Team Records: New York (38-24) at Portland (29-34)
Game Info: 7:30 p.m., TV on TNT, Radio on 1190 and 102. 3 FM
Vegas Line: Portland -6
Refs: Ron Garretson, Nick Buchert, David Jones
The Skinny: The Blazers welcome back one of the most hated Blazers of all time in Raymond Felton tonight as they play their second in a three game homestand. Portland is seeking its first sweep of the Knicks since the 2008-09 season. The Knicks have been up and down as of late and are playing the third in a five game road swing in Portland.
Last Time They Met: The Blazers took a big lead in New York and then held on for dear life as the Knicks made a late rally. Portland survived a monster night from Carmelo Anthony, who scored 45 points in New York’s loss.
Projected Knicks Lineup:
PF: Kurt Thomas (TCU-18th season) – 2.3 PPG, 2 RPG, .4 APG
SF: James White (Cincinnati-3rd season) – 1.7 PPG, .7 RPG, .4 APG
C: Tyson Chandler (Dominguez (HS)-12th season) – 10.8 PPG, 11.1 RPG, .9 APG
SG: Iman Shumpert (Georgia Tech-2nd season) – 5.1 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 1.3 APG
PG: Raymond Felton (North Carolina-8th season) – 14.7 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 5.8 APG
Player to Watch: Raymond “Cupcakes” Felton (pictured at right) – I wanted to like Raymond Felton when he came to Portland, I really truly did. He was a solid player, was coming off a great year in New York before he was traded to Denver as part of the Melo trade and seemed like at worst a lateral move to replace Andre Miller. Boy was I wrong. Felton showed up to camp out of shape and overweight and played like it all season. Still, I wanted to believe he would work his way into shape, but he didn’t, neither mentally nor physically. I finally turned on him when, after a blowout loss to the Wizards at home, he said the team hadn’t played poorly. Good riddance Felton and you fully deserve whatever scorn the RG crowd heaps on you Thursday.
Did You Know?: Earlier this season Knicks coach Mike Woodson became the fastest in team history to 50 wins, accomplishing this feat in only 73 games.
Song of the Day: “Cupcake Song” from My Little Pony. The only song that is appropriate to commemorate Felton’s favorite treat. Enjoy:
Portland: Out –SG Elliot Williams (Achilles), SF Sasha Pavlovic (Quad), SF Victor Claver (Ankle).
New York: Out –-PF Amar’e Stoudemire (Knee), PF Rasheed Wallace (Foot), PF Carmelo Anthony (Knee), Probable-C Tyson Chandler (Knee).
Re-Evaluating the Knicks: Booing Your Own Players
It takes a lot to get me to boo a player on my own team. I tend to give players, even those I don’t like much (looking your way Darius Miles) the benefit of the doubt and believe that, as long as they are trying hard, they shouldn’t be booed by their own fans. I made an exception for Felton last year, as it wasn’t that he was just playing badly, although he certainly was, but that, in addition, he wasn’t appearing to try that hard. As Dean Wormer said famously in Animal House “Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son” and while Felton may no longer be fat and he’s certainly no alcoholic, he certainly played fat and stupid last season.
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 Thursday, they should prevail.