By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
Knicks vs. Clippers | Madison Square Garden
When: Sunday | 1:00 PM
Where to Watch: ABC
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
New York: The Knicks rebounded from a loss in Washington by putting away the Timberwolves on Friday night. Carmelo Anthony finished with 36 points and four others scored in double figures, including three guys off the bench. They return home after splitting a quick little two-game road trip, hoping to pounce on the Clippers on national television, while continuing to put the heat on Miami in the race for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
Los Angeles: After a blazing hot start that included an undefeated December, the Clippers have come back down to earth, winning only three of their last 11 and looking very beatable all of a sudden. Early MVP candidate Chris Paul has missed 12 games with a knee bruise and supposed starting shooting guard Chauncey Billups has only played in four. But even when healthy, the Clippers have serious issues on the wings, where they are neither good defensively nor dynamic as scorers. They were at full strength in Miami on Friday and expect to be so against the Knicks.
Last Time Out
New York: The Knicks took care of business against the Timberwolves in Minessota on Friday, 100-94.
Los Angeles: LeBron James and the Heat put on a clinic against the Clippers in Miami on Friday night, winning 111-89.
The Numbers Game
Both the Knicks (3rd) and the Clippers (7th) rank in the top 10 in the NBA in offensive efficiency this season.
Matchup to Watch
Blake Griffin vs. Carmelo Anthony
When 'Melo switched to the starting power forward this year, we couldn't help but look forward to matchups like these. Unlike most opposing 4s, Griffin won't give up much in terms of quickness, despite being incredibly strong. Like Anthony, who has become a deadly 3-point shooter, Griffin has expanded his game this season to include a reliable mid range jumper, becoming one of the better shooters for the position. He is quick with his first move and explosive when he elevates.
What to Look For
The Clippers have struggled to contain penetration and when they can't get what they want with a Chris Paul screen-and-roll, their offense tends to break down. Starting 3 Caron Butler is mostly a catch-and-shoot player at the point and shooting guard has given them very little this season, so the focus on the perimeter will be on containing Paul. We could see Iman Shumpert match up with him. When the Knicks have the ball, they will have to be patient against an improved Clipper defense (6th in defensive efficiency after finishing 18th last year), but there are holes. The frequently used closing lineup features Jamal Crawford and Lamar Odom, both of whom can be taken advantage of on the defensive end.