Pre Game News and Notes
Magic vs. Knicks:MSG 730pm
Even with the recent struggle the Knicks have gone through, they will head into February in much better shape than recent history as they sit second in the Eastern Conference and atop the Atlantic Division. Tonight will be a good test for the Knicks against an over-matched Magic team to start turning around some things they have struggled with recently and continue to build upon their great first half.
-Changing Lineup Again
As the Knicks looked to finally be turning a corner on the injury front, they have been hit again. This time it is in the back-court, as Jason Kidd will miss the game tonight with a sore back. Head coach Mike Woodson said that Kidd could play against Orlando if needed, but will instead opt to have him rest and get well.
The back has acted up recently for Kidd, who played only five minutes in the last game, but with Raymond Felton being back in the fold getting Kidd some rest is possible. In his absence, James White will be starting at shooting guard spot for the Knicks tonight. Pablo Prigioni will see an increased role off the bench as well, since he is the only other healthy point guard on the roster.
-Step up Defensive Intensity
The past two games the Knicks have been torched on the perimeter, specifically Felton, by opposing point guards. As Shumpert works back into shape it is expected that he will take on the role of stopping the opposing lead guard, but until then it will fall upon Felton to do so.
Having Felton do that in his first two games back may have been a bit much, as he still needs to work his way back into shape. Jrue Holiday went for a career high 35 points on Saturday and Sunday followed with a 27 point performance by Jeff Teague; a game in which the Hawks shot 60 percent.
Overall, the past two games the opposition has shot 55 percent from the field; a number much too high for a team such as the Knicks that consider themselves contenders. Tonight the Knicks will face off against another good point guard in Jameer Nelson, but a much less talented team than the 76ers or Hawks have.
-Get Back to Basics
If not for Carmelo Anthony’s heroics Sunday night the Knicks would be facing their second three game losing streak this season tonight. One reason for that is the constant changing of rotations and starting lineups; the inability for the Knicks to jell has made for some problems on the defense, evident by that shooting percentage allowed, but the offense as well.
With Felton coming back into the fold the Knicks need to get back to basics with the offense and move the ball. To start the season the Knicks were successful because they were moving the ball, swinging it back and forth and getting open looks. As Felton gets back into things it will become even easier; the ability Felton possesses to penetrate and get into the paint is something they missed a lot with him sidelined.