Game 63 vs. Knicks
When last we checked in on the Knicks they were a somewhat selfish team, playing poorly, working on a 3-game losing streak, coming into Portland with Zach Randolph's revenge on their minds.
Now we return to our saga with the Knicks being a somewhat selfish team, playing poorly, working on a 5-game losing streak, with us in New York and Zach Randolph in Indiana for the weekend with a bum foot and personal issues.
There's a wonderful line in the ESPN.com injury report that says "Zach Randolph is not listed in the starting lineup and appears to be inactive." This, of course, begs the response, "Nawww...that's just Zach. He always appears that way when he's not scoring."
In short, the more things change the more they remain the same.
It's a lot easier task to enumerate what's going right with the Knicks than what's going wrong. Jamaal Crawford has remained steady throughout the season, averaging almost 21 points and 5 assists per game. He shoots 41% but if that were a crime in New York their entire backcourt would be in jail. Eddy Curry still shoots very well and is still demanding more touches. Nate Robinson has been lighting it up the past couple of games. David Lee still rebounds like a pro.
Awwww...who am I kidding. They still can't defend. They couldn't block Bilbo Baggins' shot if he were blindfolded. They never force turnovers. They can't seem to play together to save their souls. And the stories around town revolve around Isiah Thomas much more than the team itself.
Even with all that, though, New York has always been a tough place for us to play no matter what the teams looked like. ANYONE can beat us if we sleepwalk through the game. In fact it's not even a good idea to give this team as much leeway as we have Milwaukee last night because the Knicks have some players who can get legitimately tough when they get confidence.
All of the keys to tonight's game except the first are repeats from the last confrontation with the Knicks. The blueprint isn't that complicated.
What I'd Like to See:
- The starters played major minutes last night. The bench better produce something in the middle of each half. A game in the 70's would definitely NOT take advantage of everything the Knicks are willing to give.
- The Knicks don't block shots and they don't get back. Push the tempo, drive often, get fouled or convert free throws. Hoisting jumpers is just asking them to rebound.
- Your defense should focus on whoever has the ball. Eddy Curry is a load in the post but he never passes. Their guards also like to score first. Therefore when one of them gets the ball you're 85% sure who will shoot it. If Lamarcus or the guards are having trouble, just double. You'll live with them getting open perimeter shots because of your rotations if you have to.
- If you don't let them score off of offensive rebounds their already-crippled offense will be on full-out life support.
- Get a little nasty, control the game, and exploit their tendency to fracture. The safest bet of the whole evening is that they don't want this game as much as you do...providing you play like you want it at all.