Knicks @ Bobcats 8:00 PM
Where to Watch: My9
Where to Listen: ESPN 1050 AM
New York: In the home finale on Wednesday night, the Knicks took care of business by defeating the Clippers but their playoff seeding is still up in the air. Orlando beat the Bobcats to secure the No. 6 seed, which means New York will either enter the postseason in the seventh spot and face the Heat or drop to No. 8 and square off against the Bulls with a loss to Charlotte on Thursday. There is also a scenario with both the Sixers and Knicks suffering losses, which hold New York at No. 7 and a first round matchup with Miami. The Knicks are riding some momentum down the stretch by winning their last seven of 10 games and capturing their best home record in terms of winning percentage since the 2000-01 season. Under interim head coach Mike Woodson, the team has posted an impressive 17-6 record and 6-0 following a loss.
Charlotte: There is one positive aspect to Thursday’s season finale for the Bobcats; the nightmare is finally over. Charlotte hopes to avoid the worst winning percentage in NBA history if the team can somehow defeat the Knicks and snap a 22-game losing streak. The last win for the Bobcats occurred at home against the Golden State Warriors on January 14. At 7-58, Charlotte is missing Corey Maggette and Eduardo Najera in the lineup and Reggie Williams missed Wednesday’s game due to soreness in his left knee.
Last Time Out
New York: The Knicks avoided a late game collapse and slipped past the Clippers 99-93 in their home finale on Wednesday evening.
Charlotte: J.J. Redick dropped 31 points as the Magic topped the Bobcats 102-95 last night.
The Numbers Game
On Wednesday, J.R. Smith led the Knicks in scoring off the bench and the squad improved to 11-4 when the shooting guard plays 30 minutes or more.
Match-up to Watch
Iman Shumpert vs. Gerald Henderson
Lost in the Bobcats futility this season is the noticeable improvement from guard Gerald Henderson. In nine more minutes per game, Henderson has increased his average points per game by five. Over his last five outings, the second-year guard is posting 18 points per game and he exploded for 32 points against the Grizzlies six days ago. Knicks rookie Iman Shumpert will draw the defensive assignment on Thursday and he will look to slowdown Charlotte’s second leading scorer. Shumpert must challenge Henderson’s quick pop-and-stop perimeter jumper along with his deep range attempts. Offensively, Shumpert will need to generate offense as several of the Knicks starters could be resting in preparation for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
What to Look For
There will be a high level of interest in Thursday’s game but for all the wrong reasons. While the Bobcats are fighting history, New York wants to make sure the team remains healthy and on point heading into the postseason. Carmelo Anthony told reporters that he does not think he will play against Charlotte. One would assume interim head coach Mike Woodson will rely heavily on the capable Knicks to carry the squad to a road victory in their season finale.