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Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Woodson has Knicks starting small

By Matt Ehalt

NEW YORK -- The New York Knicks are starting the 2013-14 season small.

The Knicks will use a starting lineup of Pablo Prigioni, Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler against the Milwaukee Bucks in the season opener Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.

It's the same lineup the Knicks used in the playoffs last season, and they were 13-0 with that unit. Anthony serves as the power forward in this setting, and he averaged a league-leading 28.7 points while playing the position extensively last season.

Nike Woodson said his lineups are based on matchups. With the Bucks emphasizing a perimeter-oriented unit, the Knicks are choosing to use three guards to start. They will go big Thursday in Chicago.

"If it would have been a big lineup tonight I would've started big, without a doubt," Woodson said. "They are starting [Khris] Middleton and [Caron] Butler along with [Brandon] Knight and [O.J.] Mayo. I just don't think that's a fair matchup for -- yes, I can make them match up to us but we were pretty good with that lineup."

Forward Amar'e Stoudemire is on "standby," according to Knicks head coach Woodson, while Metta World Peace, Andrea Bargnani and Kenyon Martin are all available. Bargnani, one of the team's big offseason acquisitions, struggled in the preseason, shooting just 38 percent from the floor.

Rookie guard Tim Hardaway Jr. and Beno Udrih will round out the bench players Woodson will turn to against Milwaukee. Woodson isn't sure who will be the first off the bench.

Woodson indicated the plan at the moment for back-to-back games is to play Stoudemire one night and Martin the other. Woodson said if he doesn't use Stoudemire Wednesday night, he'll be ready to play against the Bulls. Stoudemire is coming off knee surgery, while Martin has been hampered by an ankle injury.

"I'm on minutes restriction and it's based on back-to-back games," Woodson said. "It's going to be based on two days off in between where guys can get their rest -- both of them. If we had a couple days off I could play them both tonight and max out their minutes. We'll have to play it by ear. This is something new I'm trying based on their availability. We'll have to see what happens."

Wednesday's contest will mark the first of the five-game suspension guard J.R. Smith will serve for violating the league's anti-drug policy. Woodson expects to have him back Nov. 10 against San Antonio.