Knicks @ Bucks 8 PM
Where to Watch: MSG
Where to Listen: ESPN 1050 AM
New York: The playoff race is heating up and it’s that time of the year to keep an eye on the nightly scoreboard. On Tuesday night, Boston beat Miami, Philadelphia captured a much needed win, and the Knicks unfortunately lost to Chicago on the road. The end result has the Celtics in fourth place, the Sixers moving back to No. 7 and New York dropping down to No. 8 with a one game lead on the Bucks and trailing Philadelphia by one game. Obviously, tonight’s contest against Milwaukee is monumental and then New York will play Miami on Sunday and Boston on Tuesday to conclude a brutal stretch in the final month of the season. Jeremy Lin remains in New York to rehab from the knee surgery and Amar’e Stoudemire is on the road with the Knicks. Stoudemire looked good in pregame warm-ups on Tuesday night as he recovers from a bulging disk in his back. There is no timetable for his return to the floor with 10 games left on the schedule.
Milwaukee: Refusing to fall out of the playoff picture, the Bucks are currently in ninth place with a 28-29 overall record. Since suffering a loss to the Knicks on March 25, Milwaukee has won six of its last eight games before falling to Oklahoma City two days ago. The Bucks are trying to surge towards the postseason with a new-look lineup that features Monta Ellis, who was dealt from Golden State before the trade deadline. Not only has Ellis bolstered Milwaukee’s starting lineup but the Midwest squad now owns a deep bench featuring Luc Mbah a Moute, Larry Sanders, Mike Dunleavy, and Ekpe Udoh. The group will have to gel quickly as it trails New York by one game for the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Milwaukee will end the season against Philadelphia and Boston while playing six of its last 10 games at home.
Last Time Out
New York: Derrick Rose was sidelined for Tuesday’s contest but the Knicks could not overcome the Bulls in Chicago and fell 98-86.
Milwaukee: Russell Westbrook dropped 26 points in leading the Thunder over the Bucks 108-89 on Monday night.
The Numbers Game
Carmelo Anthony is enjoying a spectacular month of play by averaging 33.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game in 38.3 minutes of action. The All-Star is also shooting 50 percent from the floor in April.
Match-up to Watch
Knicks Bench vs. Bucks Bench
Aside from J.R. Smith’s 14 points on Tuesday, the Knicks second unit only managed to score four points. The lack of production from Steve Novak and Toney Douglas placed heavy pressure on the starters and Anthony. If “Mobb Deep” returns to full force with Novak drilling long bombs, New York will become a dynamic offensive team. Milwaukee also relies its bench as seen in the previous meeting when Dunleavy jumped off the pine to score a team-high 26 points against the Knicks. Balanced scoring is the goal for both squads and bench output will go a long way in determining the outcome.
What to Look For
Expect an extremely physical – playoff style of basketball game on Wednesday night in Milwaukee. Both teams failed to reach 90 points in the previous matchup that resulted in an 89-80 victory for the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. With that said, the Bucks have serious firepower on their roster with the explosive point guard Brandon Jennings and his new backcourt mate Ellis. The two Milwaukee playmakers are capable of big time performances on a team that ranks No. 6 in the NBA in points per game and third in assists per outing. Following the loss to Chicago, Tyson Chandler described Wednesday’s game as a must win and his squad will treat it as a Game 7 in the playoffs. If Chandler and the Knicks defense can duplicate their performance from March 26, they should escape a raucous atmosphere in Milwaukee with quite possibly the biggest win of the season.
"It's a must win. It's probably one of the biggest games of the season for us. We've got to be ready." -- Carmelo Anthony