Game Preview

Game Preview 12/18: Knicks at Kings

The New York Knickerbockers return to action tonight as they take on the Sacramento Kings (or Queens if you are Shaq) in Sacramento and continue their western swing. The Knicks are coming off a thrilling win in Phoenix on Wednesday night thanks to a J.R. Smith buzzer beater. Smith also hit the game tying shot moments before. The Knicks got 50 points combined from Smith and Jason Kidd on a night where they were without Carmelo Anthony and Raymond Felton. Felton is out 4-6 weeks with a broken pinkie and Anthony is still listed as day-to-day, and is unsure if he will give it a go tonight. Leave it to the Lakers to hurt Carmelo yet again.

The Knicks did get some solid minutes out of Marcus Camby, a good sign going forward as they need depth up front especially with the length of Rasheed Wallace’s absence being unknown. Pablo Prigioni will also need to see extended minutes with Felton out, and this is a good stretch to evaluate just how deep the Knicks are as a team.

Based on Carmelo’s comments and saying he was barely able to walk yesterday, I am going to assume he is going to sit out tonight. The Kings aren’t exactly the best team in the league and they were without Demarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans in their last game. The Kings have the second to worst record in the Western Conference and have been just a mess all year. Cousins was suspended indefinitely a week ago for conduct detrimental to the team, a.k.a whining and complaining over and over again. He was reinstated to the team but did not play in their previous game as clearly him and head coach Keith Smart do not see eye to eye.

So the Knicks head into Sacramento a little banged up with a record of 21-8, and should go in and take care of business. The Kings are just 3-7 in their last 10, and rank in the bottom of the league in both offensive and defensive efficiency. If the Kings are going to be without their top two players in Cousins and Evans then the Knicks should have no problem getting win number 22. If Cousins does play then Chandler and Camby will both have their hands full with the young big man as he is one of the top big guys in the game when keeping his head. It will be key for Chandler to stay out of foul trouble, and to work Marcus Camby into the rotation.

 

Follow Brian on Twitter @bcoles1029

 

Knicks-Nets: What to Watch For

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The Knicks travel back to the Barclays Center tonight to take on the Nets in the second meeting of the NBA’s newest rivalry. The Nets won the first chapter of this saga in overtime, 96-89, back on Nov. 25 in Brooklyn where the Knicks were without Jason Kidd, but both teams have gone in different directions since that game. The Knickerbockers have won six of seven since the road loss to the Nets, while the Nets have dropped four straight games including three in a row at home. Tonight marks the end of a four-game home stand for the Nets, and the Knicks would love nothing more than to give them an 0-4 home trip at the Barclays.

Brook Lopez has missed the last five games for the Nets and  will miss tonight’s game as well. Lopez killed the Knicks in the first meeting with 22 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks. On the flip side, Tyson Chandler has been on a tear recently, averaging 15 points, 10 rebounds and shooting over 75% from the field in his last 10 contests. He torched the Nets for 28 and 10 in the last meeting, and with no Lopez tonight, Chandler could be due for a huge game. He and Felton have developed a great chemistry and the high pick and roll, and even Felton’s drives to the basket that go for misses turn into assists for Chandler.

The Knicks and Nets currently sit atop the Atlantic Division standings, with the Knicks holding a 3 ½ game lead and the top seed in the Eastern Conference. It is the latest the Knicks have been first in the conference since the 1994 season when they went to the Finals. With the rest of the division struggling a bit it’s a great chance for the Knicks to really put a stranglehold on it. I still think the Knicks and Nets are the two best teams in the division, and tonight is a statement game for both teams.

The impact of this game goes deeper than just the standings, for obvious reasons. All clichés aside, the Nets want to be the dominant team in New York, and are still the only Eastern Conference team to beat the Knicks. A rivalry has started and the Knicks need to claim their first victory in the battle of New York.

Heres what to watch for: More