With the college basketball’s Big East Tournament Final slated to take place in Madison Square Garden Saturday night, the Bucks and Knicks are relegated to a 11:00 CT matinee. You can get to McDonald’s before the breakfast menu ends, scurry home, and watch the tipoff of the Bucks game before the eggs even get cold.
What to Watch For: Bucks
Khris Middleton‘s defensive numbers have taken a turn for the worse in recent weeks. Prior to the All-Star Game, the Bucks had allowed 106.6 points per 100 possessions, a number that took a nice drop to 105.6 with Middleton on the floor.
Since the All-Star Game, the Bucks have made strides on offense, but dipped a bit on defense — to the point where they are allowing 111.9 points per 100 possessions. But instead of getting better with Middleton, it’s gotten worse. With Middleton playing, the Bucks allow 115.0 points per 100 possessions.
Middleton’s flunking the eye test, too, as forwards such as Rudy Gay, Tyreke Evans and Trevor Ariza have posted big games against the Bucks. With Amar’e Stoudemire back in the starting lineup, it will presumably be Middleton’s job to stop Carmelo Anthony.
Another odd twist: Middleton’s defensive rebounding rate has dipped nearly in half, from 13.5% pre-break to 7.9% post-break. Middleton is shouldering more of the load on offense recently, but the Bucks need to be able to count on him on both ends.
What to Watch For: Knicks
Phil Jackson will reportedly be announced as the team’s president on Tuesday. It is entirely possible that a very successful man is successful at his new job, but I would be surprised. The problems are, in no particular order: 1) They’re 26-40 with their current roster in what may be the worst conference in NBA history, 2) their one surefire asset is going to be an unrestricted free agent this summer, 3) they have no picks in the 2014 Draft, 4) they have a meddling owner, 5) they have a lot of bad contracts, 6) Jackson has never had a job in management before, 7) Jackson’s coaching titles came with uber-super-duper-stars Kobe and Jordan, and 8) Jackson doesn’t really want to be in New York full time.
But other than that, things are looking up in New York.
Time – 11 AM CDT
TV – FS Wisconsin
Radio – 620 WTMJ
Bucks: Larry Sanders (fractured right orbital bone; out), Carlos Delfino (right foot surgery; out)
Knicks: Andrea Bargnani (torn elbow ligament; out), Kenyon Martin (sore ankle; out)
PG Nate Wolters
SG Brandon Knight
SF Khris Middleton
PF Ersan Ilyasova
C Zaza Pachulia
PG Raymond Felton
SG J.R. Smith
SF Carmelo Anthony
PF Amar’e Stoudemire
C Tyson Chandler
Choose the Form of the Destroyer: Amar’e Stoudemire
Stoudemire has bounced back in March. Prior to missing New York’s game against Boston, he started 5 of 6 games this month and shot 64.6% from the field. Over the same span, he is averaging 17.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.
If Stoudemire makes two or three successful post moves early on, expect Larry Drew to bring his guards down to double team, opening up a lot of free and easy shots for the perimeter players of the Knicks.