Pre Game News and Notes
Timberwolves vs. Knicks: MSG 5pm
The Knicks look to bounce back after a tough loss Friday against the Bulls in a match-up against the surprisingly 13-11 Minnesota Timberwolves. It is the last home game for the Knicks on their home stand before embarking on a west coast trip next week. For the Knicks, the Timberwolves will not be at full strength with Kevin Love sitting out after suffering an eye injury in their last game, but Ricky Rubio has returned and will present the Knicks with some trouble. Here are some things to watch for:
The Knicks offense was not strong against the Bulls Friday night, as the Bulls never allowed them to get into their offense; they forced the Knicks into a lot of one-on-one play and isolations. The Knicks will need to attack the Timberwolves defense with the pick-and-roll, as the T’wolves do not employ a center as defensive minded as the Bulls did with Joakim Noah.
Raymond Felton’s shot has been suffering lately, one reason the pick-and-roll has suffered. With Felton struggling to knock down jumpers consistently right now, teams are cueing in on the role man, which is Tyson Chandler in most cases. Teams are dropping off Felton and daring him to shoot the ball; if he can start knocking down those jumpers it will open up the lane for Chandler.
With the lane open from successful pick-and-roll play, kick-outs to shooters such as Steve Novak, J.R. Smith and Carmelo Anthony would be much more successful.
-Crash the Boards
Once again, the Knicks will be facing off with a far superior rebounding team in the Timberwolves. The Timberwolves are ranked fifth in the NBA with 45.6 rebounds per game; the Knicks on the other hand are ranked 28th with 39.7 per game.
A big reason the T’wolves are ranked so high is the play of Kevin Love, one of, if not the best rebounders in the NBA. The Knicks have witnessed firsthand Love’s rebounding prowess, as he grabbed 21 in the game last season while scoring 32 points. The season before, 2010-2011, Love was even more impressive in grabbing 31 rebounds in addition to 31 points, the first 30-30 game in 28 years in the NBA.
Thankfully for the Knicks, Love will not be playing because of injury. The Knicks will still need a concerted effort on the boards to slow down the T’wolves and the onus will fall on Chandler; with Rasheed Wallace dealing with a stress reaction in his foot and Marcus Camby with plantar fasciitis, Chandler will play heavy minutes with Kurt Thomas as his only backup.
The Knicks lost their cool Friday night as the Bulls played them very physical. Look for more teams around the NBA to start doing that to the Knicks, as a majority of their losses this season have come against teams that play very physical with the Knicks, especially Anthony.
The Timberwolves lose something with Love out due to injury, but still have some bangers in Nikola Pekovic, Andrei Kirilenko and number two overall pick last season Derrick Williams.
Keeping cool is something that should be imperative for the Knicks, as they rank fourth in the NBA in technical fouls, with Anthony leading the way with eight of his own.