Tuesday, November 13, 2012
W2W4: Knicks at Magic
By Ian Begley
The Knicks will attempt to go 5-0 for the third time in franchise history. The last time they won their first five games, to start the 1993-94 season, they reached the NBA Finals. The first time they started 5-0, to begin the 1969-70 season, they won the championship.
Here are a few things to keep an eye on for Tuesday's game in Orlando. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.:
MAGIC ARE DOWNRIGHT OFFENSIVE: Orlando's offense has been atrocious in its first six games. Coach Jacque Vaughn's squad is scoring just 87.8 points per game, the lowest total in the league. In the Magic's past four games (all losses), they have averaged an abysmal 77.5 points.
Combine this with the fact that the Knicks lead the league in defensive efficiency (a measure of points allowed per 100 possessions) and are allowing opponents to shoot a league-low 40.7 percent from the floor, and this one could get ugly, quickly.
MATCHING UP VS. MELO: It looks like Orlando will stick forward Arron Afflalo on Carmelo Anthony, who is leading the NBA at 27.3 points per game.
I'm curious to see if Vaughn asks Glen Davis to switch to Anthony if he starts to score on Afflalo in the post. Davis is much too slow to guard Anthony on face-ups but could bother him in back-to-the-basket situations. Knicks center Tyson Chandler will probably match up against Davis, with Anthony guarding Magic big man Nikola Vucevic.
But if Anthony is forced to match up against the 289-pound Davis (with Chandler off the floor), it could sap his energy on the defensive end, thereby limiting him on offense.
Just a theory, though. We'll see how it plays out.
With Magic forward Al Harrington (knee) out and guard Jameer Nelson a game-time decision due to hamstring and groin issues, Orlando will need to get creative to keep pace with the Knicks.
TEST FOR VETS: On paper, of course, the Magic don't appear to pose much of a threat here. But there's always the "trap game" factor to worry about. After the Magic game, the Knicks face a tough back-to-back on the road against San Antonio and Memphis.
You'd think, though, that the Knicks' veteran-laden roster wouldn't look past any team. We'll see.
It would also benefit the Knicks to get an early lead and let their regular rotation players rest.
The Memphis game on Thursday begins a stretch of seven games in 11 days for New York. The Knicks are the oldest team in the league (average age: 31.6) and have five players at age 35 or older, so there's always a concern that one of their rotation players will suffer fatigue or a minor injury during a condensed stretch of the schedule.