Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Knicks vs. Atlanta Hawks - Preview

Tonight at 7:30 the Knicks take on the Atlanta Hawks in their night of a five-game homestand at MSG. This is the first time the two teams have met this year after splitting the season series last year. The Knicks and Hawks currently stand on opposite ends of the spectrum as New York has won eight of their ten games, and Atlanta has lost seven of their last ten.

As mentioned earlier, Joe Johnson will be out for the Atlanta Hawks. For the Knicks, Iman Shumpert will be out as he tries to get his knee all fixed up. In some ways, this game is more important for the Knicks than tomorrow's game against the Heat. The Knicks need to prove that they can beat solid, middle-of-the-pack playoff teams before trying to prove they're one of the elite teams in the East.

Jump for some things to watch for tonight and a scouting report!

  • I'm not one to buy into the fear that Jeremy Lin and Carmelo Anthony can't mesh, but it's an intriguing storyline nonetheless (rhymes!). In Monday's game against the Nets, Carmelo's shot and handle looked rusty, but there definitely wasn't any ball-stopping. In fact, he even had 6 assists, some of which beautiful. However, both guys looked a little tentative and unsure of their roles, especially in crunch time. If it makes you feel better, Melo said this after the game:   
    "I want Jeremy to have the ball. Hands down. I want him to create for me. I want him to create for Amar'e (Stoudemire). I want him to create for everybody and still be as aggressive as he's been over the past two weeks. I want that."

  • Much has been made about Amar'e Stoudemire's struggles this season, and I'm not going to even begin to act like I know the root of them (though I expect it's a multitude of things). Tonight he faces the multifarious Josh Smith (who should be an All-Star). Smith's offense can be criticized, but he's an explosive effective scorer when he wants to be. He is a tremendous defender though, and seeing as how Amar'e's shot gets blocked like, all the time, it should be interesting to see how he performs tonight.
  • The Knicks bench managed 19 points (if I'm not mistaken) against New Jersey tonight, but Steve Novak and J.R. Smith were still not the offensive sparkplugs they needed to be. We'll see if Smith can become a little more familiar with the Knicks offense, and likewise, it would be great to see Baron Davis get a little more floor time to get assimilated with the team. Novak's accuracy from 3-point range can make a huge difference for this team.

Atlanta Hawks Scouting Report
 - Jason Collins has had to be reminded several times by his teammates that there is no "Jerry's Steakhouse", only Jerry Stackhouse, and that he is not edible either.

 - Kirk Hinrich wears goggles while playing, but they're not to protect his eyes like Amar'e Stoudemire's goggles. Instead, Hinrich's goggles have x-ray vision that allow him to visually measure the beats per minute of his opponent's heart. From there, he decides on his attack.

 - Vladimir Radmanovic, the team's music buff, has given some of his teammates music-related nicknames. Willie Green is "Big Willie Style", Zaza Pachula is "Radio Za Za", and he has even nicknamed himself "Vlady GaGa".  

Get ready for the Hawks! The Knicks keep licking around the .500 rim, and have a good opportunity to get back to there tonight by beating a short-handed team. Go Knicks!

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