Opening Tip: Guarding Rondo

January, 24, 2013
1/24/13
9:00
AM ET
Every weekday throughout the season, ESPNNewYork.com will tackle a burning question about the New York Knicks in our "Opening Tip" segment.

Today's Burning Question: Can the Knicks slow Rajon Rondo down? If you're Mike Woodson, how do you approach defending the Celtics point guard tonight?

In one sense, the Knicks have been pretty fortunate since Raymond Felton went down on Christmas Day.

Outside of games against Tony Parker, Deron Williams and Damian Lillard, they've largely avoided playing the league's stronger point guards.

With Felton (broken pinky) out, you'd think that some of the opposing point guards would give the Knicks fits because the 39-year-old Jason Kidd lacks lateral quickness at this stage in his career.

But New York has managed just fine without Felton, holding opposing point guards to 3.5 fewer points per game with Felton out, compared to the 28 games prior to his injury. Point guards have also shot 6.5 percentage points less during Felton's absence.

Clearly, Pablo Prigioni and Kidd have more than held their own.

But those numbers also have a lot to do with the quality of point guard the Knicks have faced. Outside of Parker, Williams and Lillard, they were facing some of the league's most underwhelming lead guards.

That all changes Thursday when they take on Boston's Rondo, who is one of the top PGs on the planet.

Mike Woodson would be wise to stick Iman Shumpert on Rondo. But Shumpert is on a 20-minute limit so what happens when Shumpert's on the bench?

Do you put Kidd on Rondo? J.R. Smith? James White? Ronnie Brewer?

Woodson needs to find the right combination to slow Rondo, who, along with Paul Pierce, has turned into a Knicks killer.

Rondo is averaging 19.3 points and 13.1 assists in his last seven games versus New York, including the playoffs.

QUESTION: Can the Knicks slow Rondo down? If you're Woodson, how do you approach defending the Celtics point guard tonight?

Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Statistical assistance courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information's Jeremy Mills.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Ian Begley

ESPN New York Writer

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Carmelo Anthony
PTS AST STL MIN
23.4 3.3 0.8 36.3
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsA. Stoude... 7.4
AssistsJ. Calderon 4.1
StealsP. Prigioni 1.3
BlocksS. Dalembert 1.3