Knicks-Timberwolves: What to Watch For

I cannot wait for tonights game. How many times has anyone said that about a Knicks-Timberwolves game? Jeremy Lin has been absolutely amazing in his three starts as a Knick. Lin scored 38 points en route to leading the Knicks to a 92-85 victory over the hated Lakers. Tonight, the Knicks bring a 4 game winning streak into Minnesota against an upstart Timberwolves team.

Here’s what to watch for:

  • Lin versus Rubio. The primetime matchup tonight is a battle between two of the premier young point guards in the game. Jeremy Lin and Ricky Rubio are must see TV. Both players are similar in their ability to distribute the basketball. Tonight should be another great test for Lin. He has already defeated Deron Williams, John Wall, Devin Harris and Kobe Bryant. I think Lin can take Rubio. Rubio has struggled over his last four games, having turned the ball over four times in each game. Like Lin, Rubio will be playing the second game of a back-to-back as Minnesota lost to Dallas last night. Both point guards are capable of having great games tonight, it will depend on which player has more in his legs. Lets see what happens.
  • Knicks must keep Kevin Love off the boards. Kevin Love had a 30 point 30 rebound game against the Knicks last year. Without Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks will not win if Love has another virtuoso performance like this. Jared Jeffries and Tyson Chandler will need to make sure they find Love on long rebounds and missed shots. If you ever watch Love play, he always seems to be in the right place at the right time on rebounds. This is showcased by Love’s 13.6 rebounds per game. The Knicks lost on the boards last night, 48-41. They’ll need to at least keep the rebound battle close if they are going to win tonight. New York also must keep Kevin Love from getting to the free throw line as he is a 92.9% free throw shooter.
  • The Knicks bench must produce. With their stars out, New York’s bench has been helping them immensely during this 4 game winning streak. This must continue tonight against a good, young Minnesota bench. Derrick Williams, JJ Barea, Martel Webster and Michael Beasley are all capable of making a big impact off the bench. New York needs Walker (gulp), Shumpert and Novak to step up and play well tonight.
  • Jared Jeffries needs to continue play well. Last night, Jeffries did a very nice job guarding Pau Gasol. He will have the task of chasing Kevin Love around the court tonight. All season, Jeffries’ defense has been fantastic and he has helped the Knicks defense improve greatly from last season. However, while Jeffries is a defensive player his offense has been very good over the past few games. Jeffries has averaged 8.5 ppg and 7.5 rpg over his last 4 games. With Lin running the show, Jeffries has been able to find some rhythm running the pick and roll and shooting the mid-range shot. I look for Jeffries to continue his quality play.
  • I think Kobe knows who Jeremy Lin is now…
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85Bl3GRdULQ]
  • Last but not least, remember to keep the Stoudemire family in your thoughts and prayers. Amar’e buried his older brother Hazell today and will re-join the team Monday. Events like this always make me put things in perspective. As great as Jeremy Lin is and how great sports are, they are all secondary to real life events. As happy as I am about Lin, I am equally saddened for Amar’e Stoudemire and his family. Stoudemire has worked very hard throughout his life to help his late brother Hazell to get his life back on track and obviously this tragedy is just a horrible horrible event for all involved. RIP Hazell Stoudemire.
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