Pistons vs Knicks: MSG 730pm
The Knicks are looking to go 5-0 on their current home stand for only the fifth time in Knicks franchise history! The Pistons come in playing improved basketball under Lawrence Frank and Jose Calderon will be making his Detroit debut running the point. Hopefully, we get to see Shump matched up on him again! For this Knicks squad it all starts with defense and not switching, we’ve been saying that on here for what seems like eternity and it looks like they’re doing that, especially in the second half of games. Their defense leads to offense and when they get into rhythm look out!
The Knicks have been beating the inferior opponents and have rebuilt the lead in the Atlantic Division to three games over the Nets. This is an especially big game, because the Bulls are two games behind the Knicks and they are playing at Indiana. With both a Pacers and Knicks win, the Knicks would sit tied with Miami for first, three games up on the Nets, Bulls, and Pacers for the 3-4-5 seeds.
The Knicks are winners of 7 of their last 9 and four in a row overall. They will play the Pistons tonight, at Washington on Wednesday and at Minnesota on Friday. Afterwards, they have two nice home matchups against the struggling CP-3 less Clippers on Sunday afternoon on ABC and a Wednesday night affair with Landry Fields and the Raptors before the All Star break on Friday. The Knicks could be riding a 9 game winning streak into the All Star Break. How amazing would that be?
The Pistons work hard, but they are extremely young. I expect Calderon to help his new teammates get some easy shots, as he is one of the most productive point guards, assists wise in the league. The Pistons have too many combo guards and Calderon is the opposite of that. After starting 0-8, the Pistons have gone 18-22, nearly a .500 team, so they are playing competitively with two impressive wins over Boston and Miami over the past 2 weeks.
Andre Drummond for the Pistons has been a beast on the boards and in the paint averaging 7.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per contest. Greg Monroe is one of the best passing big men in the game, so the Knicks must control the boards and the paint. Monroe is their best player with 15.8 ppg, 9.3 rpg as well as 1.2 steals and 3.2 assists. Tyson Chandler has been handling his business on the glass, with two straight 20 rebound performances, this must continue. Will Bynum has played well as of late and he must be contained, as usual the Knicks perimeter defenders must be ready to cut down on the penetration that Bynum, Brandon Knight and Calderon will try to do. Kyle Singler is also very active at slashing to the hoop. These are really the primary concerns for the Knicks in this matchup as Charlie Villanueva is their best three point shooter at 38%.
The Knicks offense is still third (109.0) behind OKC (110) and Miami (109.1) in offensive efficiency, and Amare Stoudemire has been tremendous, his level of play should put the Knicks directly into title contention, IF they play defense. The Knicks are still 16th in defensive efficiency. If they crack the top 10, they could be unstoppable; this is especially true that despite some rebounding problems, the Knicks are the best defensive rebounding team in the NBA! Barkley be damned! Offensively they are 23rd, and that’s where their overall ranking of 18th evens out. The Knicks have improved tremendously in this area over the last 15 games or so.
I look for the Knicks to win their fifth game in a row tonight and continue to no longer take lesser teams for granted. The focus should be to solidify the number 2 seed, win the division and make a run for the top seed. One game at a time for these Knicks, just one game at a time. GO NEW YORK!