Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Los Angeles Clippers vs. New York Knicks Pre-Game News and Notes April 25

Wednesday, April 25, 2012 8:00 P.M. ET
Los Angeles Clippers vs. New York Knicks

The playoff picture for the Knicks should be much clearer after Wednesday night’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers.  The Knicks have already secured a playoff spot, currently tied for 7th with the Philadelphia 76ers for 7th place in the Eastern Conference with two games remaining.  That can all change depending on the results of tonight’s game.

For starters, if the Magic win all talk of moving up to the 6th seed ends.  7th would be as high as the Knicks could be seeded.  But, if the Knicks win and the Magic lose, the Knicks stay in 7th for the night, keeping alive the chance of moving up to 6th place.  It would then take another Magic lose tomorrow night in addition to a Knicks win for them to complete the jump and move into 7th place.  The only way the Knicks can fall below 7th is if they lose and the 76ers win tonight.  Holding the tiebreaker over Philadelphia, any tie would result in the Knicks receiving the higher seed.

-Injury News and Updates
There will be restrictions on the Knicks tonight.  They are expected to play their full allotment of healthy players like any other game.  The only player not playing is Jared Jeffries, who is resting his sore knee for the playoffs.  Tyson Chandler, after missing Sunday afternoon’s game in Atlanta will be returning to the lineup and is a go tonight. 

News is not as light-hearted for the visiting Clippers.  They could be without All-Star Point Guard Chris Paul for tonight’s game.  Paul suffered a left groin strain last night in Atlanta.  Paul is considered to be a legitimate game-time decision, and is doing everything in his power to get into the lineup for the game against the Knicks. 

-Contain the High Flying Clippers

The Knicks will have their hands full tonight with high flying big men Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.  Both Griffin and Jordan look to roll to the basket every time down the court so they can finish with thunderous alley-oop dunks.  If Chris Paul is indeed capable of playing tonight, it will make it that much more difficult on the Knicks.  Paul is a master in the pick-and-roll game and has shown that time and time again throughout the season with the highlight plays he has been a part of with Griffin and Jordan.

-Attack, Attack, Attack

The Clippers are playing their second game in as many nights with travel from Atlanta to New York in between.  Fatigue this late in the season is usually a factor, even more so when you have to play on multiple nights in a row.  The Knicks have to come out aggressive, feeding the big horses Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire early and often to set the tone in tonight’s game.  Running the offense throughout Anthony first is the best option for the Knicks with Stoudemire and the rest of the team playing off of him.  Anthony is a capable creator when given the opportunity.

-Continue to Build Chemistry

Amar’e Stoudemire will play in his third game tonight since returning from a back injury that kept him out nearly a month.  Only one of those games though has been played with both Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler in the lineup.  The Knicks have to continue working out the wrinkles because they are a much more dangerous team when all three of them are playing up to their abilities.  They have tonight and tomorrow night in Charlotte to figure some things out.

The biggest problem for the three of them has been spacing.  At time it seems like they are playing tentatively, afraid that they might step on the others toes in a sense.  The most problems seem to come with 
Chandler and Stoudemire, as both players are best suited for the pick-and-roll game.  

The best way around this in my opinion would be to have Anthony run the pick-and-roll with both players.  Anthony is a capable passer when he wants to be and Stoudemire and Chandler are even more capable finishers at the rim. 

Another thing that would help is Stoudemire getting his jump shot down.  If he is able to knock down the elbow extended jumper the offense would open up that much more.  That would allow for Chandler to be the pick setter and Stoudemire to spot up.  Defenses will have to watch Chandler rolling to the basket because of his ability of finishing around the basket.  This will have defenses sagging off Stoudemire some, 
making for easy opportunities for everyone in the offense.

Getting both of them involved in the offense will be key; it is much harder to stop both of them compared to guarding one or the other.  Not just one player, but the team as a whole will be responsible for making that happen. 

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