Wednesday, March 7, 2012

New York Knicks vs. San Antonio Spurs Pre-Game News and Notes March 7th

New York Knicks vs. San Antonio Spurs 
Wednesday, March 7th 8:30 ET on MSG 

After dropping the last two against the Celtics and Mavericks, the road does not get any easier tonight in San Antonio against the Spurs. The Knicks are on the second night of a back-to-back while San Antonio should be well rested, last playing Sunday afternoon losing to the Denver Nuggets. Here are some things to watch for in tonight’s game. 

Changes to the Starting Lineup? 
-The starting lineup has been playing lackluster and uninspired basketball since the all-star break, putting the team in a whole right from the beginning sometimes too deep to recover from. Sluggish play from superstar Carmelo Anthony and a wearing down Jeremy Lin have contributed to the slow starts. Landry Fields also has not been playing well, seeing his minutes cut drastically with the addition of JR Smith and the emergence of Iman Shumpert and Steve Novak off the bench. So is tonight the night Mike D’Antoni finally makes a change to jumpstart the starting five? There are rumblings that a days after saying he will not shake up the lineup, that that is in fact what will be done. Iman Shumpert is expected to take over the starting Shooting Guard spot tonight for Landry Fields. This should help kick-start the Knicks earlier in games because of the intensity and energy that Shumpert brings to the game, especially on the defensive end of the court. 

Pick and Roll Defense 
-The Mavericks thrived against the Knicks in pick and roll situations. Jason Kidd was knockdown like normal from deep, going 3-6 and scoring a season high 15 points and dishing out 6 assists. Dirk Nowitzki also did his thing, scoring 28 points. The pick and roll defense will have to improve, and it starts with Jeremy Lin. For everything positive that Lin has brought the Knicks, he also comes with some negatives. One of those is his lateral quickness on defense. Lin at times seems he would have trouble guarding a garbage can. Opposing Point Guards have torched the Knicks in recent games, from Deron Williams scoring 38 to Rajon Rondo’s historic triple double, making Tony Parker who the Knicks should key in on tonight’s game. The Spurs are a lot like the Knicks in the offense they run, mostly pick-and-rolls-and-space-out offense, currently sitting 2nd in the NBA in 3point shooting percentage (39.6) and 3rd in makes (299). One thing the Knicks should stop doing to improve their defense is stop switching on the pick-and-rolls. The Knicks have a habit of switching at almost every opportunity, no matter which players are that are switching, which causes terrible match-ups for them. You will notice multiple times throughout the game Iman Shumpert or Jeremy Lin getting stuck guarding big-men on switches leading to easy baskets for the opposing team. Switching on defense is a good tactic when used sparingly and in certain situations, not as the game-plan. 

When Will We See The Old Carmelo Anthony? 
-The Knicks have to make it a point to get their struggling and seemingly disgruntled superstar more involved in not only the offense, but the game as a whole. Carmelo usually has big games after poor ones throughout the season. When he scored 13 points on Dec. 28 against the Warriors, he had 27 one night later against the Lakers. When he scored 13 points on Jan. 7 against the Pistons, he had 22 two nights later against the Bobcats. And then when he scored 12 points on Jan. 18 against the Suns, he had 35 two nights later against the Bucks. Can only hope for more of the same this time around, and hopefully another win as the Knicks are also only 1-2 in those Melo bounce back games. To get the offense moving, they need to get Melo moving. He is capable of getting easy baskets; he just has to be willing to get them. Melo thus-far has been settling for too many deep 2point shots, resulting in his worst season statistically in his career. If the Knicks want to get back to having sweet harmony on the offensive end during the beginning of Linsanity, they have to make it more of a point to get Melo involved in the offense, not have to make the offense himself. 

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