The Knicks (8-17) are set to take on the Memphis Grizzlies (10-15) in a rare Saturday afternoon affair at The Garden.
If there were ever such thing as an embarrassing win, the Knicks pulled it off on Wednesday night, but nonetheless, it something to build on. Tyson Chandler retuned (everyone exhale) and contributed nine rebounds and three blocks, but more importantly totally changed the complexion of the defense. He played 37 minutes, which was probably too many, but the Knicks dug themselves into quite a hole without him, so get used to the Knicks throwing guys right in to the fire.
The Grizzlies went to the Western Conference Finals last season, but you wouldn’t know it by their record. Reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Marc Gasol, went down with an injury a couple of weeks ago, and the team has collapsed since. Zach Randolph, everybody’s favorite ex-Knick, hasn’t been the same without a legitimate center to compliment him, so New York will have a huge advantage in the front court. It should be entertaining to watch Z-Bo try and keep himself in front of Melo.
As for the backcourt, Memphis is led by Mike Conley, who is averaging 18.2 points and 6.3 assists. He’s a smart, heads-up player, but isn’t going to catch fire and put the Grizzlies on his back offensively. However, the Knicks will need to be aware of his presence on the defensive side of the ball. The combination of Conley and Tony Allen average a combined 3.5 steals per game, so the Knicks will have to be smart with the ball and win the turnover battle.
Matinee games have been a horror for the Knicks of late, so they’ll have to avoid a slow start. Woodson had the team stay at a hotel the night before and bed time was supposed to be at 10, so if you saw J.R. Smith sneaking down a fire escape, you now know why. Win or lose, lets hope the Knicks show some composure down the stretch and avoid the headlines for just one game.