Knicks @ Magic 7 PM
Where to Watch: MSG
Where to Listen: ESPN 1050 AM
New York: On Wednesday afternoon, the Knicks spent a considerable amount of time on the practice floor in Orlando. After watching film for the first portion of the session, the team ran through sets to prepare for the Magic and a potential bounce back performance following the loss in Indiana. The Knicks are 27-27, just one game ahead of Milwaukee for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference postseason race. This upcoming week might be the important set of four games for New York this season with contests against Orlando, Chicago twice, and the final matchup in Milwaukee next Wednesday. Despite the recent setback and the Knicks struggles on the road, the squad is 7-3 over its last 10 games. New York will be without Amar’e Stoudemire (back), Jeremy Lin (knee), and Jared Jeffries (knee) on Thursday night.
Orlando: The loss to the Knicks on March 28 started a freefall for the Magic as they have dropped four straight games heading into Thursday’s contest. In two of the four defeats, Dwight Howard was not in uniform due to back spasms and he will be a gametime decision against New York. The injuries are mounting up for Orlando as Ryan Anderson suffered a right ankle sprain on Sunday and will not play on Thursday. Jameer Nelson is dealing with sore left calf but he could return to help his team snap a four-game losing skid. The next six of 10 games are on the road for the Magic as they currently hold the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference standings.
Last Time Out
New York: The Knicks allowed 40 fourth quarter points in a 112-104 loss to the Pacers despite 39 points from Carmelo Anthony.
Orlando: On Tuesday night, the Magic fell to Detroit 102-95 without Howard in the lineup.
The Numbers Game
New York has defeated its opponents by an average of 19 points per game following a defeat under interim head coach Mike Woodson.
Match-up to Watch
Tyson Chandler vs. Dwight Howard
Tyson Chandler and the Knicks frontline have done a remarkable job against arguably the most dominant force in the league. Howard has only averaged 10 points and 7.5 rebounds in the two meetings this year. This output is a stark contrast to Howard’s season averages of 20.9 points and 14.5 boards per game. While the Magic’s All-Star may not play on Thursday, New York must control the paint in order to snatch the season series. Chandler will need to frustrate Howard once again and continue his efficient play on the blocks with Stoudemire sidelined.
"We always bounce back with a resolve and a tenacity and that's what we expect to do against Orlando.” – Baron Davis
What to Look For
Orlando is missing a major component to its offense without Anderson in the lineup. As a stretch 4, Anderson allows Howard to operate in the paint and forces the opposing team to chase him on the perimeter. New York will have to keep any eye on Glen “Big Baby” Davis after he unexpectedly dropped 31 points, 10 rebounds, three steals, and a block on Tuesday night.
The Magic have not lost five straight games in five years and one would expect a valiant effort on their home floor. On the opposite side, the Knicks focused their attention on the fourth quarter collapse from Tuesday and vowed to learn from the experience. As highlighted in the Numbers section, Woodson’s bunch has been resilient following losses. This particular game is huge, considering the Bucks won on Wednesday, narrowing the gap to just one game.