In less than an hour, the Knicks will be facing off against the Brooklyn
Brooklyns Nets in Madison Square Garden. It will be the first time these teams play each other in MSG, so in the words of Terrell Owens: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3SdjqNz85M. A couple of things to watch for:
- The Knicks are coming in a little injured, and by “a little” I mean “battered, beaten and wounded.” Carmelo Anthony will play, after missing the past couple of games with a sprained ankle. (An injury that could have easily been avoided if Dwight Howard wasn’t a moron. Seriously, screw that guy.) Steve Novak is out with the flu, because it’s quite cold outside in New York right now and he forgot to bundle up. Marcus Camby and Rasheed Wallace are out with plantar fasciitis and oldness, respectfully.
- Getting more playing time because of these injuries? Chris Copeland and James White, probably. That should be interesting.
- Having Melo back will certainly help the Knicks, but I’d like to see Woodson keep his minutes down tonight if Melo really looks bothered by that ankle. Or at least not play him the entire second half, like he did the last time these teams played.
- Raymond Felton has had some horrific games against the Nets this year, mainly because he starts shooting long 2s at an alarming pace and trying to do too much off the dribble. I pray to my Festivus Pole that he settles down, doesn’t do this, and attacks the Nets big men of the pick and roll.
- I don’t know if you’ve heard, but the Knicks lost to the Rockets for the second time two days ago. The Knicks had plenty of issues, mostly on the defensive end. They were horrible yet again in getting back after missed baskets, and they gave up an absurd amount of dribble penetrations and easy baskets at the rim. In fact, this has been a trend for the majority of the season. The transition defense should be better simply because the Nets don’t get out and run (they’re currently last in pace, averaging 90.44 possessions a game) however the half court defense will be a major concern. Speaking of…
- Joe Johnson has been playing much better recently, averaging 20.8 pts and shooting 49% over his last five games. The Knicks will probably start out with Jason Kidd on him, which is a favorable matchup for the Nets. Johnson has 6 inches on Kidd, and is 8 years younger. Last time these teams met, Johnson took advantage of Kidd in the post during the first half and drew double teams that had the Knicks defense scrambling.
- As mentioned earlier, the Knicks are thin in the frontcourt tonight. Rebounding will be a big issue, with the Nets having Brook Lopez back, as well as Reggie Evans, Kris Humphries and Andray Blatche. Krazy Eyes Kurt Thomas will likely play some minutes at center, and I will likely throw things during those minutes.
The previous game between these teams was a nail-bitter that the Knicks managed to pull it out due to Melo being engulfed in flames for the majority of the game and Jason Kidd being a 39 year old basketball wizard. However, the Nets were missing Brook Lopez and have him back tonight. Keeping Tyson Chandler out of foul trouble will be important for the Knicks, and having Lopez back will make it much more difficult for Chandler to stay foul-free. This is a game the Knicks can win, and might depending on Melo’s health and Felton’s decision making. Tipoff is a little after 7pm EST. Enjoy!
Follow Dan on the Twitter @thedanstein