Pre-Game News and Notes
Knicks vs. Timberwolves: MSG 8pm
The Knicks put out a half-hearted attempt at playing basketball Wednesday night against the Washington Wizards and it resulted in a loss. Against a similarly poor team they must avoid the lapses and effort and bring it to the Timberwolves right from the start. Steve Novak and James White were both added as part of the NBA All-Star Game festivities, taking part in the three point shooting contest and slam dunk competition respectively; before the Knicks can enjoy the break though they still have some business to take care of and it starts in Minnesota tonight.
-Knicks Catch a Break
The Knicks will catch a huge break against the Timberwolves as their best player, power forward Kevin Love, is still dealing with a broken bone in his hand and will not suit up tonight or in the foreseeable future. Love dominates the Knicks when he faces off against them, putting up gaudy rebounding and scoring numbers that rival some of the greatest games in NBA history; anyone remember the 2010-2011 season when Love went for 31 points 31 rebounds against the Knicks?
Since Love went down with the injury the Timberwolves have struggled mightily, going 3-14 and on the fast track to a top pick again in the NBA draft this spring.
-How much will Melo Score?
Tonight is the type of night a scorer like Carmelo Anthony circles on the calendar as the game he could have a season high in points. Not only are the Timberwolves not the greatest of teams, their best defender, Andrei Kirilenko, will be out tonight with a strained right quadriceps.
Instead, the Timberwolves will be using the inexperienced Derrick Williams and journeyman Mickael Gelabale, who was in the D-League just a few weeks ago, to slow down Anthony. I expect Mike Woodson to run the offense through Anthony much like Monday night against the Pistons when they deployed youngster Kyle Singler to guard Anthony.
Anthony will have the ball in his hands much of the game tonight and how he responds will be what decides the game tonight. If he is able to put the ball in the basket frequently enough and get his teammates going it should be easy sledding tonight for the Knicks.
-How Knicks Guard Rubio
The Timberwolves are not having a great season but they do have one player people would pay to watch even with Love sidelined; Ricky Rubio. Rubio is a flashy, clever point guard that has the passing prowess of Steve Nash.
Currently he is also the only thing that keeps the Timberwolves relevant, as his passing will get the most out of even the worst of NBA players because of the position he puts them in. To combat this, it would not be shocking to see Woodson employ some sort of trap defense on Rubio.
If the Knicks can slow down Rubio the T’wolves offense will be lost and have no flow. Setting the tone early on the defensive end is vital for the Knicks on the road, who have been allowing opposing point guard to pick apart their defense with surgical precision because of the comfort level they build up; if you get the opposing point guard out of rhythm from the start it will be more difficult on him to get his team into their offense and score the basketball.
Kenneth Teape @teapester725 – Knickswag Contributor
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