Wednesday, November 13, 2013
W2W4: Knicks at Hawks
By Ian Begley
Here are a few things to keep an eye on Wednesday as the Knicks take on the Atlanta Hawks:
Can the Knicks deliver on Dolan's guarantee? Knicks owner James Dolan played a concert with his band, J.D. and the Straight Shot, shortly after the Knicks lost by 31 to the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday.
Between songs, Dolan, speaking to the audience, guaranteed the Knicks would win Wednesday's game against the Hawks.
So the Knicks may be the first team in NBA history facing a must-win in the seventh game of the season. And Wednesday's game is no gimme.
The Hawks' duo of Al Horford and Paul Millsap is off to strong start. Both are scoring more than 18 points per game and can rebound the ball well. With Tyson Chandler (fractured right fibula) out, the Knicks will have their hands full.
Can J.R. right the ship? Mike Woodson admitted on Tuesday he's been struggling to find the right lineups and rotations early in the season. That's one reason the Knicks are 2-4 heading into Wednesday's showdown with Atlanta.
Woodson will turn to J.R. Smith to help against the Hawks. The coach told reporters in Atlanta that Smith will start in place of Pablo Prigioni. Smith missed the first five games of the season while serving a suspension for violating the league's anti-drug policy. He had five points on 1-for-9 shooting and four turnovers in his season debut against the Spurs.
The Knicks will need more than that from Smith if they hope to topple the Hawks.
It will also be interesting to see how Iman Shumpert responds to sourced reports that the Knicks have discussed a Shumpert-for-Kenneth Faried deal with Denver. Will this impact his play?
Will Melo get it going? If recent history is any indication, the Knicks can expect a big night from Carmelo Anthony against the Hawks.
STATS LLC points out that Anthony has scored 36, 39, 42 and 40 points against in his past four matchups with Atlanta while shooting 51.4 percent -- including 14-of-23 from 3-point range.
He is coming off a 16-point game against San Antonio and is averaging 23.2 points per game, well below the 28.7 points he averaged last season.
New York could use a big night from Anthony to relieve the mounting pressure coming from inside and outside the organization.