Knicks vs. Hawks 7:30 PM
Where to Watch: MSG
Where to Listen: ESPN 1050 AM
In the midst of a stretch of four games in five nights, the Knicks are welcoming back key players to the roster before the All-Star break. While they are excited to add offensive weapons, there is a difficult transition period when Carmelo Anthony, Baron Davis, and J.R. Smith are thrown into the mix. Without practice availability, New York will have to adjust on the fly and bounce back from two losses in its last three games. As of Tuesday night, the Knicks are located at the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference standings, three and a half games behind the team they face on Wednesday night.
The Hawks are one of teams lurking in the Eastern Conference, not quite a contender but a difficult matchup in the postseason. After a 44-38 finish last year and semifinals exit in the playoffs, Atlanta is hoping to the take the next step behind its three stars. Last month, the Hawks title aspirations took a huge hit when Al Horford suffered a torn left pectoral muscle, placing in the sidelines for at least three months. At 19-13, Joe Johnson and Josh Smith have held the squad together as they sit in sixth place, six games behind the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference standings. However, it might be danger time for Atlanta again as Johnson might miss the next two games due to ailing left knee. Johnson is the team’s leading scorer and top offensive threat. Marvin Williams is expected to return to the lineup against New York on Wednesday after attending a family member’s funeral.
Last Time Out
The Knicks could not overcome a late fourth quarter deficit in a 100-92 defeat to the Nets on Monday night.
The Hawks fell to the Bulls 90-79 in Chicago on Monday afternoon. Jannero Pargo led the team with 19 points but Atlanta dropped its second consecutive game.
The Numbers Game
Amar’e Stoudemire paced the Knicks with 25.0 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists in four meetings against the Hawks last season.
Match-up to Watch
Amar’e Stoudemire vs. Josh Smith
Smith is an all-around force on both sides of the floor. The Hawks power forward is not necessarily a threat from the perimeter but he will attack the rim and pound the glass with his incredible athleticism. This season, Smith is averaging 16 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.1 blocks, and 1.5 steals per game. On the opposite side, Stoudemire is looking to build on a solid outing on Monday night. Stoudemire scored 17 points and was effective from the free throw line extended, hitting several jumpers. The Knicks big man will be more successful from the outside as opposed to trying to take Smith off the dribble in Wednesday’s Eastern Conference showdown.
What to Look For
Without Horford and Johnson in the lineup, the Knicks should have no problem defending a team that lacks scoring options. Atlanta only averages 94 points per game while the Knicks have improved on the defensive side of the floor. With that said, Deron Williams and the Nets killed New York from the three-point line on Monday. The Knicks must challenge shooters beyond the arc as the Hawks rank No. 5 in three-point percentage on only 18.8 attempts per game.