Team Records: Portland (20-22) at New York (18-24)
Game Info: 4:30 p.m., TV on CSNNW, Radio on 750 the Game
Vegas Line: New York -4.5
Refs: Michael Smith, Eric Dalen, Violet Palmer.
The Skinny: After another emotionless loss in Indiana Wednesday, the Blazers travel to New York in a battle of teams that seem to have completely tuned out their coaches. Both the Blazers and Knicks are falling apart rather quickly and not even PG sensation Jeremy Lin has been able to stop New York’s fall. All this of course is being played in the specter of the trade deadline with some players perhaps playing their last game with their respective teams Wednesday.
Last Season: The Blazers and Knicks split the season series, each winning on the other’s home court.
Projected Knicks Lineup:
PF: Amar’e Stoudemire (Cypress Creek (HS), 10th season) – 17.7 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 1.2 APG
SF: Carmelo Anthony (Syracuse-9th season) – 21.3 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 3.8 APG
C: Tyson Chandler (Dominguez (HS), 11th season) – 11.4 PPG, 9.8 RPG, .9 APG
SG: Landry Fields (Stanford, 2nd season) – 9.9 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 2.9 APG
PG: Jeremy Lin (Harvard, 2nd season) – 15 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 6.4 APG
Player to Watch: Jeremy Lin (pictured at right) – This Linique point guard from Harvard spawned the Linsantiy that took the NBA by storm about a month ago but sadly has experienced a little bit of Lingression to the mean as he has come down from the Linmazing start he had made to his time in New York. Okay, so maybe that’s one too many Jeremy Lin puns but the fact remains that Lin was one of the more surprising breakout stories in many seasons. After an undistinguished rookie year in Golden State, he was thrust into the lineup due to a rash of injuries and took the NBA by storm. He led the Knicks on a winning run including several games he seemingly won by himself late. He is a very good slasher with good passing instincts for the most part and decent defense. He has an okay if inconsistent outside shot. Where Lin really falls apart is his ball handling. Like many young point guards, he has a tendency to dribble himself into a situation where he either gets the ball stripped or throws a silly pass, leading to an easy bucket for the opposition. Still, he’s not the first to have this problem (cough, Russell Westbrook and John Wall, cough) and so it is not unreasonable to expect this will improve over time. Whether Lin is truly a star is still up to debate but there is no question that this time, he has found a place in the NBA.
Did You Know?: Steve Novak is second in the NBA in 3 pointers made since February 1st as well as overall 3 point %. He is currently tied with Hubert Davis for the highest 3 point percentage in any single season in Knicks history at 47.6%.
Song of the Day: “Empire State of Mind” by Jay Z featuring Alicia Keys-The new unofficial song of New York, this song is appropriate for tonight’s matchup in the Big Apple. Enjoy:
Portland: Out – C Greg Oden (knee), SG Elliot Williams (Shoulder).
New York: Out – PF Jared Jeffries (knee), SG Bill Walker (Elbow).
New York’s Game:
New York is still the fast paced offensive team we have known for the past several years, ranking second in the league in pace. However, beyond that, much has changed. The defense is greatly improved, ranking about average, a dramatic improvement from the near league worst defense of a year ago. Sadly, the offensive efficiency has plummeted as well, especially since Carmelo Anthony’s return from injury. Too often the Knicks go one on one on offense and take forced shots, rather than looking for the best shot. They have good enough players they can sometimes get away with this but not often and not consistently. They also turn the ball over a lot, and its not just Jeremy Lin, Baron Davis isn’t a whole heck of a lot better. If they are focused, they are tough to beat but if their heads aren’t in the game, they can lose to literally anyone, including Charlotte.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: Hold New York under 100 points. New York may be better on defense but they are still fundamentally an offense-first team. If they don’t score 100, they almost never win.
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.