By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
Knicks vs. Nets | Barclays Center
When: Tuesday | 8:00 PM
Where to Watch: TNT (MSG Postgame)
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
New York (35-45): Following this morning's shootaround at Barclays Center, Coach Mike Woodson declared the Knicks' goal to finish out the season on a high note. Eliminated from playoff contention, they'll do so tonight, and perhaps in tomorrow's season finale, without Carmelo Anthony, who missed shootaround while he tends to the shoulder that has limited him since these two teams last met on April 2. He also called Amar'e Stoudemire a game-time decision. Coming off a home win against the Bulls on Sunday night, Woodson mentioned tonight as an opportunity for other members of the rotation to get some extra playing time.
Brooklyn (44-36): With two games left to play, the Nets currently hold the 5 seed (and would face Chicago in the first round) in the Eastern Conference, but need a win to avoid falling to 6 (and facing division rival Toronto). A number of Nets will not play tonight, including: Alan Anderson (abdominal muscle), Shaun Livingston (toe) and Mirza Teletovic (personal). Meanwhile, Deron Williams (knee), Paul Pierce (shoulder) and Joe Johnson (calf) are all listed as game-time decisions.
The Numbers Game
The Knicks (10th) and Nets (11th) are among the league's best 3-point shooting teams, but both teams rank in the bottom third in 3-point defense, so guarding the perimeter will be crucial this evening.
Matchup to Watch
Cole Aldrich vs. Mason Plumlee
Woodson mentioned Aldrich as someone who could benefit from the Knicks resting veterans tonight. After staging a brief, playful 1-on-1 battle with the big man after shootaround, Woodson justified not being able to score on his big man by saying, "Cole's a pretty good defender. He's long." Indeed, the 7-footer will have to use his length against Brooklyn's athletic young center. Plumlee has vaulted into All-Rookie consideration by filling the void left by injuries to Brook Lopez and Kevin Garnett.
What to Look For
Woodson stressed that his team is self-motivated to play hard over the final two games. In addition to playing for pride, guys will be making their cases to be part of next year's team and young players will likely have an opportunity to show what they can do with extended minutes. The Nets will be playing for postseason position, so expect Jason Kidd's team to battle like they have since the All-Star break, during which time they've gone 20-9.