By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
Knicks vs. Celtics | Verizon Wireless Arena (Manchester, NH)
When: Saturday | 7:30 PM
Where to Watch: MSG 2
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
New York: Preseason games are so tough to evaluate because they are played and coached with an eye on evaluation and building chemistry, not necessarily winning. We know what Carmelo Anthony will give you on a nightly basis (his 24 points and eight assists in 25 minutes last night in Toronto were impressive, if not enlightening), so in these games, the team is looking to see how he fits alongside new addition Andrea Bargnani and find out who is capable of filling the time when Melo is not on the floor. Offensively, the Knicks weren't as successful scoring without Melo as they were in the preseason opener against Boston, stagnating as the game wore on and unfamilar personnel combinations struggled to find a groove.
Boston: When these two teams met on Wednesday in Providence, the Celtics did what a rebuilding team hopes to do: play hard until the final buzzer. After falling behind big in the 3rd quarter, they rallied back down the stretch, even taking a lead before Tim Hardaway Jr.'s last-second jumper gave the Knicks the win. After a loss to Philadelphia last night, they'll be looking for a good effort tonight in front of their fans in New Hampshire.
The Numbers Game
Iman Shumpert and Josh Powell (both +12) were the only Knicks to post positive plus/minus ratings against the Raptors last night.
Matchup to Watch
Tim Hardaway Jr. vs. Avery Bradley
Hardaway played a team-high 30 minutes last night and it sounds like he's in line for a start tonight. Through two games, he's shot 11-for-21 from the floor and 6-for-12 from three. He'll have his ups and downs as a rookie, but so far his consistency has been impressive. He'll face a stiff test tonight if Bradley plays for the Celtics in a back-to-back game. Bradley is one of the NBA's premier defenders, so if the two match up, we'll get a chance to see how Rook handles on-ball pressure.
What to Look For
Expect to see some different guys getting extended looks tonight:
Woodson said he'll start: Prigioni, Shumpert, probably Hardaway Jr., Bargnani, & Chandler #Knicks— Jonah Ballow (@jonahballow) October 12, 2013
#Knicks head coach Mike Woodson said he will rest Melo, Felton, & World Peace for tonight's gm against the Celtics.— Jonah Ballow (@jonahballow) October 12, 2013
This will be a good opportunity for the team to figure out how to score without Anthony. Shumpert has been stellar through two games and will likely be asked to continue working as a playmaker tonight. Bargnani is finding his role on both ends of the floor, and could be a focal point of the offense at the high post with the starting group. With their teammates learning new roles on the fly, smart veterans like Chandler and Prigioni should be particularly helpful in games like tonight's.
The battle for final roster spots rages on, with bigs Cole Aldrich and Powell trying to show they are capable of helping the team if the need arises during the season. Toure' Murry has three point guards ahead of him on the depth chart, but his nine minutes last night included some savvy defensive plays and a highlight drive to the hoop and reverse layup. With Felton likely out tonight, he could get a closer look.