Last season the Knicks were 1-1 against the Jazz. In their only post-Melo trade meeting, the Knicks dominated the Jazz 131-109 at the Garden. Tonight, Jeremy Lin will make his first career start coming off his unbelievable 25 point performance against New Jersey Saturday night. Unfortunately, Amar’e Stoudemire suffered a tragic loss this morning when his older brother, Hazell, was killed in an early morning car accident. Stoudemire has taken an indefinite leave of absence and will not play tonight.
Here is what to watch for:
- Linsanity! The asian-sensation, Mr Shao-Lin himself, Jeremy Lin will make his first career start tonight. Iman Shumpert will come off the bench for the Knicks. It will be interesting to see what Lin can do tonight against a stout Jazz defense. Unlike the lowly Nets, the Jazz boast a strong defensive front court featuring center Al Jefferson and power forward Paul Millsap. Check Dan L’s latest post at Knicksfan.net for more details.
- It is absolutely tragic what happened to Amar’e Stoudemire’s brother, Hazell, this morning. I understand, as should all of you, that basketball is secondary to life. While not perfect timing for the Knicks, I believe Amar’e should take all the time he needs to mourn with his family and he should come back when he is ready to play. That being said, this is a basketball blog and so we will discuss basketball. Stoudemire’s absence will greatly hinder the Knicks tonight against one of the best front courts in the NBA. Jared Jeffries will start in his place. The Knicks need other players not named Carmelo Anthony to score tonight in order to make up for Stoudemire not being there. I think we could see some of Jerome Jordan tonight. The 7 foot Jordan gives the Knicks a far better chance of slowing down Utah than would going small with Renaldo Balkman playing the 4.
- Something that hasn’t been talked about, but lets pay attention to Melo’s conditioning. I think his conditioning has been off the past couple games as he was ineffective in the 4th quarters against Chicago and Boston and he was ineffective the entire 3rd game against the Nets. It will be interesting to see how he plays tonight now that he has had a day off to rest. CJ Miles, Gordon Hayward and Josh Howard are good players but they cannot hang with Melo. Maybe Raja Bell may draw the assignment of trying to guard Melo but I don’t like his chances either.
- Tyson Chandler vs Al Jefferson. A great defensive center against a quality offensive center. This should be a fun matchup. Chandler has played up to his contract this season and has played well against good centers. Most notably is when Chandler kept Dwight Howard from doing much in the MLK day game at the garden versus Orlando. I am interested to see what kind of defensive job Chandler can do against Al Jefferson, who averages 18.5 ppg and 9.2 rpg. In order for the Knicks to win, Chandler will also need to score 15-20 points.
- Utah’s bench vs Knicks bench. Oh boy… With Stoudemire out, the Knick bench will need to step up tonight. We know the effort Shumpert will get but it is unknown what the Knicks will get out of Walker, Balkman and maybe Jerome Jordan. Lets see what Jordan can do against some very good competition in Al Jefferson. The Knicks need to get a good showing out of their bench tonight or else they’ll be in trouble.