The Magic currently sit comfortably as the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference having won their last three games and seven of their last ten. In the Knicks' last meeting with the Magic it was a back-and-forth affair that came down to the 4th quarter where Orlando started raining 3-pointers. Tonight the Knicks will look to tighten that up and continue their highly defensive ways.
Take the jump for some notes on what to watch for!
- GUARD THE PERIMETER, OBVIOUSLY!
- Ryan Anderson hit seven 3-pointers and scored a career high 30 points against the Knicks in their previous meeting. He leads the NBA in 3-pointers made this season, but the Magic also possess long-ball threats in Hedo Turkoglu, Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson, and J.J. Reddick. Assuming Smith plays for the Knicks, they'll have Baron Davis, Mike Bibby, Toney Douglas, Iman Shumpert, Landry Fields, Carmelo Anthony, and Steve Novak to help try and guard the perimeter. That's not too shabby of a cast, but of course it will depend on the next point...
- Dwight Howard, easily the best center in the NBA, is the focal point of the Magic's offense, and when he's rolling, it opens up opportunities for their shooters. Last game, however, Howard was held to 8 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out because Tyson Chandler is a beast. Chandler seems to be able to contain Howard by himself, but the key is to avoid fouling him. If Chandler gets in foul trouble, Josh Harrellson and Jerome Jordan will be sent to the slaughter and things could get really ugly.
- Carmelo Anthony has spoken a lot in recent days about having to be the man for the Knicks and step up his game with Amar'e Stoudemire out for 2-4 weeks. Anthony had 28 points and 12 rebounds against the Bucks last Monday, but most of his scoring came from his 12-12 FT shooting; he still missed some easy shots. The Magic don't have any elite wing defenders to contain Melo, so he should have his way. Of course, the rest of the team needs to get on track too. Baron Davis and J.R. Smith need to shape up their shooting, Landry Fields is due for a Landry game, and we might even get some contributions from Toney Douglas tonight! Getting Steve Novak open looks would be a huge plus as well.
- Since Mike Woodson took over for Mike D'Antoni, the Knicks have been playing the stingiest defense in the league. Yes, you read the correctly. The Magic are not a potent offense team, once being held to 59 points by the Chicago Bulls! If the Knicks can't get their offense going, they need to defend with the same vigor that we saw in games against the Sixers and Bucks.
This one is on ESPN tonight at 7, which is a time change! The Knicks could really use this victory to keep up in the race for the Atlantic Division and to keep holding off the Milwaukee Bucks who won last night. Go Knicks!