Monday, April 15, 2013

W2W4: New York Knicks vs. Charlotte Bobcats

Anthony Gruppuso/ USA TODAY Sports

By Kenneth Teape (@teapester725)

Monday, April 15th, 2013

Pre-Game News and Notes

New York Knicks vs. Charlotte Bobcats

Coming off a big win in clinching the second seed in the Eastern Conference yesterday afternoon against the Pacers, the Knicks will get right back at it tonight against the lowly Bobcats and keep building on their momentum into the playoffs.  Tonight’s game could be a hard one to watch as many of the Knicks rotation players are expected to sit out as the Knicks can no longer accomplish anything in the regular season; they just hope to get through this game and Wednesday against the Hawks without any more injuries occurring.  Here are some things to watch for in the game tonight:

-Who Is Playing?

Mike Woodson will get a chance to see who deserves to round out his rotation heading into the playoffs tonight as the Knicks will be without a lot of rotation players.  Starters Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler are both out with a sore shoulder and neck respectively and reserve Kenyon Martin will also sit with knee soreness.  Anthony hasn’t missed a game since having his knee drained so getting him some rest will do some good.

J.R. Smith has not been announced as out, but being the only Knick to not miss a game this season he could use a little breather as well.  Look for Raymond Felton to have his minutes limited most likely as well as he injured his ankle Thursday against Chicago.

Salomon Jones, who the Knicks signed Friday, was released today as the Knicks big men are looking closer to return.  He expectedly looked out of place in his two games with the team, as little practice time makes it hard for him to fit in with new teammates.  The Knicks are expected to sign a player to fill Jones’ roster spot.

One player who may actually make an appearance tonight is Rasheed Wallace.  There is a chance tonight that he will get on the court and get ready for the playoffs after a 15-week absence because of a foot injury.  Getting Wallace back in the lineup would be a huge boost for a Knicks squad that has been ravaged up front with injuries.

-Make Most of Opportunities

With the playoff rotation set for the most part, there are very few minutes to be given to the reserve players as rotations are usually cut in the playoffs as coaches lean towards using their best players more often.  With so many rotation players sitting tonight, Woodson will be using a lot of those reserves and they will have a chance tonight and Wednesday to show why they deserve those left over minutes.

Two people to keep an eye on are Chris Copeland and Steve Novak.  Both offer offensive tools the Knicks can use in the playoffs but struggle on the defensive side of the court and rebounding.  Both players are wildcards heading into the playoffs and will do themselves some good in playing well these last two games.

-Scoring Title up for Grabs

With Anthony sitting out tonight and possibly Wednesday night as well, the scoring title will come down to how well Kevin Durant performs.  Currently, Anthony sits .6 points per game ahead of Durant for the scoring title.  If he does not suit up in either game, Durant needs to score 99 points in his last two games to overtake Anthony or 71 tonight against the Kings to take over the top spot.  The scoring title is the last thing on the Knicks mind, or at least should be, as getting Anthony healthy and ready for the playoffs should be the number one concern.

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