Current Standings - New York: 38-25, 3rd in the Eastern Conference (11.5 games behind Miami, 1 game behind Indiana), 1st in the Atlantic Division (leading the Brooklyn Nets by 1 game) Los Angeles: 45-21, 3rd in the Western Conference (trailing the San Antonio Spurs by 5.5 games), 1st in the Pacific Division (leading the GoldenState Warriors by 8.5 games)
Previous Meetings - The Clippers defeated the Knicks 102-88 on February 10th. Carmelo Anthony’s 42 points weren’t enough to keep the Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford show from taking over the Garden.
What To Watch For - This is the second Sunday ABC game pitting these two teams against each other. The Knicks are looking for revenge after the Clippers came away with a victory in a highly entertaining game at Madison Square Garden last month. New York is also looking to end a three game losing streak. Their five-game West coast trip is still somewhat salvageable if they can get victories in their final two contests. With injuries mounting and poor play planting doubt in most Knicks fans minds, it’s ever so important that the Knicks just take things one game at a time, starting now.
Beating the Clippers is much easier said than done though. Early tip-offs usually lead to ice cold shooting to start the game, but the Clippers aren’t nearly as reliant on the jump shot as New York is. Los Angeles plays one of the NBA’s most exciting brands of basketball, so the game should be one long highlight reel.
Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler are both listed as questionable with knee injuries, but ESPN New York is reporting that they are both unlikely to play. This poses a huge problem for the Knicks, who will find it difficult to keep up with the Clippers offensive pace without their best scorer.
Injury Update – Los Angeles- Caron Butler (SF) is Probable (Elbow), Eric Bledsoe (PG) is Out (Calf) – New York - Carmelo Anthony (SF,PF) is Questionable (Knee), Tyson Chandler (C) is Questionable (Knee), Rasheed Wallace (PF) is Out (Foot) Amar’e Stoudemire (PF) is Out (Knee)
Key Matchup - Chris Paul vs. the Knicks interior defense - It’s looking like Tyson Chandler isn’t going to play, so the Knicks need somebody to be a presence inside of the paint. Chris Paul has some of the best handles in the league and can get anywhere he chooses on the floor, but someone has to deter him from getting too close to the hoop. Look for Kenyon Martin to rack up his fouls even quicker than usual, as New York will have to win the physical battle if they’re going to win without their two best players. Knicks fans have been waiting for Marcus Camby to get healthy and step up all year long and opportunity is knocking at his door.
Knicks Win If – As always, things would be a thousand times easier if Melo suited up, but it isn’t looking like he’ll play. Without him, somebody besides J.R. will need to aid the offensive attack (more Copeland please!). If they can win the physical battle keep the pace slow and disallow the Clippers offense from getting into a rhythm, there’s no reason why they can’t win this game.
Clippers Win If – Los Angeles should win rather easily if they can jump out to an early, sizable lead. A quick deficit would crush the Knicks already downed spirits, especially if they can execute on some of their usual momentum changing, highlight reel plays. These are two of the deepest teams in the league, but with all of New York’s injuries, the Clippers bench will also need to be the difference maker in order to get the win.