Sunday, April 22, 2012

New York Knicks vs. Atlanta Hawks Pre-Game News and Notes April 22

Sunday April 22nd
New York Knicks vs. Atlanta Hawks

The Knicks suffered a debilitating loss on Friday night at the hands of the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers and look to bounce back against the Hawks Sunday afternoon.  This is the 3rd meeting of the season between the Knicks and Hawks, with each team winning on their home court in the previous match-ups.  It will be interesting to see how much energy and effort are put into the game because both teams are pretty much locked into their current spots in the playoffs with such a little amount of time left in the season.

-Playoff Picture

The Knicks now have a slim to none chance of moving up in the standings with only 2 games left after Sunday afternoon.  They no longer control their own destiny, needing the Magic and Celtics to both lose all of their remaining games in addition to the Knicks not losing for seeding to change in a positive manner.

The Knicks could conceivable move down in the standings, which may not be a bad thing. They currently hold the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference, matched up against the Miami Heat.  This brings up an interesting debate to be had.  Do the Knicks play out the season and most likely get matched up against the Heat, or do they tank games and allow the Philadelphia 76ers to move ahead of them making for a series against the Chicago Bulls?  Seeing how things go in Atlanta will be a good indicator in which direction Mike Woodson will have the Knicks heading. 

Players are confident in the team and are saying they do not care who they match up with.  Tyson Chandler is just fine with facing the Heat in the first round.  "I'm OK with it," Chandler said earlier this week. "They've beaten us, obviously, every game that we've played them. But I don't feel like we've necessarily made the adjustments to that team. That's a team that you have to make adjustments (to) and make them pay for how aggressive they are. And we haven't done that yet in any of the games that we've played. We have to be willing to, if that's our match-up, to sit down, break down tape and really focus in." 

Chandler is not alone in not caring about match-ups, as the same sentiment can be felt by Jared Jeffries.  "If we keep shooting the ball the way we are, then definitely we're one of the top teams," Jeffries said Friday afternoon on ESPN New York 1050's "Ruocco & Lundberg" show. "I think against Miami's defense, I think you have to have a team that can shoot the ball very well. The way we're shooting the ball right now from outside, I think it'll be hard for a team like Miami to show on pick-and-rolls and rotate early to get to our shooters. So I think we're definitely one of the teams that they would be concerned about." 

-Continued Work to Cohesion

The game against the Cavaliers Friday night was a disaster right from the start with the Knicks looking out of whack on the offensive end and lacking the same intensity and cohesion they have been showing in recent games on the defensive end.  One reason behind this could be the return of Amar’e Stoudemire.  The Knicks need to get him up to speed and quick.  They are a much more dangerous team with him no matter how well Carmelo Anthony played when he put the team on his back.

For Carmelo Anthony, he needs to again readjust.  The Knicks play well when the offense runs through him and he gets touches every possession.  They need to continue to do that even with the return of Stoudemire.  They were unable to do that consistently enough on Friday, as Anthony had the same amount of shot attempts in the 2nd half as points after the 1st quarter, which was one.  

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