By Kenneth Teape (@teapester725)
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Portland Trail Blazers vs. New York Knicks
The Knicks and Trail Blazers will go up against each other for the second time this season tonight at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks will be looking to exact some revenge on the Blazers, who beat the Knicks earlier in the season 102-91 at the Rose Garden in Portland. The Knicks are currently riding a two game losing streak and could use a win in the worst of ways. With things starting to look bleaker and bleaker for Head Coach Mike Woodson after yet another player called him out this past week changes could be on the horizon for the Knicks. If Woodson wants to save his job putting forth the necessary changes tonight to get a victory over a strong Blazers team would be a good start. Here are some things keys to the game tonight between the Knicks and Blazers.
The Knicks are relatively healthy right now, something that hasn’t happened much this season. But they will still be without a key piece tonight in Kenyon Martin. Martin returned from his ankle injury Saturday but will not be able to get on the court tonight against the Blazers. Martin hasn’t stayed healthy all season and the soreness that keeps popping up will continue to put him in suits on the bench.
Beno Udrih has already missed five straight games with what the Knicks are calling an ‘illness’ and his status has not been updated since. It is likely that he will miss a sixth consecutive game but it is looking more and more like a coach’s decision than an illness.
The Blazers have no reported player injuries and will have their full allotment of players to use Wednesday night.
-Woody’s Last Stand?
With Amar’e Stoudemire joining the list of players to call out Woodson about how he makes decisions coaching, this may be the last chance Woodson has to save his job. Stoudemire has voiced his displeasure with how he is being used recently, saying its Woodson, not doctors, that are keeping him from seeing the court. Stoudemire is currently playing a career-low in minutes per game at 18.9 aside from his injury riddled 2005-2006 campaign when he got in only three games. Stoudemire says he feels great and wants more minutes. It is up to Woodson if he feels Stoudemire can help this team out; at this point Woodson needs to break his character and start using the players that produce results not that are paid the most.
If the Knicks lose tonight to the Blazers it would give them a three-game losing streak following a four-game winning streak. That kind of inconsistent consistency is something that gets a coach canned. With a lose tonight look for the hot seat to get even warmer for Woodson, if that is even possible.
The Knicks were torched Monday night by an underwhelming group of perimeter players the Bucks employ; if they come out with the same defensive intensity against this group the Blazers have the game will be over before halftime. The Blazers are the highest scoring team in the NBA, which could spell trouble for the ever-giving Knicks defense. The Knicks should make it a priority to lock down the three-point line where Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum can hurt them.
Reigning Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard will also cause a problem for the Knicks. Raymond Felton has to put on a good performance on both ends of the court, more so on the defensive end. Throughout the season Felton has been a revolving door at the point of attack for opposing teams and he has done little to act as resistance. Teams are game planning to attack Felton because they know that is the weakest part of the Knicks defense and they are exploiting it. Felton needs to show improvement starting tonight or it will be a long night at Madison Square Garden.
-Battle on the Boards
The Blazers are not only the best scoring team in the NBA, they happen to be the best rebounding one as well. The Blazers average 46.4 rebounds per game, compared to only 40.5 for the Knicks. It will be imperative for the Knicks to gang rebound tonight to try and control the paint as much as they can. Tyson Chandler and Carmelo Anthony will have their hands full throughout the night trying to slow down All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge and Robin Lopez but we have seen each of them capable of dominating the rebounding department. It would be nice to see J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert get in on the rebounding action; both rebound well for guards and will help offset the strong all-around games Matthews and Batum are capable of putting together.
Matchup of the Game: Raymond Felton vs. Damian Lillard
Another game, another day the Knicks are outclassed at the point guard position. The Knicks have struggled mightily all season because of poor point guard play and Felton being exposed nightly as a poor defensive player. Tonight Felton will once again have his hands full as Lillard has been solid against the Knicks in his short career, averaging 23.3 points on 50.9 percent shooting.
Felton and the Knicks may be catching Lillard and the Blazers at a good time though. The Blazers have lost five of eight, averaging 100 points per game and shooting 28.8 from the three point line, well below their season average of 38.2 percent. The Blazers are playing better than anyone expected them to be playing and could be coming back down to earth or could just be hitting a lull in a long season. Whatever the reason may be the Knicks need to take advantage and get back on track against a team in a little bit of a tail slide.