Friday, March 30, 2012

New York Knicks vs. Atlanta Hawks Pre-Game News and Notes March 30

Friday March 30th 7:30 P.M. ET 
New York Knicks vs. Atlanta Hawks 

The Knicks go down to Atlanta to play a tough Hawks team after coming off what is probably their best victory this season, a 108-86 blowout of the Orlando Magic. Mike Woodson also returns to face the team he was the head coach of for 6 seasons. Even with how shorthanded the Knicks have been recently because of injuries, they still find themselves in the thick of the Atlantic Division race. The Knicks are heading into Atlanta winners of 8 of their last 9 games since Woodson took over and are fully aware of how important tonight’s game is. 

-Can Melo Continue To Carry the Team? 

Carmelo Anthony again will be counted on to keep the team afloat on the offensive end with Jeremy Lin to miss yet another game. Tonight Anthony will also have his hands full the entire game having to go against Josh Smith. Smith presents the toughest match-up for the Knicks because of the impact he has on both ends of the court in the game. Anthony will have to have another strong performance on the defensive end. 

-Control the Paint 

The Knicks are going to have to gang-rebound tonight against a tough Hawks team. The Hawks have banger Zaza Pachulia at Center with Al Horford injured and Josh Smith at power forward. The Knicks will need to have a collected team effort on the boards to try and slow those two down. Playing a smaller lineup makes it a tougher task, so players such as Landry Fields and Carmelo Anthony are going to have to step up their rebounding game. 

-Bomb Squad 

The bench has been playing very strongly since Mike Woodson has come on board, and they will look to continue their hot play tonight in Atlanta. Steve Novak and J.R. Smith lead the bench in scoring while Josh Harrellson brings toughness on defense and much needed rebounding. Any contribution from Mike Bibby is an added bonus, as he will likely spell Baron Davis for stretches tonight as he is moved into the starting lineup for a 3rd game because of the absence of Jeremy Lin. 

-Finishing Strong 

Throughout the last 3 games, the Knicks have had 1 quarter in the game they dominated, leading them to victory. They take control of game, and are able to build off that performance. The in game Wednesday against the Magic the Knicks took control in the 2nd quarter, and never took their foot off the gas going on a 21-0 run in the 3rd quarter. Another area that needs to improve is the play coming out of halftime. For whatever reason, the Knicks struggle in the 3rd quarter, something that needs to be improved upon. They had a dominant 3rd quarter Wednesday, so hopefully they can carry that into the game tonight against the Hawks. 

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