Scouting Report: New York Knicks
For already the third time this season, the Hawks and Knicks will face off. Saturday’s game will be the second and final meeting in Madison Square Garden, where Atlanta won 110-90 last month.
Already without big man Tyson Chandler due to injury, the Knicks were dealt another blow this week, losing starting point guard Raymond Felton for a few weeks due to a sore hamstring. In steps rookie Tim Hardaway Jr., who has actually done well in the two games against the Hawks this season, averaging 11 points on 53 percent shooting. He was supposed to make his first career start last night in Boston but played just nine minutes off the bench instead, going scoreless.
If he starts again tonight at the point guard spot, it’ll be a bit of a mismatch. Jeff Teague is quicker, but Hardaway is bigger, so we’ll see if the Knicks try to take advantage of that by posting him up as other teams have done to Teague. If it’s Pablo Prigioni, Teague will have to keep an eye on the jump shot, because he’s a streaky shooter who is selective but can get hot from three.
Obviously the offense goes through Carmelo Anthony. The reigning scoring champ is averaging 26 points on 44 percent shooting, but he’s struggling from three (33%). If Kenyon Martin starts, it’ll likely be DeMarre Carroll who draws Anthony, and there’s no easy way to defend him. Give him space and he’ll shoot over you, but get too close and he’ll drive and try to draw contact. Anthony loves getting to the free throw line (165 attempts), so the key if he drives will be to help and make him give it up. The Hawks made it difficult for the All-Star in the first two games, holding him to 37 percent shooting. If they do that again, they should be in good shape.
The other guy you have to watch in this offense is Andrea Bargnani. Though is field goal percentage is low for a center, he can stretch the defense because of his range, and he’s played two good games against Atlanta.
Offensively, the Hawks will need to keep the ball moving and the motion offense going. Mike Woodson did a nice job adjusting to Atlanta’s pick-and-roll offense in game one at Philips Arena, but the Hawks put up 110 with various sets and ball movement in game two. New York has been playing better defense of late, and that’s what can keep them in games.
The Knicks are 10 games under .500 and looking for answers. With Chandler and Felton out, and A’mare Stoudemire likely sitting to rest because of a back-to-back, this is a good opportunity for the Hawks to build on the momentum of last night’s big overtime win.
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