Last time the two teams met in New York in early February, Amar'e Stoudemire had easily his best game of the season, and the still point guard-less Knicks took Chicago to the buzzer, but ended up losing. Part of what makes these teams' games so intriguing is that no matter how well or poorly one or the other is playing, they match up with each other well. If the standing ssomehow remain the same for the rest of the season, they would meet in the first round.
Take the jump for some notes on what to watch tonight
- AMAR'E STOUDEMIRE!
- As mentioned before, Amar'e Stoudemire had his best game of the season against Chicago, scoring 34 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Part of this is because the slow-footed Carlos Boozer allows Stoudemire to do whatever he wants on offense. Of course, this goes both ways as Carlos Boozer usually does pretty well offensively when he's guarded by Stat. Through five games in March, Amar'e is putting up his best numbers of his season (19 and 9) and was playing well until yesterday's game against Philadelphia. A big game from Stoudemire would cure some of the tension hanging around the team.
- When the Knicks last played Chicago, there was no Jeremy Lin or Baron Davis, so Iman Shumpert was the de facto starting point guard. Now Shumpert comes off the bench and could possibly be used simply to guard Rose on defense. Nobody stops the reigning MVP, but the best hope is to contain him slightly which Lin and Davis have no hopes of.
- There's no doubting that Mike D'Antoni was upset with his team's energy and lack of focus yesterday. He made a pretty bold move sticking Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire on the bench for the entirety of the 4th quarter while the team made a mini (albeit meaningless) run to end the game. Despite what Melo might think, it wasn't to conserve he and Amar'e's energy for tonight. If the team comes out flat, it'll be interesting to see how quickly Mike gets fed up and inserts subs, or even further, inserts the scrubs. Totally intentional rhyme.
- In his press conference yesterday, Mike D'Antoni said he warned his team that the Sixers had the best point differential in the 3rd quarter in the entire NBA. But the Knicks didn't get the message. Each game during this skid, we've seen the Knicks come out completely lackadaisical and lose severe amounts of ground in the game during the 3rd quarter. Chicago is a team that loves to pounce and can balloon a small lead to a big one very quickly. You better believe they'll go for the Knicks' throats after halftime if the game is still within reach. The Knicks have to be ready.
This one could get scary, ladies and gentlemen. Prepare yourselves. Game time is at 8, remember!