Harris DeckerOn The Knicks Blog Podcast, Moke Hamilton and I discussed what the next few games mean to the Knicks. The truth is, the winning streak has been great, and even though it came to an end against the Bobcats, the real test is how the team bounces back. Teams lose games. It happens. Now it’s time to step up to the plate and find a way to take at least two of the next three games against tough, tough competition.
The Knicks take on the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis. Of the three games, this is the largest challenge. Winners of five of six, the Pacers are a formidable challenge for any team, scoring and playing defense as well as any team in the NBA. There are two matchups in this game that will set the tone and likely decide the outcomes. First, is the play by the two centers. Roy Hibbert is the type of center that has the ability to pull down a seemingly uncountable number of rebounds. What the Knicks need is a great game from Tyson Chandler to counteract some of this play.
The second key will be the matchup between Paul George and whoever guards him on the Knicks. Likely a combination of Carmelo Anthony and Iman Shumpert, George has become an elite player and has a knack for knocking great scorers off their game. If he’s covering Anthony, which is likely, it will be important for him to dish when necessary and keep his shots smart.
Clippers @ Knicks, Friday, January 17th at 7:00 p.m.
For weeks we’ve heard about various league sources stating that a Blake Griffin-for-Carmelo trade may or may not be on the table. Now the two get to go head-to-head in the Garden. The last time these two teams hooked up, the Knicks were in a bad place. They lost their 7th game in a row to the Clippers as a part of a miserable West coast trip.
Now, both teams come in playing some great basketball. What you have to like about this matchup is that Chris Paul will not be a part of it. Guards kill the Knicks and Paul is one of the best. His absence means that the focus of the Knicks defense will have to be on Blake Griffin and J.J. Redick, both of whom have been playing very well. It will be interesting to see who defends Blake and if Amar’e Stoudemire’s post game is effected by Griffin and DeAndre Jordan’s rough style of defense.
Nets @ Knicks, Monday, January 20th at 2:30 pm
The final game in this test is against the crosstown rival Brooklyn Nets. The first time these two teams hooked up the Knicks came away with the win. At the time, both teams were flailing, not winning many games. Now, both teams are hot, playing much better and gaining ground in the East. Brook Lopez will miss the game and it’s likely that Deron Williams could as well. It will be awesome to see Carmelo and Stoudemire against Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
Shaun Livingston could be the toughest guy on the court for the Knicks to match up with. He’s a lengthy veteran guard who’s been lighting up the box score. He’s averaging 12 points a game over the past few weeks and is truly dynamic, rebounding the ball as well as he scores it. Joe Johnson vs. Iman Shumpert is the other key to this matchup to watch. Overall, this game will come down to a number of one-on-one matchups.