|Simmons,Howard/New York Daily News|
By Kenneth Teape (@teapester725)
November 19th, 2013
New York Knicks vs. Detroit Pistons
Pre Game News and Notes
The Knicks head back on the road to take on the new look and much more talented Detroit Pistons than the ones they faced last year. It is a good thing that the Knicks are on the road as they have struggled mightily at Madison Square Garden, dropping five in a row at their home court. This game is almost a must win for the Knicks as it is the first game of a back-to-back with the second game being in Indiana against the scorching Pacers Wednesday night. Here are some things to keep an eye on for the Knicks vs. Pistons tonight as the Knicks look to continue their success against the Pistons, who they have won 11 of the last 12 against.
*Bonus thing to keep an eye on: J.R. Smith vs. Brandon Jennings. The two had a heated twitter exchange earlier in the week as Smith was fined $25,000 for tweets he sent towards Jennings. Now the two will be on the court together and will be interesting to see if they are matched up at all during the game and how it goes if they are. The two were thought to have a healthy relationship prior to this but things seem to have deteriorated now that Jennings poked some fun at Chris Smith, J.R.’s brother, being able to make an NBA team instead of some players Jennings felt were more deserving.
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It is no secret that the Knicks have struggled in the paint without top rebounder Tyson Chandler and that has a very high chance of happening again tonight. The Knicks will have their hands full as the Pistons boast one of the top, young big men combinations in the NBA in Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. Throw in their big free agent signing on Josh Smith and the Knicks could be in for a disaster in the paint and in the rebounding department tonight. Things are already tough without Chandler around but things will be even more difficult without Metta World Peace in the lineup for the second game in a row.
Carmelo Anthony will need to be on his game in the rebounding department as he is the main rebounder now with Chandler on the shelf; like Anthony needed anything more in his plate than he already had. It would go a long way for Andrea Bargnani to get at it on the glass tonight as well as Anthony will need all the help he can get. This is also a game that Iman Shumpert can excel in; he is a very good rebounder for a guard and if he gets the playing time he can stuff the stat sheet tonight against the Pistons. Don’t be surprised if Mike Woodson changes his starting lineup tonight and Kenyon Martin is inserted in there to try and offset some of the advantage the Pistons hold.
-Will Perimeter Defense Show Up?
It is no surprise that two players nominated for player of the week, Atlanta Hawks’ point guard Jeff Teague and Houston Rockets’ point guard Jeremy Lin, both played the Knicks in that time span as the perimeter defense has been a revolving door for the Knicks this season. The problem has been compounded because there is no one behind them outside of about 12 minutes of Martin to cover up for the problem with Chandler sidelined.
This problem, just like the rebounding, has a high chance of continuing tonight with Brandon Jennings manning the point for the Pistons. Jennings has always played well against the Knicks since they passed him up in the 2009 NBA Draft and there is good chance he does that again tonight. Raymond Felton has never been a great defender but dealing with a hamstring injury has made him a leaky faucet on defense. Felton struggles to keep anyone in front of him and a player as talented as Jennings should have a field day against him. The best way to keep Felton out of trouble is to give Pablo Prigioni some more minutes at the point guard. This will enable Felton to slide off ball or even get some much needed rest on the bench. Prigioni is the Knicks best defender at the point of attack and needs to get more minutes.
J.R. Smith has had every opportunity to get on track since his return from suspension and it has yet to happen. Smith has struggled coming off the bench or in the starting lineup, shooting 22.6 percent from the field and 26.9 percent from the three point line. If he is struggling to shoot the ball he is killing the Knicks because he will go out of his way to try and get going. This was most on display last Thursday against the Houston Rockets. Bargnani was having an outstanding game on both ends of the court and oozing with confidence. Smith did not seem to care as he took contested jump shot after contested jump shot, all but phasing Bargnani out of the game as he and Anthony took to the iso-offense. Woodson has to do a better job of reeling in Smith. The Knicks will be most successful when he finally realizes that he is not the second option on this team if they want to win. If Smith just lets the game come to him he can get out of this funk and help turn the Knicks around.
-Offense Getting on Track
The Pistons have struggled to stop anyone this season and if the Knicks are to get on track offensively there aren’t many better teams to do it against than the Pistons. On the season the Pistons are allowing 103.8 points per game, 24th in the NBA and last while allowing teams to shoot nearly 50 percent on the season at 49.8. Anthony has a strong history against the Pistons, averaging 27.3 points on 52 percent shooting his last three contests against the Pistons.
On the flip side, the Knicks will have to continue to hold the struggling Pistons in check offensively. The Pistons are shooting an unsightly 28.1 percent from the three point line, as shooters such as Kyle Singler, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Luigi Datome have struggled thus far this season. The Knicks will be best fit to win tonight if they can keep the Pistons on the perimeter and not allow them to get into the paint where Jennings and Rodney Stuckey can create havoc attacking and Monroe and Drummond can cause some damage around the rim.