Wednesday, January 11, 2012

New York Knicks vs. Philadelphia 76ers - Preview

Tonight at 7:30, the Knicks meet a stout division foe in the streaking Philadelphia 76ers. Both teams are riding little streaks with the Knicks winning their past three games and the Sixers winning their past six in a row.

The young and spritely Sixers will present some problems for the Knicks with their athleticism, spacing, depth, and gritty defense. However, while the Sixers boast a daunting record, their schedule has been fairly easy, and they lack a true go-to player that the Knicks possess in two-fold.

Take the jump for some notes!

There have been some nice trends during this Knicks win streak, but the team still has a lot of work to do. Among the good things is Amar'e Stoudemire's resurgence as a basket-attacker (which is considered a bad label in Easter Bunny communities) and his rediscovery of this thing called the "rebound".

Also good is Tyson Chandler coming into his own on the Knicks. Slowly but surely, the defense is starting to tighten up and Chandler is the leader of that charge. Likewise, on offense, Chandler is in sync with his teammates, particularly Carmelo Anthony, finishing alley-oops (I'm old school, I don't say "lobs") and successfully finishing pick-and-rolls, though I suppose that's more on the passer. Either way, Tyson is playing about as well as he was advertised when they signed him.

Here are some things to look for:
  • BENCH PLAY! Last game against the Bobcats, the New York Knicks' bench was non-existent as Toney Douglas continued to struggle, Mike Bibby's knee acted up, and Josh Harrellson and Bill Walker just didn't score. Three points last game. 3. THREE! That absolutely needs to improve.
  • With all due respect to Brandon Knight and D.J. Augustin, Iman Shumpert is going to face some serious guard play tonight, going against a similarly big guard in Jrue Holiday. Knight and Augustin are both talented guards, but in Shump's starts, he had quite a height advantage on his two opponents. Tonight he'll have his hands full with a big, talented guard.
  • How is the Melo man's health? Carmelo has an upset back and hip, and it showed as his shot has been consistently inconsistent in the past two games. He's made up for that by averaging 6.5 assists, but tonight he'll play against the likes of Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young, and Evan Turner, so the Knicks will need Melo to be on his A-game.
  • Toney Douglas and Mike Bibby are both somewhat banged up - shoulder and knee, respectively. However, last game, neither one did anything of value on the court, and didn't see much time because of it. Beforehand, Bibby had begun to find his stroke from the outside, but Toney had seen his minutes dwindle dramatically as he just cannot produce from the point guard position. We'll see tonight whether Toney or Bibby get minutes and can provide the Knicks with good play at the point.

Sixers Scouting Report
  • Inspired by point guard Jrue Holiday's improved scoring, shooting, and defense, teammates Andre Iguodala and Andres Nocioni are trying to change their names to Anjre and Anjres.
  • Rookie center Nikola Vucevic has lots of talent, particularly on offense with his sweet jumpshot. However he's been lacking confidence, especially because of the hazing from teammates Elton Brand and Tony Battie, who demand that Vucevic carry around cough drops, and constantly call him by yelling, "Niiiikoooollaaaaaaa" through an alpenhorn.
  • Louis Williams is a dynamic scoring guard off the bench, but he's not the brightest member of the Sixers. Teammates have been getting fed up with Williams's attempts to hit on Jodie Meeks, who he's never actually seen, but is intrigued by the name.

Well, that's it! We're ready for the 76ers! Go Knicks! This is a big one!

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