Providence, Manchester, Baltimore, Green Bay. No, It’s not your Nickelback U.S. Tour locations, but rather where the New York Knicks have traveled during the 2013-14 preseason. On Wednesday they check off the final road tilt of the bunch in the land of cheese and Brett Favre when they take on the Milwaukee Bucks, the team they open the regular season with in a week. Here’s what we’re watching for in Wisconsin:
- Will Amar’e Stoudemire and/or J.R. Smith play? Both practiced on Tuesday for the first time, and it’s possible we’ll see two of the Knicks’ most-recognized faces back on the court. For Smith, it makes sense to get him out there as quickly as possible (as long as it’s prudent health-wise, of course); he’s going to miss five games due to the marijuana suspension in the offseason, and the quicker he serves them, the better. For Stoudemire, who even knows at this point? It’s unfortunate, but you almost expect to wake up tomorrow to the news that he re-aggravated his knee and is “day-to-day”. If he does give it a go, all eyes will be looking to see how he physically looks – if he has any spring left, how agile he looks, if he’s slowed down considerably.
- Elbow Brothers Pablo Prgioni and Iman Shumpert, who sat out Monday’s game in Toronto, are both expected to be back.
- Mike Woodson has said that Cole Aldrich will get extra minutes tonight to see how he handles Milwaukee’s bigs. It’s hard to know whether this is basically a last chance for him, or if the Knicks really think he can help down the road against teams with legitimate size, and so they’re getting him some work against some (as opposed to the Raptors, who don’t have much rugged size to begin with). This may mean Tyson Chandler won’t play very much, because I’m sure Woodson will still give lots of time to Ike Diogu and Josh Powell.
- These aren’t your mother’s Milwaukee Bucks. They’ll probably be in the bottom tier of the playoff-bound Eastern Conference again, but they’ll look quite differently from previous years. Gone are Knick-killer Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, in are the likes of Gary Neal, Brandon Knight and rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo. And of course, Larry Sanders (Hey Now!).
- Toure Murry seems to be everyone’s favorite underdog Knick right now, and I’m sure he’s feeling like he’s close to making the final roster. It’s an almost pressure-packed situation for him, with another good performance maybe cementing his place, while a bad one can put him on the wrong side of the bubble. Interesting to see how much of a look he gets (I think it will be a long one, again), and how he responds.
- As usual, everyone stay healthy, please.