By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
Knicks vs. Bucks | Madison Square Garden
When: Friday | 7:30 PM
Where to Watch: MSG Networks
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
New York: The Knicks are 1-for-1 on their current 6-game stretch against "teams they should beat" after disposing of an undermanned Orlando squad on Wednesday. Even without Arron Afflalo and Glen Davis for most of the game, the Magic kept things close for a half by gashing the Knicks from the perimeter -- a disturbing trend that has developed over the past few games. But as the New York D tightened up and Orlando's shooting came back down to earth, things normalized. Amar'e Stoudemire continued his resurgence with a perfect 7-for-7 shooting night from the floor.
Milwaukee: The Bucks are hanging in there this season, currently in 7th place in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, despite how poorly some of their main pieces would appear to fit together. Perhaps this has something to do with a coaching change from Scott Skiles to Jim Boylan, under whom they are 8-4. Their starting backcourt of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis can be described as undersized, shoot-first and defensively-limited and yet the team is 25th in offensive efficiency and 10th in defense. They have great length -- including six players listed at 6'10" or taller -- but still don't have much a low post scoring threat.
Last Time Out
New York: The Knicks braved an early onslought from Magic guards J.J. Redick and Jameer Nelson before pulling away in the 2nd half and cruising to a 113-97 win on Wednesday.
Milwaukee: Facing the defensive-minded Bulls, Milwaukee shot 42% as a team on Thursday night en route to a 104-88 loss.
The Numbers Game
Carmelo Anthony has run his streak of scoring 20 or more points to 30 games, breaking a franchise record set by Richie Guerin back in 1961-62.
Matchup to Watch
Jason Kidd vs. Monta Ellis
A supreme contrast in styles, these two should be looking to exploit their advantages all night long. Kidd, who will be back in the starting lineup after missing the Orlando game with a lower back issue, is bigger, more of a facilitator and a more cerebral player who will use his craftiness to outwit his counterpart. Ellis, on the other hand, is one of the more explosive guards around, capable of getting his shot off against most defenders. Kidd will rely on help from teammtes to cut off penetration.
What to Look For
Jennings averages just over 20 points per game against the Knicks, more than all but three other teams. He's not a "traditional point guard," but he is a gifted scorer and passer, and could cause the Knicks fits if they don't work as a team to limit his looks. Also worth watching: Mike Woodson has begun to see his trio of Anthony, Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler play well together. In the 3rd quarter against Orlando, in particular, we saw the three feed off of each other as Melo assumed the role of facilitator and the others converted high percentage looks.