The New York Knicks (4-13) are fresh off of their first win in over two weeks after taking down Brooklyn last night. They’ll have to match last night’s enthusiasm if they want to make it two in a row at home tonight against the 6-12 Orlando Magic.
Last night’s victory was refreshing to see, to say the least. The ball movement was back, the team had some pep in their step, and everybody looked fully engaged. It felt weird to wake up and not have to read about how the sky was falling. It’s funny how winning cures all.
The Knicks were able to take care of a Nets team that was ravaged by injuries, and they’ll have the same luck tonight at The Garden. Both starting point guard Jameer Nelson and starting center Nikola Vucevic are game-time decisions for Orlando and while young stud Tobias Harris joined the team for their current road trip, he’s not likely to suit up at all. Vucevic is the type of rebounder that will give New York fits without Tyson Chandler, so keep an eye on his status as tip-off approaches.
The Magic are one of those young teams looking to make an impact on their future through the 2014 NBA Draft, but they shouldn’t be taken lightly at all. Last year’s second overall pick, Victor Oladipo, has been thrust into the starting lineup after Nelson’s injury and has been playing well, averaging 16.6 points 5.3 rebound and 4.4 assists. He’s heading in to tonight’s matchup fresh off his first career triple-double. Oladipo is much like a young Russell Westbrook – a shooting guard being labeled as a point guard whose game is mostly predicated on defense. Eventually his offense will come around.
The biggest key to victory will be shutting down Arron Afflalo, who leads the team in scoring at 22.6 points per game. He is the heart and soul of the team, so the Knicks have to always be aware of his presence on the court. New York City’s own Maurice Harkless plays for Orlando and may be looking to put on a show in front of some friends and family. The Magic are very exploitable on defense and are more-or-less just looking to outscore teams, so the Knicks will have to be sharp on defense tonight.
Melo should be able to get any shot he wants, but hopefully the ball movement carries over from yesterday. As long as everyone is in rhythm, there’s no reason why the Knicks shouldn’t win this one. As always, TOK will keep you covered.