Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Knicks vs. Warriors Preview

Tonight at 10:30, the Knicks embark on a quest for their second win of the season against the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors are coming off of a win against the Chicago Bulls, but may be without their starting PG Stephen Curry, who re-aggravated his already achy ankle against the Bulls. Curry will be a game-time decision.

For the Knicks, after a rousing victory in their home-opener against the Boston Celtics, will try to move 2-0 for the first time in 10 years. However, their cupboard will be equally bare without the services of Baron Davis (back), Iman Shumpert (sprained MCL), and Jared Jeffries (calf).

Take the jump for some notes on both teams!

It's hard not to be excited to see how the Knicks do tonight after an impressive win over the (albeit, short-handed) Celtics last Sunday. The first half showed the Knicks moving and grooving on offense and communicating and terminating (that's a stretch) on defense. However, the second half they reverted to the old Knicks, and became statues on both ends of the floor, while Boston took advantage.

Even then, it's hard not to be pleased with the way the Knicks recuperated in the fourth quarter. Carmelo Anthony shouldered the load on offense, isolating on the right elbow and abusing whomever dared stop him. And collectively, the Knicks held the hot Celtics to only 17 4th quarter points.

Tonight, they face a somewhat less daunting, but of course, equally dangerous opponent in the Warriors. Here are some things to look out for:
  • What will the rotation look like? We know the starters - Toney Douglas, Landry Fields, Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler - but who will come off the bench? With Shumpert injured and new acquisition Jeremy Lin only a day-old Knickerbocker, Mike Bibby figures to get minutes. With Jeffries out, it seems that Renaldo Balkman and Josh Harrellson are poised to get minutes. Will we get to see Steve Novak?
  • Last game, Amar'e Stoudemire had a quiet, but efficient night (21 points, 8-11 shooting). However, you have to figure his usage rate will go up from the low number we saw on Sunday's game against Boston. Anthony pretty much dominated the ball in that game, and Chandler played the primary roller in the pick-and-roll. Willl Amar'e see more action and be more involved in the offense tonight?
  • Will pre-Melo Landry Fields (PLEASE) show up tonight? We've been waiting, and thus far, it seems each game this crew plays together, Fields gets a smidgen more comfortable. I just really want to see Fields play well, and until he looks like his old self, I'll continue to make this a point of interest.
  • How will Toney Douglas operate tonight? Last game, he looked sharp, scoring 19 points, dishing out 4 assists and swiping 3 steals, with only 2 turnovers. He did take the most shots on the team though (19), and that number should probably come down. However, with Stephen Curry possibly out, it means Toney Douglas should do what Toney Douglas do, and run amuck on the Warriors' floor.
  • Umm... can we see Jeremy Lin play? Please?
Golden State is currently 1-1 with a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, but a win over the Chicago Bulls. As has been mentioned, Steph Curry may be out, which makes the Knicks' task a little easier.

However, the Warriors have retooled their roster a bit, adding sharp-shooting guard Klay Thompson, defensive stalwart Brandon Rush, and Kwame Brown in the middle. Along with Monta Ellis, David Lee, and Dorrell Wright, the Warriors present plenty of problems.
  • Will the Warriors' reflect head coach Mark Jackson's proclaimed defensive philosophies. When Jackson was hired, he stated that he would change the culture of the team and make them play defense. However, aside from a few players, the Warriors don't really have the pieces to do that. But team defense is a different concept altogether; will the Warriors be able to stop the Knicks on offense?
  • Is David Lee still seeking revenge on his former team? Last season, in Lee's first-ever return to the Garden, he dropped 28 points and 10 rebounds in a Warriors victory. In the first tow games of the 2011-12 season, Lee is playing well averaging 21.5 ppg and 9.5 rpg. We'll see if David goes above and beyond to stick it to the Knicks.
  • Is this game going to be a run-and-gun spectacle. Though the Warriors claim to be interested in defense, and the Knicks have slowed the pace down this season with the absence of a true point guard, both teams have histories of getting the ball up and down the floor quickly. Will they revert to those tendencies tonight?
Warriors Scouting Report
  • Dorrell Wright led the NBA last season in 3-pointers made, and excells as a spot-up shooter in the Warriors offense. However, Dorrell has one weakness: tickling. The Knicks' staff is well aware of this flaw, and has had the entire team practice tickling drills in hopes of stopping Wright. Thus far, Steve Novak has been the best tickler, and hopes to draw the defensive assignment.
  • Yesterday, the Warriors signed center Kyrylo Fesenko to the team on a one-year deal. Though Fesenko probably won't play tonight, he has already been active on the team by training with Kwame Brown, who's been giving Fesenko tips on footwork, defense, and how to cook his favorite pregame meal, goldfish sushi. The Warriors staff, however, has been trying to convince Brown and Fesenko that goldfish are pets and not to be used for food.
  • Second year guard, Ish Smith, figures to get more playing time tonight with Stephen Curry out. Fellow backcourt mate, rookie Charles Jenkins, is super happy for Smith, so he placed a glued-together Jenga tower in Smith's locker as a pregame gift in hopes of motivating his friend to play well. When Smith asked what the gift was for, Jenkins just grinned and told him, "There's more where that came from."
Now you're prepared for the Warriors. Last game, the Knicks didn't have to play Paul Pierce, tonight there may not be Stephen Curry, and tomorrow night against the Lakers, Andrew Bynum will be missing. Not a bad way to start the season.

Oh Warriors, come out to plaaaayy!

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