Thursday, April 5, 2012

New York Knicks vs. Orlando Magic Pre-Game News and Notes April 5

Thursday, April 5th 7:00 P.M. ET 
New York Knicks vs. Orlando Magic 

The Knicks look to bounce back tonight against a banged up Orlando Magic team after a disappointing loss on Tuesday against the Pacers. At 27-27 the Knicks are only 1 game ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks for 8th place in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks will need to forget about what happened in the 4th quarter Tuesday and just concentrate on the Magic tonight. This is the start of very important games in the next week for the Knicks, who after tonight play a home and home series with the Chicago Bulls and play the Milwaukee Bucks next Wednesday. The Knicks have struggled on the road throughout the season, but that has not deterred them much recently, having a record of 7-3 in their last 10 games. 

-Injury Updates 

For what seems like the first time all season, the Knicks will play against a team with their own injury problems mounting. The Knicks will again be without key pieces Jeremy Lin and Amar’e Stoudemire for a few weeks, but Jared Jeffries could play as soon as this weekend. The Magic have their own problems, as Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson are both listed as questionable for tonight. (Update, Dwight Howard is expected to play against the Knicks tonight.) Doubtful for the Magic is starting Power Forward Ryan Anderson. If he is indeed unable to go, look for Glen “Big Baby” Davis to replace him in the starting lineup. 

-Control the Paint 

Last week in the man-handling of the Magic, the Knicks were able to control the paint and contain Dwight Howard. They will have to do so again tonight if they want to come out victorious. With Davis potentially starting for Anderson, the Knicks will have their hands full in the paint. Thus far this season the Knicks have been able to contain Howard because Tyson Chandler is able to guard him for stretches of the game 1-on-1, enabling the Knicks to stay home on the 3 point shooters of the Magic. 

-Contest the 3 point Shots 

The Magic lead the NBA in 3 pointers made and attempted. The Knicks will have to up on their rotations and keep their heads on a swivel to keep up with the Magic’s ball movement. The Knicks must race out and contest on the perimeter tonight if they want to hang with the Magic. Forcing the Magic into deep contested shots should enable the Knicks to get out in the open court and run on a Magic team that lacks explosiveness and athleticism for the most part. 

-Keep up the Pressure 

When the Knicks are able to get out to an early lead they are enable to force their will upon opponents. They play a much more ferocious defense, flying around causing turnovers and steals, getting teams out of their rhythm. Much like last week, the Knicks must capture the lead and maintain the pressure. They seemed to let up off the gas Tuesday against the Pacers and before they knew it they had lost their lead and the game. 

-Take Advantage of the Mismatch 

The Knicks have been employing a small lineup since Amar’e Stoudemire got hurt, moving Carmelo Anthony to the 4 and Landry Fields to the 3 with Iman Shumpert being inserted into the starting lineup. 

This is both a blessing and a curse for the Knicks at times. It works in their favor because no Power Forward in the NBA can keep up with Anthony on the offensive end. The Knicks need to go to Anthony early and often and let him go to work on Glen Davis or Ryan Anderson whoever is starting. He has been playing outstanding the last few games on offense, which only makes it easier for the rest of his teammates. 

The only negative is that the Knicks then have problem on defense, but Anthony has been more than willing to show up on that end of the court also. He has been battling against bigger stronger opponents, sometimes being outmatched, but more than making up for it on the offensive end. 

Another positive is that the small lineup of the Knicks actually gets teams out of their game plan. Tuesday the Pacers were force feeding the post, going down low on 8 of their first 10 possessions, slowing down the game and not playing how they are used to. This caused the Pacers to get out of sync, and the Knicks took advantage for the first 3 quarters. 

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