By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
Knicks vs. Hawks | Philips Arena
When: Tuesday | 7:00 PM
Where to Watch: MSG Networks
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
New York: The Knicks have won nine games in a row now, and as confidence soars, so do expectations and new challanges to overcome. Last night, they marched into American Airlines Arena and beat the defending champs for the third time this season, as Carmelo Anthony stole the show with 50 points on 26 shots (7-of-10 from three). They remain tied with the Pacers for 2nd place in the East entering tonight. Should they drop to 3rd, Atlanta would be a potential first round playoff opponent.
Atlanta: The Hawks are cruising for a familiar fate: a middling playoff seed. They are a middle of the road team in both offensive and defensive efficiency, and that makes them a competitive opponent down the stretch, if not necessarily dangerous in the big picture. They have Al Horford, who has been playing out of his mind this season, and they always present challenges with their athleticism. They are 8-4 in their last 12 games, and will face the Knicks once more after tonight -- at the Garden on the final night of the regular season.
Last Time Out
New York: The Knicks ran their winning streak to nine last night, beating Miami, 102-90, behind 50 from Melo.
Atlanta: The Hawks edged the Cavs on Monday, 102-94.
The Numbers Game
Carmelo Anthony needed only 26 shots to score 50 points, as we already know. But what's amazing is that he did so without taking a single one within 15 feet of the basket.
Matchup to Watch
Kenyon Martin vs. Al Horford
Tyson Chandler alluded to the possibility that he sits tonight's game out, meaning that K-Mart will once again play big minutes as his fill-in. Even if he comes off the bench like he did against the Heat, Martin's athleticism and tenacity will be crucial to stopping Horford, who is incredibly active on both ends of the floor. He is wildly efficient on offense, and finishes at over a 50% clip.
What to Look For
Everything is clicking for the Knicks, who worked the ball around for good shots against a great Miami defense and held the defending champs to 32 points in the second half. Aside from Melo's heroics, the Knicks continued to have guys step up. J.R. Smith continues to attack, even though his four free throw attempts last night don't do him justice. Iman Shumpert has developed into a bona fide threat from deep, knocking down three more last night and shooting 42.4% from three this season.