(Just kidding. The Knicks aren’t ‘America’s Team’.)
What to Watch For: Bucks
Larry Drew has constantly adapted his lineups to match what his opponent does. Instead of forcing them to react to him, he reacts to them. Given his lack of roster firepower, perhaps that’s not the worst strategy. In the past two weeks, he has gone big against Detroit ginormous front court and small against Orlando’s three-guard lineup. Now he has to decide what to do with New York.
The Knicks will likely start J.R Smith at small forward and Carmelo Anthony at power forward. If Drew uses his normal starting lineup, that would leave Ersan Ilyasova guarding the NBA’s second-highest scorer out on the perimeter.
I don’t think Drew or Ilyasova would like that very much.
What to Watch For: Knicks
If the playoffs started today, the Knicks would not be in them. They trail the 8th-seeded Bobcats by 1.0 game and the 9th-seeded Pistons by 0.5 games in the standings.
The Knicks have diligently tried to be a decent team in a woeful conference. So far, they have failed.
Defenders of the Knicks may point to injuries to Tyson Chandler and others, but the team is 9-14 when Chandler plays and 10-14 when he doesn’t. The Knicks just aren’t that good.
Time – 7:00 p.m. CST
TV – FS Wisconsin
Radio – 620 WTMJ
Bucks: John Henson (wrist; doubtful), O.J. Mayo (illness; listed in pregame notes as ‘questionable’), Ekpe Udoh (ankle; listed in pregame notes as ‘out’), Carlos Delfino (foot surgery; out)
Knicks: Kenyon Martin (sprained left ankle; probable), Amar’e Stoudemire (sprained left ankle/bone bruise; probable), Iman Shumpert (sprained right shoulder; doubtful), Andrea Bargnani (torn left elbow ligament; out)
PG Nate Wolters
SG Brandon Knight
SF Khris Middleton
PF Ersan Ilyasova (see above)
C Larry Sanders
PG Raymond Felton
SG Pablo Prigioni
SF J.R. Smith
PF Carmelo Anthony
C Tyson Chandler
Choose the Form of the Destructor: Carmelo Anthony
In January, Anthony attempted 5.6 three-point shots per game and made a whisker fewer than half of them (49.4%). “Them’s good numbers, folks.”
The Bucks have allowed the league’s second-worst three-point percentage on defense (37.9%) in part because Larry Drew’s scheme constantly has them throwing meek double-teams at mediocre scoring options (low-post guys being guarded by Sanders/Henson/Ilyasova in the post) in favor of leaving decent shooters wide open.
The Bucks’ three-point defensive field-goal percentage bloated to 41.5% during a 1-15 start to 2014. Yuck.
The Bucks won’t be doubling the post with the person whose job it is to guard Anthony. They will, however, need to shore up their approach to defending shooters like Anthony if they want to stay competitive.
On the other hand, the tankerific Bucks may have little to no interest in being good at the moment.