Pre Game News and Notes
Knicks vs Pacers: TNT,MSG 8pm
Throughout the season, the Knicks have shown an ability to bounce back from losses, going 8-2 following a loss and never losing three games in a row. They will look to continue that great play following losses tonight in Indiana, but it will have to be done without the services of Carmelo Anthony, who was suspended as a result of the post-game antics on Monday. It will not be easy, as the Pacers have been playing great recently, going 8-2 over their last 10 games. Here are some things to watch for tonight:
Without Anthony, the Knicks will be missing their superstar and stop scorer for the game. Anthony, who averages 29.0 points per game on the season, is an irreplaceable talent for one person, so the Knicks will need a strong group effort from the rest of the team.
Smart money would be on J.R. Smith and Jason Kidd to carry the Knicks tonight. Without Raymond Felton and Anthony, the Knicks are 1-1 with a victory against the Suns and a loss against the Kings; Smith and Kidd were both excellent in the games. In those two games, Smith averaged 27.5 points and hit the game winner at the buzzer in Phoenix.
Smith will lead the bench unit that will need to step up tonight for the Knicks to win. Smith, who is averaging 23.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.8 steals in the last five games is the top dog on that unit and will be relied upon heavily in Anthony’s absence. Contributions from the likes of Steve Novak and Chris Copeland will be more than welcomed as the Knicks will need scoring from everyone to make up for Anthony.
-Contain Paul George
Like every other team that has faced the Pacers this season, the Knicks will not have to face Danny Granger, but the Pacers have another super-athletic wing that needs a lot of attention on the defensive end and he is Paul George.
George has had an all-star type season, averaging 16.7 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.5 steals per game and is only improving as the season goes on. Entering his third season in the NBA, George is finally getting comfortable as the star player, being asked to not only score but be a play-maker for the Pacers as well.
In his last five games, George is averaging 19.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.6 steals per game. If the Knicks can slow him down, the Pacers offense, which already is lackluster, will become even uglier; but if they are unable to chase him off the three-point line he will destroy the Knicks.
-How Much Will Amar’e Play?
This is just the type of game the Knicks would hope Amar’e Stoudemire would flourish in; without Anthony, the Knicks need a go-to scorer and no one fits that bill as well as Stoudemire, who has been doing it for 10 seasons in the NBA.
But this is not the same Stoudemire, as he will be on a strict minutes limit tonight with the advice from doctors, after Stoudemire experienced some soreness in his surgically repaired left knee after Monday’s game against the Celtics. Stoudemire played a season high 28 minutes against Boston, but has been instructed to play only 20-23 minutes against the Pacers tonight.
Neither Stoudemire or head coach Mike Woodson are calling this a setback for Stoudemire as he works his way back, but any type talk revolving around Stoudemire’s knee puts a scare into people and raises a red flag because of his extensive injury history.