Knicks vs. Blazers 7:30 PM
Where to Watch: MSG
Where to Listen: ESPN 1050 AM
New York: Still searching for a win in the month of March, the Knicks will enter Wednesday’s game with a sense of urgency. The No. 8 spot in the Eastern Conference standings has become a dogfight as New York and Milwaukee are tied for the final position and Cleveland only trails by one game. The Bucks also own a 2-0 series lead on the Knicks after a victory this past Friday at the Bradley Center. After facing the Blazers on Wednesday, the Knicks will not face another Western Conference squad until April 25, a remarkable stretch of 22 games. A major missing piece for New York’s second unit is Jared Jeffries, who remains questionable for the matchup against Portland. Jeffries would be a welcome sight for a Knicks team that is looking for another scrappy, defensive presence off the bench.
Portland: Out West, the Blazers find themselves in a similar situation as New York, looking at the standings and examining their playoff destiny. At 20-22, Portland sits two games behind the Rockets for the No. 8 pot in the Western Conference. In fact, the separation from the No. 13 team to the Lakers at No. 3 is only 6.5 games, setting up an incredible finish to the regular season. The Blazers have an extremely difficult three contests to conclude their current seven-game road trip. On Wednesday Portland faces New York followed by Chicago and Oklahoma City on Sunday night.
Last Time Out
New York: In a hard fought contest, the Knicks fell 104-99 on Monday night in Chicago. Carmelo Anthony scored 21 points and Tyson Chandler grabbed 10 boards.
Portland: While only managing 15 points in the first quarter and 14 in the third, the Blazers were dropped 92-75 in Indiana on Tuesday night.
The Numbers Game
There is quite a disparity between Portland’s home and road records. At the Rose Garden, the Blazers are 14-7 and just 6-15 when playing outside of Portland.
Match-up to Watch
Amar’e Stoudemire vs. LaMarcus Aldridge
LaMarcus Aldridge has matched a career-best average of 21.8 points per game while reaching his first All-Star game this past February. The Blazers big man is dynamic on the offensive side of the floor with a consistent jumper from 18 feet. On the blocks, Aldridge can be dangerous as he owns a variety of moves and a long wingspan to shoot over frontline defenders. For New York, one of the bright spots in the recent losing skid is the performance of Amar’e Stoudemire. Over the last five games, Stoudemire is averaging 20 points per game, 7.4 boards, and shooting 57.6 percent from the floor. As seen in the third quarter of Monday’s game against Chicago, Stoudemire can catch fire from the field and he is also a threat to damage opponents just outside the free throw line.
What to Look For
Portland will head into Wednesday’s contest on the tail end of a back-to-back after suffering a 17-point blowout loss to the Pacers. The Knicks enjoyed a day off to regroup before hitting the floor in an attempt to reverse their recent play. A key statistic to watch is the battle on the boards as the Blazers only rank No. 18 in rebounds per game. Offensive rebounds and second chance points doomed New York in its last outing against the Bulls on Monday. In order to capture a victory at the Garden, the Knicks must control the glass and dominate all the effort categories.