By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
Knicks vs. Pistons – O2 Arena in London, England
When: Thursday | 3:00 PM
Where to Watch: MSG Networks
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
New York: The Knicks have been bit by the injury bug of late, which took its toll on the rotation and resulted in four different starting lineups in their last four games. After three tough losses to some of the best defensive teams in the league, they rebounded on Sunday to get back in the win column against a very hot New Orleans team. Despite the rigors of intercontinental travel, they have to be excited about the extra time to recover from various bumps and bruises. Shooting guard Iman Shumpert is expected to make his season debut in this game after recovering from knee surgery. UPDATE: Our Jonah Ballow reports that Shumpert could start today's game. "Woodson said the reason to start Shumpert is the fact he will be warm and ready to go." Woodson will check with the doctors before final decision, but either way he should see about 15 minutes.
Detroit: Thanks to an intriguing young nucleus, some people had the Pistons as a darkhorse playoff contender out of the Central Division this year. An 8-game losing streak to start the year put a damper on that, but things could be looking up as they head to London to face the Knicks. They've won seven of their last 10 and for a team with so many promising players under the age of 23, improvement over time should be expected. They are led by their 22-year old center, Greg Monroe, who is averaging 15.5 points and 9.2 rebounds per game, while shooting just under 50% from the floor.
Last Time Out
New York: The Knicks snapped a 3-game losing streak with a convincing win over the Hornets on Sunday, 100-87.
Detroit: The Pistons will have had four days to rest since losing by three to the Jazz at home, 90-87.
The Numbers Game
Despite all of the moving parts in the lineup recently, the Knicks (24-13) remain the 2nd-most efficient offensive team in the league (111.4 points per 100 possessions).
Match-up to Watch
Greg Monroe vs. Tyson Chandler
While rookie Andre Drummond garners most of the excitement with his highlight plays, Monroe is a much more refined big man, in his third season. A typical Georgetown center, he is an excellent passer and poses a real threat out of the high post. That he only ranks 9th among centers in assist rate probably speaks more to his teammates' ability to make shots than his ability to create opportunities for them. Chandler, who has been battling neck soreness, will have his work cut out for him on the defensive end. While Monroe is not the athlete that Chandler is, he can move his feet and shows good awareness in both pick-and-roll and isolation situations.
What to Look For
Most Knicks fans will be watching to see how Shumpert looks in his return, if he does, indeed, play. His addition could really help a team that has been without point guard Raymond Felton and been forced to play Carmelo Anthony as the small forward. If Shump can provide a lift, especially on the defensive end, the Atlantic Division leader could become even more dangerous. The Pistons feature two starters (point guard Brandon Knight and veteran swingman Tayshaun Prince) who shoot around 40% from 3, so the Knicks will have to be crisp with their rotations on the perimeter.