Friday, April 20, 2012

New York Knicks vs. Cleveland Cavaliers Pre-Game News and Notes April 20

Friday April 20th 7:30 P.M. ET
New York Knicks vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

The Knicks awoke tonight to the news that they are now definitely playoff bound.  With the loss suffered by the Milwaukee Bucks last night to the Indiana Pacers, the Knicks locked up a playoff spot for the second consecutive year.  The Knicks cannot take it easy now, as they need wins if they want to win the division or move up the standings.  The Knicks will finish up the regular season by traveling to Atlanta for a game Sunday then finishing up with two home games against the Clippers and Bobcats next week. 

-Team News and Notes

With Amar’e Stoudemire returning to the lineup tonight, moves and decisions had to be made.  Stoudemire will be inserted into the starting lineup from the start, which means someone has to go back to the bench.  Mike Woodson has decided that man will be Landry Fields, leaving Iman Shumpert in the starting lineup along with Baron Davis, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler.  Fields can still be in for big minutes because Davis and Stoudemire will be on minute restrictions to start. 

The Knicks also made some front office decisions today.  Jared Jeffries is expected to sit out the remainder of the regular season in hopes that his knee will heal in time for the playoffs.  With this news, the Knicks made a roster move, signing Dan Gadzuric.  Gadzuric will add a big body and depth to the Knicks for the playoffs and end of the season.  He is very active around the basket and is very aggressive on the boards.  This is something that the Knicks desperately need facing a potential first round match up with the Chicago Bulls. 

To make room for Gadzuric, the Knicks waived Bill Walker.  Walker was just returning from left elbow surgery and had not been receiving minutes upon his return. 

-Get off to a quick start

Much like Wednesday night when the Knicks jumped out to an early 21 point lead over the Nets and cruised to a win, doing the same tonight would be beneficial.  If they jump out to an early start they can ease their way to victory in a game which is expected to be lopsided in favor of the Knicks.  Getting some rest for players like Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler would also be very beneficial for the playoff stretch.

-Maintain Rhythm

The Knicks have been in a nice groove on the offensive end running the offense through Carmelo Anthony.  They must figure out a way to continue this with Amar’e Stoudemire returning to the lineup.  The Knicks at times struggle with both Anthony and Stoudemire on the court together, looking confused and lacking an idea of how to score.  They have a total of four games to start getting it together before the playoffs start. 

-Continued Bench Production

With the playoff now a lock, bench production will become even that more crucial.  The presence of the bench will be very important if the Knicks want to make some noise during the post season.  The Knicks have compiled a very deep bench with the possibility to cause problems for opposing teams.  Specialists like Steve Novak and Jared Jeffries and instant offense from J.R. Smith are all important when it comes to playoff time.  Mike Woodson will be looking to tighten his rotation and really set up playing time and situations for players in these last four games.  

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