Team Records: Portland (34-14) at New York (19-29)
Game Info: 5 p.m., TV on CSNNW/ESPN, Radio on 620 AM
ESPN Announcers: Mark Jones and Doug Collins
Vegas Line: Portland -2.5
Refs: Danny Crawford, Josh Tiven, James Williams
The Skinny: Portland looks to rebound against the seemingly endlessly struggling New York Knicks as they play the first of two straight games on ESPN. Portland, of course, is coming off a road loss to Washington and has lost four straight road games. New York is coming of a very bad loss to the Bucks Monday night and is a woeful 11-16 at home this season.
Last Time They Met: The Blazers took a big early lead and strolled home, never leading the Knicks by less than seven after the opening quarter . Lillard and Batum each had 23 points while Carmelo Anthony posted 35 points and 14 rebounds for New York.
Projected Knicks Lineup:
PF: Carmelo Anthony (Syracuse-11th season) – 27.3 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 3.1 APG
SF: Iman Shumpert (Georgia Tech-3rd season) – 7.1 PPG, .4.7 RPG, 1.9 APG
C: Tyson Chandler (Manuel Dominguez (HS)-13th season) – 8.3 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 1.1 APG
SG: Pablo Prigioni (Argentina-2nd season) – 3.6 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 3.1 APG
PG: Raymond Felton (North Carolina-9th season) – 10.5 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 5.7 APG
Player to Watch: Raymond Felton (pictured at right) – Remember the old Tootsie Roll Pop ads, the ones that asked how many licks it takes to the get to the tootsie roll center of a Tootsie Roll Pop? Remember how no one ever found out because you couldn’t help but bite down and get to the center, which is the best part? That’s Raymond Felton, except that when fans bite down on the tootsie roll pop that is his play they get not sweet goodness but shit. Felton had a bit of a honeymoon last year, playing reasonably well and making Knicks fans reasonably happy. This year Felton has flat sucked. When he hasn’t been injured he’s simply been awful, on defense, on offense and everywhere in between. Now the Knicks will look to unload him but its hard to find a team that doesn’t already know that when you bite down at all deeply into Felton’s play, it tastes like shit.
Did You Know?: Carmelo Anthony recently posted a Knicks-record 62 points in a win over the Bobcats on January 24.
Song of the Day: “Cupcake Song” from My Little Pony. The only song that is appropriate to commemorate Felton’s favorite treat. Enjoy:
New York: Out – C Andrea Bargnani (Elbow)
Re-Evaluating the Knicks: Lack of Defensive Effort
Even if the Knicks were playing as well as they possibly could, this squad is not a very good defensive team, except for Tyson Chandler. However, for many games this year the Knicks have not been playing anywhere close to maximum effort. Case in point, in their visit to Portland early this season I can honestly say I have never seen a NBA team try less on defense, resulting in multiple open dunks and 3s and a run-away Portland win. Even during their recent 10-8 stretch the Knicks lowered opponent scoring by all of six tenths of a point, from 99.2 a game to 98.6 a game. If the Knicks are to make the playoffs, which is possible only because they are in the east, they need to greatly improve their effort on defense.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: Don’t let Melo go crazy. If Melo doesn’t have one of his crazy efficient nights the Knicks have little chance of winning.
New York wins if: They make at least 10 3 pointers. When New York is going well, they take and make a lot of 3 pointers. If they can do so Wednesday, they should prevail.