Pre Game News and Notes
76ers vs. Knicks
For the first time in the Mike Woodson era the Knicks will enter a game on a four-game losing streak. It is not to panic yet for the Knicks, as they still sit atop the Atlantic Division, but that can change depending on the result of the game tonight. The Knicks need to start picking up victories over divisional opponents, as that is a tiebreaker that will come into play at the end of the season and currently the Knicks have a losing record in division. It would go a long way for the Knicks to start turning things around tonight against the 76ers.
-Contain Jrue Holiday
The Knicks defense has been a leaking ship recently and needs to stiffen up if they are going to turn things around and start winning some games. Tonight the key will be slowing down All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday.
In the first three meetings this season Holiday has been a thorn in the Knicks side, averaging 26.3 points per game, including a career high 35 in the last meeting. Holiday is also getting his teammates involved, averaging seven assists per game in the three meetings.
Don’t be surprised to see Iman Shumpert covering Holiday a little more tonight. In the last meeting Shumpert was playing in only his fourth game back and was being eased into the rotation. Shumpert is still being eased back into his role but he has seen his defensive assignments change more in recent games as he has been assigned to guarding more of the guards. Expect more of the same tonight, because if the Knicks can slow down Holiday they will beat the Sixers.
Against the Raptors Mike Woodson changed up his rotation a little, sitting Tyson Chandler in the first quarter so that he could have him ready to go when the second quarter started. It was a strategy that seemed to work as the Knicks contained the Raptors in the second quarter, holding them to only 16 points scored.
Expect Woodson to roll with that lineup again as if something works there is no point to change it. Also, newly signed forward Kenyon Martin could see the court tonight for the first time this season, as Woodson said he looked good in practice and might get some burn tonight. Martin will bring some toughness, interior defense and rebounding to a team that has been lacking in those areas for most of the season.
-Attack, Attack, Attack
The Knicks have a penchant for settling for jump shots instead of getting to the basket. It is not for having a deficit of players able to get to the basket, as the Knicks have players that are more than capable of doing, like Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, Raymond Felton, and Iman Shumpert.
At times they get stagnant and just settle for long jumpers instead of continuing to attack the basket. Woodson was upset with the Knicks choices on offense Friday against the Raptors and would like for his team to attack the basket more.
Getting to the basket more means less three pointers, a staple of the Knicks offense when they got off to their hot start, as they were making 41 percent of their three points through December 15th. It may be worth trying something different as the Knicks have been their efficiency drop as they have fell to 37 percent shooting from the three point line and have gone 14-15 after December 15th. The poor three point shooting is a direct correlation to the poor win loss record and it is time the Knicks switch some things up and turn around their season.
Kenneth Teape @teapester725 – Knickswag Contributor
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