Quickie preview today we roll on towards the playoffs, and as expected, Amar’e Stoudemire will not dress. Your opposing starters are Darren Collison, Paul George, Danny Granger, and Roy Hibbert. If current trends continue, the presence of Hibbert likely means a starting nod for Shelden Williams. I’m most interested to see how Chauncey Billups fares against the smaller, quicker Collison; it will be a nice barometer on how capable he’ll be of dealing with Rajon Rondo should the Knicks draw the Celtics in round one. If he can’t handle Collison, we may be that much more likely to see him chasing Allen over hell’s half acre while someone else handles Rondo.
(Aside: this is the best way to guard the Celtics anyway, and I’m surprised at how few teams seem to realize it. The Knicks have given the Celtics tough games under Mike D’Antoni because he has always used Duhon, Douglas, Felton or Billups to chase Allen while a longer defender – usually Jeffries – slacks off Rondo. Most teams use their point guards to play ten feet off Rondo, but then when he penetrates they aren’t long enough to contest him at the rim. (Aside to the aside: this is probably the only thing D’Antoni does defensively that’s better than most of the rest of the league.) Ok, rant over.)
From a seeding perspective, the Knicks need two wins from their final three games to secure the sixth seed. The Celtics play the Heat today (3:30 on ABC) in a matchup of our prospective first-round opponents. The loser of that game would be one game behind the winner in the battle for second, with just two games remaining apiece.
Tonight’s game is on NBA TV if you’re not local. Enjoy the game, and I’ll have a proper recap tonight to make up for this slapdashery.