By Kenneth Teape (@teapester725)
Friday, December 13th, 2013
New York Knicks vs. Boston Celtics
Pre-Game News and Notes
The Knicks were able to win a tough game Wednesday night after two disappointing performances against the Cleveland Cavaliers and these Boston Celtics. The Celtics hammered the Knicks Sunday night by 41 points, so tonight the Knicks will be looking to exact some revenge. Here are some things to watch for tonight as the Knicks and Celtics will top off at 7:30 PM ET in Boston.
-Which Defense Shows Up?
The Knicks put on a good performance defensively Wednesday night against the Bulls, albeit they were without starters Luol Deng, Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose once again. Sunday the Knicks were torched by the Celtics to the tune of 56 percent from the field and 54 percent from the three-point line (14-25). The Knicks were armed and ready with tons of excuses, with the most common one being the Celtics were just knocking down shots and there was not much else they could do. Some people also said the early start caused the Knicks to not be ready, but the Celtics started at noon as well.
Anyone that watched the game could see the Celtics were knocking down shots because the Knicks were letting them. The perimeter defense was embarrassing once again as Jordan Crawford knocked down 6-12 from three-point range and scored at will. The game tonight stats at a regular 7:30 PM ET and it will be interesting to see if the players come out with more intensity as trade talks are beginning to intensify with the Knicks and Raptors surrounded around Raptors’ point guard Kyle Lowry.
Amar’e Stoudemire has been outstanding for the Knicks over the past four games he has played in. He has seen his minutes increase and with it his productivity and energy on the court has risen as well. Stoudemire is averaging 14.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks over his last four games. He is starting to look more comfortable on both ends of the court as he is starting to get confidence back in his jump shot and has had some highlight blocks on the defensive end.
|Kathy Kmonicek/AP Photo|
He played in his first set of back-to-back games Tuesday and Wednesday and will look to do that again tonight and tomorrow. The Knicks had been holding Stoudemire out of back-to-backs earlier in the season because of his knees but a lack of players and the necessity for Stoudemire to play have thrown some of the restrictions out of the window. Stoudemire gives the Knicks their best chance at having an efficient scorer to go alongside the usual volume scoring that Carmelo Anthony does. He was the only player to really show up Sunday afternoon so hopefully he gets some help tonight.
To show how efficient he has been, Stoudemire has taken 37 shots in December and scored 61 points; JR Smith has taken 55 shots and scored 61 points. Keep in mind Smith also played one more game and a lot more minutes than Stoudemire.
-Will Struggles Continue?
Speaking of Smith the Knicks really need him to get going. With trade talks ongoing it seems like a matter of when, not if, Iman Shumpert will be shipped out. Mike Woodson trusts Smith, almost to a fault, and will stick with him throughout the long haul so he has to get things figured out. Tim Hardaway Jr. has a long way to go until he can unseat Smith in late game situations, no matter how well he is playing. Woodson said Smith will be playing in pain the remainder of the season because of the offseason surgery he had but he has to find a way to perform better on the court. He is hurting more than helping often nights as he is scoring only 11 points per game on 32 percent shooting.
Another player who is stuck in the mud is Andrea Bargnani. Since his game against the Brooklyn Nets that he was thrown out of for talking trash to Kevin Garnett, Bargnani has struggled shooting the basketball. In the four games since Bargnani is 16-50 from the field (32 percent). He is even worse from three-point range, going three consecutive games without a make there and shooting only 2-9 over that same stretch (22.2 percent). Bargnani has to score to warrant playing time as his team defense is more often than not very poor. His man-to-man defense seems to be better than advertised by defense is about more than just stopping your man.