Update: The Knicks will reportedly start JR Smith (the 2012-2013 6th man of the Year award winner) for tonight’s game.
Date: November 13, 2013
Tip-Off Time: 8:00 PM ET
TV Channel: ESPN
Radio: 92.9 FM (Atlanta Flagship), Atlanta Hawks Radio Network Affiliates
Live Stream: Watch ESPN (click here)
Look, a nationally televised game! The Hawks are set to host the New York Knicks on Wednesday night, and if the ESPN audience doesn’t excite you, there are several additional storylines to this one.
First, Knicks owner James Dolan has famously guaranteed a victory in this game, and that brings a certain amount of national exposure. Dolan is an “interesting character” (I’ll be nice about this), so no one is taking him too seriously, but his antics have certainly shed light on the game.
In addition to that, former Hawks head coach Mike Woodson patrols the sidelines for the Knicks, and he has come under a good deal of heat in the early going. New York has begun the season with a 2-4 record, and they were blown out of their own building (by 31 points) by the Spurs on Sunday. I don’t believe that Woodson’s job security rests on the outcome of Wednesday’s game, but with Dolan’s guarantee combined with the recent ugliness, it certainly matters more than a little bit.
On the court, the match-ups are intriguing. Carmelo Anthony is the centerpiece of everything the Knicks do, and this is the first opportunity for DeMarre Carroll to really utilize his “stopper” capability against an absolutely elite scorer. Anthony is averaging “just” 23.2 points per game this season, but Carroll will have his hands full.
New York is ravaged by injuries at the moment, and the most important one is the absence of All-World defensive center Tyson Chandler. His absence from the paint should really open things up for Al Horford and Paul Millsap, as the Knicks will be playing Andrea Bargnani a lot at center (yikes) and with Amar’e Stoudemire also out for this game, New York will be going small quite a bit.
The other match-up to watch in this game is Jeff Teague against Raymond Felton. Teague has been outstanding at creating shots for others this season, averaging 10.1 assists per game (2nd in the league) and causing pain for opposing defenses. Felton will have all kinds of issues defending Teague (that’s a given), but he’s a devastating option in the pick-and-roll, which is an area that Teague has historically struggled in on the defensive end. This is something to monitor as the game progresses.
On the whole, the Knicks are a bit of a mess right now. They are 25th in offensive efficiency (97.9 points per 100 possessions) and 18th in defensive efficiency (102.2 points per 100), which is a basic recipe for a disastrous record. Throw in Chandler’s absence, and they should be even worse than that defensively, spelling trouble against the Atlanta offense, which currently ranks 5th in the league at 104.1 points per 100 possessions.
Our confidants in Las Vegas have listed the Hawks as a 4-point favorite in this game, meaning that the “experts” think these two teams are fairly even with the home-court nod favoring Atlanta. I like the Hawks in the game, simply because I believe Al Horford and/or Paul Millsap have a field day against this Knicks front line, and the only way New York grabs a surprising win here is if they catch fire from beyond the 3-point arc.
Stay tuned for updates throughout the night, and be sure to follow us on Twitter at @ATLBeatBlog.