Top 10 Hawks Matchups – #9: Knicks’ First Visit To Philips

Wednesday, August 14, 2013
By Robby Kalland

New York Knicks v Atlanta Hawks

The ninth matchup in our countdown is Atlanta’s first visit from the New York Knicks on Nov. 13, which is also the first appearance of the season for the Hawks on national television. New York’s visit will be just the third home game of the season for the Hawks, and will be the first against a playoff team from last season.

Whenever the Knicks come to town the atmosphere in the building is always electric, and with the first meeting of the season coming on national television there will be an added excitement. The Hawks will be looking to take advantage of the national stage to show to the country that, despite a new coach and roster turnover, they are going to be a factor once again in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

As for the match-up, the Knicks have a similar roster to last season when they were the second seed in the Eastern Conference and the fourth best offensive team in the NBA in points per possession (per Synergy Sports). Their leading scorer Carmelo Anthony and sixth man of the year winner JR Smith return for this season along with Raymond Felton, Tyson Chandler, Iman Shumpert and Amar’e Stoudemire.

The Knicks’ biggest off-season move, aside from re-signing Smith, was trading Steve Novak and Marcus Camby (along with draft picks) for the Toronto Raptors’ Andrea Bargnani. Bargnani gives the Knicks another shooting threat, but will put further defensive burden at the rim on players like Chandler and Kenyon Martin. Bargnani’s addition to the Knicks rotation will likely cause head coach Mike Woodson to move Anthony back to the small forward position despite the success he had at power forward last season. Anthony had his second most efficient season from the field of his career with a 50.2 eFG% despite setting a career-high in usage with an incredible 35.6 USG%. Returning to the small forward position will likely mean more jump-shots and fewer attempts closer to the rim, which will, likely, mean a less efficient year for Anthony and the Knicks offense.

The Hawks, thin at small forward, will have to be creative with their lineups and defensive strategy to match-up with the Knicks’ size and versatility in the front-court. While the Knicks’ front-court versatility could be an advantage for them offensively, the Hawks can take advantage of match-ups they will get when Bargnani and Stoudemire, sub-par defenders, are in the game.

The Hawks will hope that these changes by the Knicks, along with the Hawks’ new-look roster and system, will bring them a different result in 2013-14 from last year. Last season New York swept the season series, winning in all three meetings with the Hawks. With only six appearances on national television, the Hawks will have limited chances to make an impression on a national audience, and a victory over the Knicks would be a great start.

We will continue the countdown with the #8 game on Friday.

Previously in the Top 10 Countdown:

10. Opening Night in Dallas

Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

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