By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
Knicks vs. Clippers | Staples Center
When: Wednesday | 10:30 PM
Where to Watch: MSG
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
New York (3-10): The Knicks fell victim to the red-hot Trail Blazers on Monday, dropping the first of three consecutive Western Conference road games in Portland after a second half rally came up short. They'll look to regroup in L.A. against one of the best teams in the NBA. They could have Raymond Felton back, after being without their starting point guard for the past four games. Improvement on the wings will be crucial if they want to win; neither Iman Shumpert nor J.R. Smith have contributed much during the Knicks' current six-game losing streak.
Los Angeles (10-5): After three years under Vinny Del Negro, the Clippers got serious about their championship aspirations by making a move to hire Doc Rivers as Head Coach and Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations this summer. With Chris Paul inked to a long-term extension, they also decided to trade away budding superstar Eric Bledsoe in a three-team deal that netted them both of their starting wings, J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley. Ultra-athletic big men Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are now being counted on to develop into the type of game-changing front line that leads teams deep into the playoffs. They stumbled a bit early, but at 10-5, things are looking up for the Clips.
The Numbers Game
With 34 points and 13 rebounds, Carmelo Anthony notched his third straight double-double in Portland on Monday.
Matchup to Watch
Andrea Bargnani vs. DeAndre Jordan
Bargnani has filled in admirably since Tyson Chandler went down with a leg injury, but he'll face perhaps the most athletic center in the league tonight in Jordan. The Clippers' 25-year old big man is second in the NBA with 30 dunks this season -- a threat to catch a lob at any moment. Jordan mostly spent last season as Del Negro's scapegoat when things didn't go well, but Rivers has empowered him by pumping him up as one of L.A.'s "Big Three," on par with Griffin and Paul.
What to Look For
Not unlike last year, the Knicks limp into L.A. with injuries and a losing streak. Players have voiced concern about ball movement and defensive effort, lending credence to the belief that there is no one simple answer to the questions that surround the team. If the Knicks are going to win the game, they'll need to protect the ball and prevent the Clippers from getting easy opportunities in transition; historically a slow-paced team under Paul, L.A. has shown more willingness to run this season. The Knicks will also have to keep an eye on shooters, as Redick and Dudley add a new dimension that the team lacked previously. The Clippers bench is its weakness; it's comprised of one-dimensional offensive players who are truly impotent on D. Between Darren Collison, Jamal Crawford and Byron Mullens, the Knicks will have openings to attack.