Nets @ Knicks: MSG 3:30PM
The final match-up of the season between the wanna be rulers of New York, the New Jersey Nets and the first place team in the Atlantic Division, the New York Knicks tips off at 3:30pm Eastern time at the world’s most famous arena, MSG. … And Yes, I called them the New Jersey Nets. Interim Head Coach PJ Carlesimo has the Nets playing very well as of late, and the Nets will come into the game just two games behind the Knicks. They’re playing so well, Nets fans are claiming #Netstape on twitter now!!!
The Nets have won 10 of 12, as the Knicks have gone 6-6 over the same 12 game span. Though the Nets are give up the fifth fewest points in the NBA, they are actually 28th in the NBA in opponents field goal percentage, allowing opponents to shoot 46.2% and they are 27th in defending the three point line. The Nets weaknesses in those categories can only help the Knicks get back into rhythm.
The Knicks were one of the top five offensive teams in various offensive categories, but since the loss of Raymond Felton, the Knicks went from 2nd to 8th in points scored per game, their offensive flow has slipped as has their three point shooting and their over reliance on isolation offense has put them down to 15th in field goal percentage. The Knicks are still solid from three point line, 4th in the NBA. Overall their offensive efficiency is still 2nd best in the league; therefore expect the Knicks to have open looks later today.
After their win over the Pistons in London and the impressive return of Iman Shumpert plus Amar’e Stoudermire’s first real game as an offensive presence, the Knicks should be ready to return to form against real challengers. The Knicks resolve will be tested as they will be facing tough, defensive minded teams. The Knicks must keep their cool. The book is out on NY, they are overly emotional, frustrate them with physical play and get into their heads. The Knicks must recognize this and be prepared. I expect a fully driven, clear minded and focused Knicks squad. In order for the Knicks to be most successful, I believe Coach Woodson needs to start off with their best defensive unit. The defensive unit requires Iman Shumpert to start again and handle Deron Williams. Jason Kidd will be matched up against Joe Johnson. When Shump and Kidd come out, Woody should put in JR Smith or Ronnie Brewer on Williams or Johnson. The Knicks should start Kurt Thomas against Reggie Evans who just came off of a 20 rebound game.
The Nets are playing at their highest level of the year and they are confident, even Brook Lopez was quoted as saying he felt he was the best center in the East. I look for Tyson Chandler to have a MONSTER game and shut Lopez down. He should have kept quiet. Tyson is rested and ready and I believe so are the rest of the Knicks. It’s Nets, Boston and the Sixers this week, with Raymond Felton possibly returning on Saturday night in Philly. I wholeheartedly expect the Knicks to protect their home floor on MLK Day at MSG and extend their winning streak to three before heading to Boston on Thursday. GO NEW YORK GO NEW YORK GO!