After knocking off the Atlanta Hawks this past Wednesday in their building, the New York Knicks now have the opportunity to take two from Mike Woodson’s former team in a single week. Atlanta travels to MSG tonight for a little Saturday night basketball. The Knicks (3-5) are coming off a tough loss to the Houston Rockets, which dropped their home record to 1-4. Meanwhile, Atlanta is currently 5-4 and is coming off a 113-103 win last night over the Philadelphia 76ers.
It is unclear if JR Smith will start his third straight game. He was just fined by the NBA for threatening Pistons’ guard Brandon Jennings on Twitter because Jennings criticized his younger brother, Chris Smith (yes, this really happened). The Knicks have played well the past two games with Smith not coming off the bench so it may behoove Mike Woodson to just stick with it.
Jeff Teague is coming off a 33 point game last night and is likely to give the Knicks fits. Ray Felton has had a dismal defensive season while struggling with a hamstring injury. The Knicks should probably consider resting him for a week or two, as he isn’t equipped to cover Teague or chase Kyle Korver around.
For the Knicks, Andrea Bargnani will look to continue his hot shooting from the field and improved defensive effort. On Wednesday against Atlanta, Bargnani had 20 points on 8-15 shooting along with 11 rebounds. He also did an admirable job on Al Horford defensively. The Knicks will need more of the same tonight, if they want to get their 2nd home win of the season.
Rookie Tim Hardaway Jr. burned the Hawks for 14 points off the bench in their last meeting. Woodson has continued to show confidence in the rookie, so look for him to be a factor again tonight as well.
This is a good opportunity for the Knicks to beat a team who has struggled against them recently (five straight losses to the Knicks) and get a much needed home win.