Knicks vs. Pistons 7:30 PM
Where to Watch: MSG
Where to Listen: ESPN 1050 AM
New York: For the first time since interim head coach Mike Woodson took over, the Knicks were unable to find the win column with a loss to the Raptors on Friday. Uncharacteristically, New York’s new defensive persona was missing in Toronto but the Knicks vowed to mirror the mindset during the five-game winning streak and get back to dominant basketball on their home floor. With the New York loss and Milwaukee win on Friday, the Knicks are now 23-25 overall and just a half game up on the Bucks for the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Philadelphia also notched a victory on Friday, padding its four-game lead over New York in the chase for the Atlantic Division crown. Jared Jeffries is questionable for tonight, which is a severe setback, considering his role as the defensive anchor for the second unit. Jeffries is suffering from a sore knee and will be evaluated over the next couple of days in New York.
Detroit: In a 16-31 season for the Pistons, there have been slight pockets of progress under head coach Lawrence Frank. For instance, the team posted a three-game winning streak with victories over the Lakers, Hawks, and Raptors in early March. With a young team in rebuilding mode, the dip in play is expected as seen in the recent four-game slide heading into the contest against the Knicks tonight. Detroit has racked up major miles with five of its last six games on the road and its next four away from the Palace. From an injury standpoint, guard Rodney Stuckey is suffering from a sore left big toe and has missed the last two games. His status is questionable for tonight’s matchup against New York, which should allow more time for backup guard Will Bynum off the bench.
Last Time Out
New York: The Knicks fell to the Raptors 96-79 on Friday night in their first loss in five games.
Toronto: Last night, the mighty Miami Heat dropped the Pistons 88-73 behind Dwyane Wade’s 24 points, Chris Bosh’s nine boards, and LeBron James’ 10 assists.
The Numbers Game
Amar’e Stoudemire is hitting 51.8 percent of his shots from the floor over the last five games. The power forward has adjusted his game by attempting to damage his opponents deep in the paint as opposed to settling for perimeter jumpers.
Match-up to Watch
Tyson Chandler vs. Greg Monroe
Most young players struggle to find consistency when ascending to the NBA. In a breakout career year for 21-year old center Greg Monroe, that seems to be the case with a month left in the season. Monroe is averaging 16.3 points and 9.9 rebounds in 2011-12 but the versatile big man has failed to register 14 or more points in seven of the 10 games in March. With that said, Monore will garner major attention from Tyson Chandler and the Knicks frontline defenders. He is a gifted 6-foot-11 center with exceptional passing skill and an improved offensive game.
What to Look For
The Knicks are in must-win mode for the remainder of the season as they look to secure a playoff spot and a potential division crown. Friday’s defeat to Toronto was a minor step back and snapped New York’s five-game winning streak. In a rare lackluster defensive performance against the Raptors, Woodson’s crew will need to respond in a big way to regain confidence and swagger before Milwaukee and Orlando enter MSG next week. Inside the locker room in Toronto on Friday night, Chandler chalked up the loss to “one of those games” and said the Raptors zone created major issues for their offense. New York’s defensive leader also stated the team will make the necessary adjustments to get back in the win column on Saturday. The Knicks backcourt will have to be aware of Ben Gordon as the guard is capable of monster offensive performances. Just three days ago, Gordon exploded for 45 points and the former Connecticut standout will certainly search for another impactful game at the Garden.