Monday, February 3, 2014
W2W4: Knicks at Bucks
By Ian Begley
Here are a few things to keep an eye on during Monday night’s game against the Bucks:
Road trip: The Knicks will play 10 of their next 15 games on the road. They start that stretch with an easy one Monday night. New York will face a Milwaukee team that has lost 18 of 22 at the Bradley Center.
The Knicks are trying to shake off Saturday’s home loss to the defending champion Heat and build off a stretch in which they won four out of five games.
"We lost some games that we thought we should have won, but that's neither here nor there. I like the direction that we're going in as far as our mentality, our focus," Carmelo Anthony said. "We've got to bounce back on Monday."
The Knicks enter play Monday one game behind Charlotte for eighth place in the Eastern Conference.
Charlotte is idle on Monday, so a Knicks win would bring them a half-game closer to a playoff spot. A loss would give New York 29 for the season, which would be one more than the club lost all of last season.
Melo loves Milwaukee: Carmelo has had quite a run against the Bucks of late. In his past 13 games against Milwaukee, Anthony has averaged 29.7 points per game on 48.4 percent shooting.
He’s also thrived in the Knicks’ small-ball lineup in recent games. Since Andrea Bargnani went down with an elbow injury, the Knicks have featured Anthony at power forward instead of small forward. Anthony has averaged 35.2 points on 53 percent shooting since the Knicks went with that lineup.
Rookie Tim Hardaway Jr. has had a hot hand for the Knicks of late, too. In his past five games, the rookie is scoring 18 points and has hit 50 percent of his 3s (34 attempts). In his first 41 games, Hardaway averaged 8.2 points per game.
If Iman Shumpert returns Monday from a shoulder injury, it will be interesting to see how that affects playing time for Hardaway and/or J.R. Smith.
Bucks are bad: The Bucks have lost six in a row overall and have dropped their past seven meetings with the Knicks.
In the Knicks' season-opening win over Milwaukee, they shot 50 percent from the field and had 50 points in the paint. The Knicks needed two overtimes to beat the Bucks in Milwaukee on Dec. 18 but managed to knock down a season-high tying 17 3s in that much-needed win.
Mike Woodson & Co. would prefer an easier scenario Monday. One key is the Knicks’ shooting percentage. When the Knicks shoot above 50 percent, they are 9-0, per STATS LLC. When the Bucks allow an opponent to shoot better than 50 percent, they're 0-13.