Game Preview – New York Knicks vs. Atlanta Hawks

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Tonight’s matchup pits a team that Mike Woodson overuses isolation plays for against a team that Mike Woodson used to overuse isolation plays for…

No one knows who will wind up as the third seed in the despicable Eastern Conference, but for now, the Atlanta Hawks claim that spot. Sitting at 12-11, the Hawks are hardly a juggernaut, giving hope to all Knicks fans who think that their team is dead in the water at 6-16.

These two teams played each other twice in a four day span in November, splitting the home-and-home set. Despite barely scraping out a win, the Knicks played some of their best basketball in the first game, but the second matchup was another story. Everything was awful, from the way the Knicks played to the jerseys that the teams selected to wear. No matter what happens tonight, we’ll all be thankful that we aren’t watching orange on red.

New York was so close to having a fully healthy squad before Kenyon Martin left last night’s game with a strained abdominal muscle. Atlanta’s Jeff Teague had a field day in the paint against the Knicks in the prior meetings, and he should have an even easier time now that the Knicks are without their top-two rim protectors.

It will also be near impossible to keep Al Horford and and Paul Millsap off the glass. Although the Hawks are ranked 25th in the league in rebounding, the low number is attributed more to their slow pace than anything else. The best way for the Knicks to combat Atlanta’s size is too simply make their shots. The Hawks won’t be able to grab rebounds if the ball is going through the hoop, however, if the Knicks shoot like they did last night this one will be over quickly. My guess is that the trio of J.R. Smith, Tim Hardaway Jr, and Iman Shumpert shoot much better than nine percent from the field tonight and Smith takes more field goal attempts in his first two minutes than he did in 26 minutes against Boston last night.

 

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