By Kenneth Teape (@teapester725)
Friday, February 28th, 2014
Pre-Game News and Notes
The Knicks will look to bounce back from an ugly performance against the two-time defending champion Miami Heat Friday night against the Warriors at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks are free-falling in the standings and cannot afford any lackluster performances like they have been putting forth recently. Things will not get any easier for the Knicks tonight as the Warriors are looking to avenge some poor play of their own, getting blown out by the Chicago Bulls Wednesday 103-83. Here are some things to look for in the game tonight.
-Player News and Notes
Raymond Felton is expected to take the court once again even after his arrest earlier in the week. Felton did not use the distraction as an excuse for his poor play Thursday night against the Heat but it is hard to blame him if that is on his mind. Shannon Brown and Earl Clark both played last night, with Brown getting into the game early and looking like he will be part of the Knicks rotation going forward. Mike Woodson called Clark a defensive-minded player when he was signed but he did not see the court until garbage time.
For the Warriors, David Lee will be taking the court against his former team. Lee had missed games because of illness recently, but was able to take the court Wednesday against the Bulls and should be good to go tonight against the Knicks.
-Matchup of the Game: Stephen Curry vs. Knicks Backcourt
Curry went off the last time he visited Madison Square Garden, scoring his career high almost a year ago to the day. The Knicks will be hard pressed to slow down Curry on a regular night with how poor their defense has been throughout the season, especially against opposing guards. Tonight Curry will have extra incentive to play well after having his worst game of the season Wednesday. The Knicks are catching Curry at the worst time; they aren’t playing well and he is looking to get back on track. Raymond Felton will probably start the game against Curry, but it would be smart for Woodson to go to the Toure’ Murry, the superior defender or even a longer player such as Shannon Brown if it starts getting too ugly too early.
-Defend the Perimeter
In addition to Curry the Warriors future another outstanding perimeter player in Klay Thompson. The tandem makes up the best shooting backcourt currently in the NBA and is in the argument for best of all-time according to some people. Without Iman Shumpert the Knicks are sorely lacking perimeter defenders capable of slowing down the explosive twosome; it will take a concerted team effort to slow them down tonight. In addition to Felton and Pablo Prigioni, J.R. Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr. will have their chances to slow them down. No matter how undeserving of the opportunity those players are they will have to do it as Woodson does not have many other options to turn to.
-Will Melo Get Some Help?
Carmelo Anthony has been on a scoring tear for the Knicks recently and they are still losing games. Against the lower tier teams big scoring nights from Anthony could propel the Knicks to victory but not against tougher competition. In his last five games Anthony is averaging 38.8 points per game on 53.4 percent shooting from the field. He has also averaged 7.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.0 blocks and 0.8 steals per game over the same span, doing everything he can to get the Knicks a victory.
For the Knicks to pull the upset tonight at MSG they will need someone to step up next to Anthony. Last night it was Tyson Chandler, but the rest of the team played so poorly offensively that it didn’t matter in the end. Having Smith or Hardaway Jr. knock down some perimeter shots tonight would go a long way in what has the makings to be a track meet. Any positives players like Brown, Clark or Jeremy Tyler, who was surprisingly taken out of the rotation against the Heat, can deliver tonight would help a lot as the Knicks just need something positive to build off of.