12 point performance on Monday versus Orlando. This team is built around their two superstars and does not have the depth right now to overcome the consistently poor play by one of them. As long as Stoudemire struggles, this team will be mediocre and inconsistent. I am going out on a limb here, I think Stoudemire will be very good tonight. I think Monday’s performance was rock bottom and tonight he will get back on track and dominate.
- Which mediocre Suns shooter will kill the Knicks tonight? The Knicks love to make people’s careers (credit to my uncle for that saying) and the Suns have plenty of candidates. Will Shannon Brown score 20? Jared Dudley 25? Will the Knicks let Robin Lopez go for 50? The Knicks perimeter defense sucked on Monday versus Orlando and if it sucks tonight I think the Knicks will lose. Defense hasn’t been the Knicks problem this year but with the offensive struggles, this team does not have a great margin for error defensively.
- The Knicks must defend the pick and roll. The one thing the Knicks can’t do offensively is run the pick and roll. The one thing the Suns do very well offensively is the pick and roll. Suns center Marcin Gortat is ranked 3rd in the NBA in points per possession on the pick and roll. Tonight, if the Knicks can slow down the Nash to Gortat connection, they’ll have a good shot to hold the Suns in check defensively.
- Bill Walker is not playing. Mike Bibby and Steve Novak will probably see more minutes tonight because of Walker’s absence.