Knicks vs. Spurs – Madison Square Garden
When: Thursday | 7:30 PM
Where to Watch: MSG Networks
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
New York: Carmelo Anthony dropped 45 points in his return to the floor and Amar’e Stoudemire made his season debut on Tuesday night. While Anthony was able to pick up right where he left off, Stoudemire admitted to feeling rusty in a role off the bench. The big man said he felt good after Wednesday’s practice and he hopes his second outing is better than his first. In related frontcourt news, Rasheed Wallace continues to nurse a sore foot and is listed as day-to-day. At 21-10, the Knicks are second in the Eastern Conference standings, just a half game ahead of the Atlanta Hawks. New York will play its last home game of the week and head to Orlando on Saturday night for a matchup against the Magic.
San Antonio: It didn’t take long for the Spurs to bounce back after witnessing a surprising comeback win from the Knicks in San Antonio on November 15. The squad has compiled a 19-6 record since the defeat and won eight of its last 10 games heading into the contest against New York. San Antonio’s 26-8 overall record should be expected considering the consistent play of the three stars under the direction of a future Hall of Fame coach. While injuries are not an issue for the Spurs at this point in the season, there might be concern of weary legs entering their fourth game in five nights. The last time San Antonio faced this type of situation; Gregg Popovich sent home four of his five top players home and they were narrowly defeated in Miami. The Spurs travel back to San Antonio to face the Sixers on Saturday night following the game in New York tonight.
Last Time Out
New York: The Knicks rallied late in the contest but fell at MSG in a 105-100 loss to the Blazers on Tuesday night.
San Antonio: Brandon Jennings scored 31 points but the Spurs managed to top the Bucks in Milwaukee 117-110 last night.
The Numbers Game
The Knicks will need to avoid a deficit prior to the fourth quarter as San Antonio boasts a 19-1 record this season when leading after three periods.
Match-up to Watch
Jason Kidd vs. Tony Parker
Just about every NBA team features a top caliber point guard and the Spurs are no different. Tony Parker and Raymond Felton went toe-to-toe in the first matchup between the two teams. Felton won the battle by scoring 25 points and the war by helping the Knicks beat San Antonio 104-100. In this specific matchup, Felton is on the sidelines with a fractured pinky finger, which places the responsibility on veteran point guard Jason Kidd. Parker is averaging 19.4 points per game while shooting an impressive 51.3 percent from the floor and 41 percent behind the arc. He is one of the top guards in the league at reaching the paint and finishing in traffic. The Knicks frontline defenders will be accountable for stopping the lighting quick guard as well. As a team, New York will attempt to build a wall that forces Parker to shoot contested jumpers or make poor decisions in the half court game.
What to Look For
All eyes will be focused on the Knicks defense as they face a daunting task tonight. Tim Duncan is playing like a 25-year old again and is fresh off a game where he scored 28 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, recorded six assists, and blocked three shots. Manu Ginobili is a top playmaker off the bench, and the Spurs role players are dangerous offensive weapons. Add Parker to this mix and you have a squad that ranks No. 1 in points (105.9) and assists (25.7) per game. San Antonio is also 13th in the NBA in points allowed at 96.9 but it gives up about four more points per game on the road. On the opposite side, the Knicks need a strong start while avoiding a major deficit in the first half. The intensity on both ends of the floor will be necessary in order to snap the two-game skid and halt the Spurs seven-game winning streak.