Knicks vs. Nets 7:30 PM
Where to Watch: MSG
Where to Listen: ESPN 1050 AM
Unfortunately, the Knicks are not racking up wins while playing improved basketball on both sides of the floor. After drilling Detroit at home, New York has suffered back-to-back losses in the middle of the three-games-in-three nights set. At 8-15, the Knicks have plenty of time to jump back into the playoff picture, just 2.5 games behind Milwaukee for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. The squad remains fairly unscathed from this brutal stretch of games but head coach Mike D’Antoni will make a final determination on the status of his players prior to the contest against New Jersey. Baron Davis did not join the team on the short trip to Boston as he continues to rehab his back in search of a potential return in the near future.
The Nets stumbled out to an 3-11 start to the season but have compiled wins in five of their last ten games and are now 8-16 heading into the matchup against New York. Of course most of the news surrounding the New Jersey franchise involves the potential acquisition of All-Star Dwight Howard and the upcoming move to Brooklyn. While the Nets have to remain patient, the clock is ticking on the free agency status for star point guard Deron Williams and the team is dealing with a considerable list of injuries to key players on the roster. Rookie guard MarShon Brooks is out indefinitely, center Mehmet Okur missed Friday’s game due to back spasms, DeShawn Stevenson is sidelined for two weeks, Damon James is out for the season, and starting center Brook Lopez is out after undergoing surgery on his broken foot.
Last Time Out
The Celtics ramped up their defensive effort in the second half of last night’s game and limited New York to 34 points. Despite 26 points from Carmelo Anthony, 20 out of Tyson Chandler, and Amar’e Stoudemire’s 17 points, the Knicks just fell short 91-89 in Boston.
The Nets suffered a 108-105 defeat at home to the upstart Wolves on Friday night. With the loss, New Jersey is now 3-7 at the Prudential Center, its temporary home until the Brooklyn arena opens next season.
The Numbers Game
Since returning from the floor aftera ankle and wrist injuries, Anthony is averaging 25.6 points per game in his last three outings.
Match-up to Watch
Iman Shumpert vs. Deron Williams
This three-game stretch for Iman Shumpert has been quite an experience for the Knicks rookie. On Thursday, Shumpert defended Derrick Rose, Saturday featured a battle against Rajon Rondo, and tonight, the 21-year old will have another All-Star directly in front of him. Shumpert is showing promise from a defensive standpoint with strength and speed to match any point guard in the league. In the matchup against Williams, he will have to keep the Nets signal caller off the charity stripe and slowdown his overall productivity. The numbers are glaring in New Jersey wins, considering Williams averages 26.5 points and 10.3 assists in those games.
What to Look For
On Saturday night in Boston, D’Antoni adjusted his second unit by bringing reserve guard Jeremy Lin off the bench in the first quarter to replace Shumpert. Lin did not reach the floor in the second half while the Knicks head man decided to use Toney Douglas and shifted either Landry Fields or Shumpert to the shooting guard spot.
Watch the matchup between Fields and Nets shooting guard Anthony Morrow, who exploded for 42 points in 33 minutes last night against the Wolves. Morrow has always showed promise but the offensive output was staggering as he drilled 8-of-11 three-pointers and hit all eight of his free throw attempts.