Knicks vs. Bobcats 7:30 PM – Madison Square Garden
Where to Watch: MSG
Where to Listen: ESPN 1050 AM
Tuesday’s practice for the Knicks featured some welcome additions as Amar’e Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert joined the team at Madison Square Garden Training Center. Stoudemire hit the floor for the first time since injuring his ankle in the contest against the Lakers and Shumpert is ahead of schedule after suffering a knee injury on opening day. Both players are optimistic about their availability for Wednesday’s contest at home but are officially listed as gametime decisions. At 2-3, the Knicks are searching for their second victory of the season at Madison Square Garden and will look to gain some momentum before hitting the road for a two-game set in Washington and Detroit.
Just a couple of years ago, the Bobcats seemed to be an up-and-coming team behind Stephen Jackson, Gerald Wallace, and legendary head coach Larry Brown. Heading into the 2011-12 season, Charlotte seems to be in the midst of another rebuilding effort after re-shaping the roster and adding two top 10 draft picks last June. Former Connecticut star Kemba Walker and rebounding machine Bismack Biyombo are the Bobcats future. Charlotte sits at 1-4 on the season with four consecutive losses heading into the matchup against New York.
Last Time Out
New York rallied from an 18-point deficit on Monday night but could not close out Toronto, falling 90-85 at the Garden. Carmelo Anthony scored 35 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, and dished out four assists in the defeat.
The Bobcats were dropped 115-101 in Cleveland on Tuesday night. Despite a strong start in the first quarter where Charlotte scored 34 points and opened a seven-point lead, they were unable to maintain the high level of play and have failed to capture a road victory this season.
The Numbers Game
Carmelo Anthony scored 36 points in his lone meeting against Charlotte as a Knick last season. Amar’e Stoudemire averaged 17 points and 5.7 rebounds in the three meetings with the Bobcats. Charlotte’s D.J. Augustin averaged 17 points, 7.7 assists and 5.7 rebounds in the three games.
Match-up to Watch
Knicks Backcourt vs. Bobcats Backcourt
Toney Douglas caught fire in the third quarter of Monday’s game against Toronto. The New York point guard will be counted on for his scoring and defending the Bobcats underrated point guard D.J. Augustin. Charlotte’s leading scorer scored 26 points and recorded nine assists on Tuesday and he is the starter at the moment with Walker coming off the pine in his rookie campaign. Walker should feel right at home at the Garden after leading his Huskies to several incredible victories last year. Similar to Syracuse guard Jonny Flynn, Walker is a Big East guard who has gained fame with spectacular performances inside The World’s Most Famous Arena. Charlotte’s Gerald Henderson is also a threat at the shooting guard position. The former Duke standout is a streaky shooter and utilizes his athletic ability to get to the rim. Douglas, Landry Fields, and potentially Shumpert will have to limit the Bobcats guards’ productivity.
What to Look For
Knicks fans are hoping to see Stoudemire and Shumpert back on the floor, which could give the hometown team a gigantic boost from the backcourt and frontcourt positions. When healthy, Shumpert is an extremely gifted rookie and can break down opponents off the dribble. New York can place the ball in his hands to create and let Stoudemire roll to the basket or find Anthony for corner shots on the perimeter. Listening to the Knicks coaching staff at Tuesday’s practice, the team is focused on spreading the floor and using spacing to create open opportunities in the half court set. Isolation plays – 1-on-1 basketball will not help the offensive chemistry this team is searching for in game No. 6 of the season. The New York coaching staff is pleased with the defensive effort after holding Toronto to just 90 points on Monday night. The Knicks must win the battle on the glass as Charlotte ranks No. 4 in the league in rebounds per game while New York is 30th in the NBA.