Monday, February 6, 2012

Knicks vs. Jazz - Preview

Tonight at 7:30, the Knicks take on the Utah Jazz for their first and only meeting of the season. The Knicks are coming off of a rousing win over the New Jersey Nets, led by the surprisingly dominant performance of Jeremy Lin.

The Jazz meanwhile have had a surprising start to the season, winning 13 of their first 22 games. Riddled with young, promising talent, but lacking currently up-to-speed leaders, the Jazz weren't considered playoff contenders. However they currently sit at 5th seed in the Western Conference and have surprised opponents with their total team effort.

Take the jump for some notes!

As mentioned earlier, Amar'e Stoudemire went home to Orlando to be with his family after his brother's death. Jared Jeffries will start in his place, and Jeremy Lin will get his first NBA start at point guard! With that in mind, here's what I'll be looking for:

  • It's unrealistic to expect Jeremy to play like he did against the Nets, but it will be very interesting to see how performs in his first NBA start. Can he continue to do point guard-like things, such as driving the lane, running the pick-and-roll, and setting up teammates? Best case scenario, Lin proves to be a rotation-worthy guard, and a substitute while we wait for Baron Davis. Worst case scenario, Lin stinks and we're back to dealing with Shumpert, Douglas, and Bibby.
  • Amar'e is out and Jeffries is in. Surely, that will improve the Knicks defense, but on offense that will be a big step backwards, especially since Amar'e is starting to find his groove. Tyson Chandler has had a few good scoring performances this season, as has Bill Walker. Likewise, with Jeffries no longer coming off the bench, does that mean we'll see more time from Renaldo Balkman or Steve Novak? Maybe even some Jerome Jordan!
  • Between Al Jefferson, Paul Milsap, Derrick Favors, and Enes Kanter, the Jazz have a nice rotation of power forwards and centers. The first three can all be dynamic scorers, and with the Knicks' frontcourt slightly short-handed, it will be interesting to see if the likes of Chandler, Jeffries, and Melo (?) can stop any of those dudes.

Utah Jazz Scouting Report

 - Versatile forward Paul Milsap, who's from Louisianna Tech, demands that rookie Alec Burks cook him southern specialty foods like barbecued ribs and pork for his halftime meal. He also makes Gordon Hayward sing "southern classics like 'Free Bird'" to get him in the zone.

 - Devin Harris, the starting PG for the Jazz, has had a difficult beginning to the season. Because of this, backup Earl Watson has been trying to convince him to take on a new identity as Devin "Holmes" to try and revive his game, and also to form a PG rotation of Holmes and Watson.

 - As the oldest member on the Jazz, Raja Bell - the team's grittiest defender - feels it's his responsibility to constantly remind the team that the Utah Jazz used to be the New Orleans Jazz, and that the inappropriate, misplaced title of their team makes their games and accomplishments "completely insignificant".

Hey, no we're all ready for the Jazz! A win tonight would give the Knicks their first back-to-back victories since wins over the Pistons and 76ers. Go Knicks!

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