Saturday, March 23, 2013
W2W4: Knicks vs. Raptors
By Jared Zwerling
The Raptors complete a home-and-home with the Knicks -- this time without star forward Rudy Gay, who suffered a jammed back on Friday night and didn't travel with the team to New York. But the Knicks still have to worry about Raptors sixth man Alan Anderson, who scored a career-high 35 points last night. Actually, out of his four highest scoring games in his career, two have been against the Knicks. The other time was his 26-point outing on Feb. 13 at the Garden, which the Knicks lost, 92-88.
Here are three main things to watch for in Saturday night's game, which will start at 7:30 p.m.:
1. Minutes count. After Friday night's win, Mike Woodson said that he felt "bad" for playing Carmelo Anthony 43 minutes. While Melo scored a game-high 37 points, Woodson has to be careful not to overwork his star player. He did just come off an injury. The coach said recently that he will look to solidify a starting five and rotation -- perhaps nine deep -- and that needs to start happening now with less than a month remaining in the regular season. He's been eager to win games lately by increasing playing time on his go-to guys, but managing an older roster means more of a balance.
2. Kenyon Martin's impact. In five straight starts, he's been a huge catalyst for the team on both ends of the floor. Against the Raptors last night, he had two steals and a blocked shot. And offensively, he was 9-for-10 from the field, connecting on several putback dunks and a couple of pick and rolls with Raymond Felton. His efficient night was one for the books. In only one of his 705 previous regular-season games had he produced such a high shooting percentage while making at least nine field goals. He went 10-for-10 for the Nuggets in a win over the Bulls on Nov. 23, 2008.
3. How will Steve Novak and Chris Copeland fit in? Obviously they add a good amount offensively -- Novak with his 3-point shooting; Copeland with his all-around game -- but they are weak links defensively. That's why Woodson only played them a combined 11 minutes last night, as he wanted to secure the victory. Once Chandler returns to play alongside Martin at times, Novak and Copeland could see the court a bit more, as Woodson might feel more confident in knowing there's more paint protection. Overall, Woodson needs to build consistency with who plays how many minutes, so the guys can feel more comfortable once they step on the court. Mental preparation is always a big part of the game.