In just a few hours, the New York Knicks will open their season at home against the Miami Heat. This game was origanlly scheduled to be the Knicks’ second game of the season, but after Hurricane Sandy swept through New York City, Mayor Bloomberg was inclined to canceled the Knicks vs. Nets opening night game at the Barclay’s Center.
The Heat opened up the NBA season against the Boston Celtics down in South Beach and ended with a strong 120-107 victory. New additions Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis both chipped in with double-digit scoring efforts, and knocked down a handful of threes. With the Heat’s ability to get into the lane, Allen and Lewis benefit greatly, since they can camp out along the three-point line waiting for the ball to end up in their hands. In practice this week, the Knicks were working on defensive rotations to deal with situations like that, so it will be interesting to see if the Knicks will be able to put any sort of damper on the Heat’s offense (which isn’t likely, unfortunately).
Marcus Camby will dress for tonight’s game, but the decision regarding whether or not he will play will be made by Mike Woodson. Rasheed Wallace, who didn’t participate in any pre-season game and was limited in practice, is expected to play, especially since the Knicks lack big bodies. Now, a few things to look for in tonight’s game:
Carmelo Anthony, Power Forward
Amare Stoudemire will be out for about two months, and during that time, it’s likely that Carmelo Anthony will spend a majority of his time at the power forward position, at least when the Knicks are playing small-ball teams, such as the Miami Heat. Last year, Carmelo Anthony excelled at the power forward spot. Don’t trust me? Just look at the numbers: 29.5 PER at power forward, compared to a 17.4 PER at small forward. 39 points per 48 minutes at the four compared to 29 at the three. Yeah, he was pretty good.
Now, since Melo didn’t play the majority of his season last year at power forward, he was able to catch his opponent by surprise. Tonight, he’ll be going against Lebron James, who will be masquerading as a power forward, as well, and Melo will not be able to catch him by surprise. The biggest positive about Melo at the four is the lineups that surround him. Tonight, I look forward to seeing a lineup of Felton, Smith, Brewer, Melo and Chandler, as I think it would be able to generate points on offense, and give the Heat some difficulties on defense.
In the Knicks vs. Heat playoff series last year, Steve Novak was invisible to the audience. This was because the Heat focused their attention on him, leaving him no room to get off his shot. With Stoudemire out of the lineup, the Knicks will need players other than Carmelo Anthony to generate some scoring, and Steve Novak is the perfect player to do this — if he can adjust to the Heat’s defensive schemes and get some shots off. After all, if Novak’s not contributing on offense, since he has very limited defensive skills, he’s essentially useless.
Point Guard Play
Raymond Felton, Pablo Prigioni and Jason Kidd will all play crucial roles for the Knicks this season, as well as tonight. The Heat are a very fast team and will kill you on turnovers. It will be up to the point guards to control the pace, limit turnovers and give their teammates the ball in high percentage places.
Tonight should be a fun game, well… maybe not, but it’s good to have Knicks basketball back!