Recognizing I haven’t shown much or any love to my New York Knicks lately, I decided to correct that. Today kicks off my “Before Tip-Off” series. Going forward, I’ll provide a quick and dirty post on what to watch for (W2W4) in each remaining Knicks game of the season. You can expect each post to go live on gameday. So be sure to come back regularly to get your Knicks news “Before Tip-Off”. Get it? LOL, I amuse myself.
Knicks @ Pistons
7:30PM/ ET on MSG
The Knicks (36-21) head into the Motor City coming off an unreal come from behind victory against the struggling Cleveland Cavaliers. Much like the Cavs, the Pistons (23-39) are a subpar team, and largely seen as a gimmee game. But if there’s one main takeaway from Monday’s win, it’s that the Knicks like to make EVERYTHING as difficult as possible. Just 5-5 in their last 10 games, nothing about the Knicks’ recent schizoid play proves they deserve to expect an easy win against any team…unless we’re talking about the Detroit Pistons. Unlike other below .500 teams that cause a fit for the Knicks, the Pistons are overmatched.
The Knicks are one win away from sweeping the series for the second consecutive season. They’ve won the previous matchups by an average of 17 points and the Pistons have lost seven of their last 10. Although Center Greg Monroe* (see update below) leads the Pistons with 16.1 ppg and 9.5 rpg, Tyson Chandler has held him in check in each of the previous three games. Also, another up and comer, rookie Andre Drummond, has missed the past 12 games with a fractured tailbone. Without him, the Pistons have generously allowed their opponents to score 102.5 points, compared to 96.2 ppg with him. Not even the return of Steve Novak and Jason Kidd’s shooting slumps could sink the Knicks. The Pistons are that bad.
As of now, Carmelo Anthony remains questionable* (see update below)with a sore right knee that apparently has fluid in it. *Hits panic button!* If he sits out tonight’s game, Kurt Thomas will start along with Chandler, Iman Shumpert, James White, and Raymond Felton. Yes, this starting lineup is weak, but don’t worry, it seems Mike Woodson is only starting White and Thomas because the NBA requires each team to have five able bodies on the floor at once. Four minutes into the first quarter, Woody will look for Amar’e Stoudemire and JR Smith to carry the offensive load the remainder of the game. With little to no expectations from Thomas and White, I’d just start them from jump, but Woody doesn’t want to ruin a good thing since STAT and Smith have proven they’re capable of providing a necessary spark off the bench whenever called upon. Maybe? I don’t know. However, I do know there will be plenty of games to question Woody’s lineup decisions and this isn’t one of them.
The Knicks are 3-4 without Melo this season. While the Knicks are always better with him, if there was one game he had to miss, this would be it, especially with OKC on the schedule tomorrow night.
One last thing, the Knicks recently signed Kenyon Martin to a second 10-day contract. Is it too much to ask that he get some playing time so we can determine what type of contribution to expect? Hopefully, tonight’s the night for Woody to make this happen, but that might be wishful thinking.
Thursday, 3/7: Knicks @ OKC, 8PM/ET on TNT
Melo’s out and so is Greg Monroe. Chris Copeland has been activated but isn’t expected to play.