By Kenneth Teape – Knickswag Contributor
Pre-Game News and Notes
Grizzlies vs. Knicks: MSG 7:30PM
With all of the attention being on the Heat currently and their 27-game winning streak it is understandable that people are not aware that the Knicks actually hold the second longest win streak in the NBA currently at five games. The Knicks will look to run that streak to six games tonight with a win against the Grizzlies. This is the second matchup between the teams this season with the Grizzlies taking the first meeting 105-95 all the way back in November. Here are some things to look for in the game tonight.
-Can Knicks Compose Themselves?
The last time these two teams took the court together the game was very physical with little altercations taking place throughout the game. The Knicks were unprepared for this and let it get the Grizzlies’ physicality and the referees get into their head and throw them off their game.
J.R. Smith got into it with Jerryd Bayless and picked up a technical foul and head coach Mike Woodson also picked up a technical for arguing calls. The Knicks were unhappy with how physical the game had gotten and how the referees handled it and did not respond in a good manner.
Throughout the season the Knicks have been rattled by teams that play them physically and get under their skin. Will that continue tonight? Both teams will look different tonight on the court with plenty of roster moves and injuries changing the landscape of both teams.
Rasheed Wallace said it best after the first game, “They’ve still got to come to the Garden.” The Knicks should respond differently tonight being home and prepared more for what to expect.
For the second night in a row the Knicks will not be the only banged up team taking the court. The Knicks will most likely be without All-Star center Tyson Chandler again as he told reporters earlier today that he was most likely sitting out with pain still lingering in his neck.
Thankfully for the Knicks they will be going up against a team for the second straight night without their best big man as the Grizzlies’ starting center Marc Gasol will miss the game with an abdominal injury. Gasol is a vocal point in the Grizzlies’ offense and he will be missed a lot on the court, but not by the Knicks.
The Knicks should let Chandler rest as much as he needs. The playoffs are much more important than these games currently right now and they haven’t missed him too much on the court, going 5-2 without him with big contributions from his fill-in Kenyon Martin.
-Bench Brings It
The Knicks have fared quite well in the second games of back-to-backs, going 10-6 thus far this season. One reason for this is a strong bench, something the Knicks have. The Knicks bench averages 40.8 points per game, second best mark in the NBA.
Led by J.R. Smith the Knicks bench is capable of carrying the offensive load for long periods of time. They will need Smith to have an efficient game again like he did last night against the Celtics as the Grizzlies are second in the NBA in defensive efficiency. He will not able to do it alone and will need help from the likes of Steve Novak and Chris Copeland if the Knicks are to score enough to beat the Grizzlies.