After a two off days, the 12-4 Knicks return to action as they head down south to North Carolina to play the 7-9 Charlotte Bobcats tonight. The Knicks are coming in a little banged up at the point guard position, with bulldog/duck/point guard Raymond Felton expected to start after acquiring a bruise on his left hand in the Knicks win over the Suns on Sunday (puns!) and Jason Kidd expected to come off the bench after dealing with back spasms that kept him out of the past three games. A couple of things to watch for:
- The Bobcats play at the sixth highest pace in the league. The Knicks play at the third lowest. As with almost every game, the point guard are going to have to slow down the tempo and keep it under control. Moreover, the Knicks are going to have to deal with the athleticism that the Cats’ have. Kemba Walker is lightning quick, and stopping his dribble-penetrations will be key. Second overall pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is a dynamic wing who has defended very well this year and can also fly. In the frontcourt, Bismack Biyombo stands out athletically. He averages 1.6 blocks per game, can get them in bunches.
- As mentioned earlier, Jason Kidd will be coming off the bench. It will be interesting to see if he can help get the defense back on track by doing his veteran, Jason Kidd-things. His return should also let Woodson play around with his backcourt combinations, and have potentially have more of those 2-point guard lineups that have been working very well for the Knicks this year. And finally, and maybe most importantly, Kidd said that he will not be wearing the headband. Thank goodness. It’s as if Basketball-Hanukkah has come early this year.
- SHEEEEEEEEEED. Rasheed Wallace played only 85 seconds on Sunday after getting ejected with two technical fouls. Sheed should be well rested and
ready to pick up more tech’s ready to play smothering defenseready to launch more regretful three pointers. Without Marcus Camby (plantar fasciitis) Sheed will likely be the first big man off the bench and have to play some important minutes.
- Felton will be wearing a pad on his left hand, and I expect him to be fine. After all, he did launch up a falling away three-pointer on the possession immediately after hurting his hand. Bulldog gonna’ bulldog.
- Bobcats center Byron Mullens is 7″0, 275 lbs and he averages 5.3 three point attempts a game. He averages 1.5 makes per game. This is hilarious.
- Finally, Ben Gordon has been on fire lately. He’s made 18 threes in his last three games. I think that’s a lot. Yeah, it’s a lot. The Knicks are going to hope he cools off and make sure they stay with him out on the perimeter.
And them’s be the things to watch for. The Knicks should win this game, and make sure they don’t look past it with their showdown against the Heat happening tomorrow. Tip off is a little after 7 PM ET.