A lot has developed on the Knicks' final day of the regular season: Rasheed Wallace retired (for a second time), Earl Barron was signed to replace him, Quentin Richardson addressed reporters for the first time and Mike Woodson announced that six Knicks players won't play Wednesday night against the Hawks: Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, Jason Kidd, Tyson Chandler, Kenyon Martin and Marcus Camby.
But what hasn't changed is the Knicks remain the second seed in the Eastern Conference, and they'll stay that way no matter what happens tonight.
While the Knicks' focus is the Celtics this weekend for the first round of playoffs, they still have one more game to go, in front of their home crowd. Here are three main things to watch for tonight, starting at 8 p.m.:
1. Cope-acabana. Whenever Chris Copeland has been called upon to play big minutes in a game this season -- like 46 on Monday night against the Bobcats -- he has delivered. That night, he scored a season-high 32 points. Tonight, his playing time could be just as high with many of the core Knicks sitting out. He could have an even better encore performance tonight because the Hawks, who are still playing for the fifth or sixth seed to match up against Indiana or Brooklyn, have been resting guys as well.
2. Iman Shumpert's point-guard play. Since his return, he has been mostly effective as a 3-point shooter, but in the past few games, he has been taking charge more with the ball, showing a quicker first step, confidence going to the basket and explosiveness at the rim. He also has flourished at times as a one-man fast break off his own defensive rebounds.
Overall, Shumpert's ability to handle the rock and get into the paint will only enhance the Knicks' looks from downtown, a staple in their offense. Perhaps tonight he will get some more touches at point guard in half-court sets. Facilitating pick-and-rolls will be a solid building block looking ahead to the postseason.
3. Richardson's season debut. The last time the former Knick played in an NBA game was in last year's first round of the playoffs, when his Magic fell to the Pacers 4-1. The theme of that series was the Pacers' defense, and that's what he hopes to bring to the Knicks.
"The one thing I know about this team is they got enough offense," he said. "First off, I don't know how much I'll play, but whatever happens, my first mindset is to be a defensive stopper. We have Carmelo who leads the league in scoring. My first mindset is to play defense."
While making stops is not one of his strong suits, 3-point shooting is. In 12 years in the league, Richardson, 33, has averaged 10.3 points and shot a respectable 35.5 percent from distance.
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