Friday, January 11, 2013
W2W4: Knicks vs. Bulls
By Jared Zwerling
The Knicks enter Friday night's game with a 5-7 record in their past 12 games and another injured big man (Marcus Camby). But hey, at least Carmelo Anthony is returning from a one-game suspension.
Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. on ESPN. For the Knicks to win -- and finally beat the Bulls, who have had their number twice this season -- here are three things they need to do:
1. Take care of the basketball. The Knicks had 14 assists and 12 turnovers in a loss to the Pacers on Thursday. Some of that was due to an abundance of isolation and players trying to make difficult passes in traffic.
Where was the ball movement? Jason Kidd's uncharacteristic five turnovers hurt and Pablo Prigioni was basically nonexistent until late in the second half. J.R. Smith was on his own with the rock, and that allowed the Pacers' defense to zone in on him. The addition of Anthony, in the post and in the pick-and-roll, should boost the Knicks' offense.
One issue that's been plaguing the Knicks lately is their occasional inability to drive and kick. While Kidd and Smith have been playing well together, Kidd is sometimes getting stuck in half-court sets. That goes for Prigioni as well. Kidd is 39 and Prigioni 35 -- they're not as quick off pick-and-rolls as they used to be, and the speed of younger NBA defenders has caught up with them at times.
The younger, athletic Smith hasn't had a problem in that regard, and he has been stepping up his playmaking in Raymond Felton's absence.
2. Provide defensive support behind Tyson Chandler. Without Rasheed Wallace and likely Camby tonight, Chandler will be called upon to do more defensively. Bulls center Joakim Noah, especially, demands a lot of attention. One of Noah's underrated talents is his passing, and the Bulls have other great finishers, notably Taj Gibson and Carlos Boozer, who has six straight double-doubles.
3. Get more from Ronnie Brewer. There have been a lot of zeroes in the small forward's stat lines these days. He has to bring something to the team. He did it earlier in the season. With the Knicks banged up right now, they're going to need him to make plays on both ends of the floor. Brewer, a former Bull, knows tonight's opponent.