By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
Knicks vs. Hawks | Madison Square Garden
When: Wednesday | 8:00 PM
Where to Watch: MSG Networks
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
Knicksnow Live In-Game Chat
New York: Tonight is Fan Appreciation Night at the Garden. Knicks faithful will have the opportunity to celebrate the team's tremendous accomplishments this regular season as they prepare for what we all hope is a deep playoff run. But aside from the festivities, all focus will be on Saturday and Game 1 of the playoffs against the Celtics. Coach Woodson rested Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, Raymond Felton against Charlotte on Tuesday, and Tyson Chandler and Kenyon Martin continued to rest/heal up.
Assuming all return to active status for Saturday, his playoff rotation seems relatively set. With his ability to score, Chris Copeland has emerged as a key cog off the bench, and he could have another game to showcase his talents before returning to his more familiar role...The Knciks also made a roster move yesterday, signing guard/forward Quentin Richardson for the playoff run. "Q," as he's known, can shoot from deep and score in the paint, with the strength to guard bigger players -- a skill that could come in handy if the Knicks decide to go small.
UPDATE: The Knicks have also signed center Earl Barron. Barron, who donned the Orange and Blue in 2009-10, averaged 11.7 points and 11 rebounds during his last stint with the team.
Atlanta: The Hawks are involved in the only race remaining for Eastern Conference playoff seeding, and yet, they seem to have no interest in "winning" it. Tied coming into tonight with Chicago for the 5th/6th seeds, the team that finishes ahead would face a potential second round matchup with the Heat. Perhaps for that reason, Atlanta's effort against the Raptors last night left plenty to be desired.
Josh Smith played less than 13 minutes and, according to one report, "spent the entire second half watching from the bench, a towel covering his head." Now, I'm no phsychologist, but that kind of body language, combined with their recent history of first-round playoff losses and the fact that they've lost 14 of their last 25 games suggests that a possible second round opponent should be the least of their concerns.
Last Time Out
New York: With four of their five starters resting, the Knicks lost to the Bobcats in Charlotte, 106-95, on Tuesday.
Atlanta: The Hawks turned in a lackluster effort, losing to the Raptors, 113-96, last night.
The Numbers Game
Chris Copeland scored a career-high 32 points in 47 minutes in Charlotte on Tuesday.
Matchup to Watch
Chris Copeland vs. Ivan Johnson
In the regular season's finale, with playoff position basically set, these are the kinds of matchups we get to watch. Copeland, staking his claim to postseason minutes off the bench with his continued ability to put the ball in the hoop, will at some point face Johnson. When these two do square off, it will be a fascinating matchup between two 29-year olds -- one (Copeland) a rookie, the other in his second NBA season. A true testament to the power of perseverance.
What to Look For
All eyes will be on Woodson's rotation. The outcome of the game is less important than how it prepares the Knicks to take the floor against Boston, so we'll see if Melo, J.R., Felton and the regulars suit up and play. If not, we could see heavy helpings of Copeland, Pablo Prigioni, James White, Steve Novak, Iman Shumpert and perhaps new addition Quentin Richardson.