By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
Knicks vs. Pistons | The Palace of Auburn Hills
When: Wednesday | 7:30 PM
Where to Watch: MSG Networks
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
New York: It had all the makings of a trap game. Following an emotional, nationally televised showdown with the Heat, the Knicks had to go on the road against the lottery bound Cavs. For about a quarter and a half, Cleveland couldn't miss and the Knicks couldn't get much going on offense, either. They were down 22 points when Carmelo Anthony fell awkwardly and had to leave the game with a knee injury, but rather than get blown out, they fought back. By the end, Amar'e Stoudemire's 22 points in 32 minutes and Tyson Chandler's presence down the stretch had led them to a win, their first in Cleveland since 2006. Anthony's status for the Pistons game is questionable at this point, so expect Stoudemire to start in his place if he can't go.
UPDATE: Kurt Thomas could also start at power forward, with Stoudemire coming off the bench, according to Mike Woodson at today's shootaround.
UPDATE #2: Carmelo Anthony is out tonight.
Detroit: At 23-39, the Pistons are struggling. They've lost five of their last six games, by an average of 19 points. Optimism for a playoff push this season has waned as the team heads for a fourth straight spot in the Draft lottery. Only four players (Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe, Joe Calderon, and Will Bynum) have a Player Efficiency Rating above 15, which is considered league average, and Drummond -- the promising rookie center who leads the team at 22.3 -- is out for the forseeable future with a stress fracture in lower back.
Last Time Out
New York: The Knicks were able to weather an early onslaught from the Cavs to come back and win, 102-97, without Carmelo Anthony for more than a half.
Detroit: The Pistons traveled to San Antonio to face the Spurs on Sunday, and were turned away by a score of 114 to 75.
The Numbers Game
Live by the 3: The Knicks are 2nd in the league in both 3-pointers attempted and 3-pointers made this season.
Matchup to Watch
Tyson Chandler vs. Greg Monroe
Monroe, along with the injured Drummond, is key to the identity the Pistons ultimately hope to establish with their promising front court. He is a gifted passing big man -- ninth in assist rate among centers -- who can create for his teammates out of the high post or socre at the rim, where he's shooting over 60% this season. Chandler, his likely matchup, has been the Knicks' rock defensively, including down the stretch of their thriller in Cleveland on Monday. Monroe presents another test, but he is more of a tactician than a bruiser.
What to Look For
Obviously Knicks fans will be looking to see if Anthony plays, and if he's affected by the knee. He could be replaced by Thomas in the starting lineup, but Stoudemire would be the one to see increased opportunities throughout the game...
Like the Knicks, the Pistons have gone to a dual-point guard alignment since they acquired Calderon in the trade that sent Tayshaun Prince to Memphis. It's had mixed results in 14 games since the deal, but in theory the steady Calderon (averaging 12 points and seven assists) can help ease the pressure on the second-year Knight (averaging 14 and 3), who can play more off the ball and use his size to help defend the bigger opposing guard. The Pistons rank in the bottom third of the league in both offensive and defensive efficiency, so if the Knicks can limit turnovers and work for good shots, they should be in line for a win heading into their Thursday night showdown with Oklahoma City.