The Magic are in turmoil. In a somewhat similar situation to what the Knicks went through just weeks ago, the Magic are dealing with an unhappy star and a locker room divided. Hopefully New York will be able to capitalize on Orlando’s dysfunction tonight at the Amway Center.
Coming into the game, Orlando has lost 4 straight games while Dwight Howard has been sidelined with a back injury. Howard will play tonight, but he will likely not be at 100%. New York is coming off a devastating loss to Indiana in which they blew a 15 point 4th quarter lead. This is a huge game for the Knicks as they sit just a game up on the Bucks for the 8th seed in the playoffs. With Milwaukee playing the lowly Bobcats tomorrow night, a Knicks loss would likely result in a tie in the 8th spot. Each of the Knicks next 12 games are huge games. Given Orlando’s plethora of problems, this is a winnable game for the Knicks. They have to take care of business tonight.
Here’s what to watch:
- Will the Magic show up tonight? Last time these two teams faced off, March 28th at MSG, the Magic gave minimal effort at best and the Knicks blew them out 108-86. With the Stan Van Gundy/Dwight Howard drama, there are two things that will happen tonight. Orlando will either play lights out for Van Gundy or they will lay down and allow themselves to get obliterated by the Knicks. Hopefully they lay down.
- Will JR Smith’s shorts be pulled up? There was a great story today by Berman of the Post, about how Mike Woodson wants JR to pull his pants up. Apparently, he believes that Smith’s shorts are too low and “unprofessional”. I fully expect to see Smith’s pants pulled up to his stomach. Just kidding. But that would be awesome/utterly hilarious.
- Oh yea, JR has to shoot well too. The Knicks are much better when JR hits his shots from downtown. He gives them an explosive scoring element that few teams have. Unfortunately, when he doesn’t play well the Knicks offense tends to struggle. Even when Smith is struggling, he’s a high volume shooter which can throw the offense totally out of rhythm. JR will have an athletic advantage over whoever is guarding him tonight and he must take advantage of that.
- Tyson vs Dwight: Round 3. Chandler has won the first two rounds, holding Howard to 20 points and 15 rebounds combined in 2 games. This is heavy weight bout in every sense of the term. Howard is the best center in the league, while Chandler is an elite defensive big man. I think Chandler wins again in this game as Howard is not 100% healthy and will be dealing with the distractions stemming from the Stan Van circus this morning.
- Please Woodson, don’t play Bibby and Douglas together. Against Orlando, Woodson had an absolutely asinine rotation in which Mike Bibby and Toney Douglas were in the game together. It is bad enough that one of them has to play. I’ll probably claw out one of my eyeballs if I see those two in the game.
- Will Woodson remember to play Landry Fields? Against Indiana, Landry Fields had his best offensive game in a long time. He hit 2 threes and scored 15 points. Unfortunately, Mike Woodson “forgot” to play Fields in the 4th quarter when they needed some hustle and some sort of spark. I think Fields will play well again tonight and hopefully Woodson remembers to play him.
- I’ll be doing the post game tonight for The Knicks Wall, so check me out there after the game.