Knicks Look to Continue Tank Effort Against Pistons at Home
Back from the West Coast, New York activates Carmelo after missing the last two games
After a largely successful (or unsuccessful, depending on how you want to perceive it) West Coast road trip, the New York Knicks (27–46) return to Madison Square Garden to face off against the Detroit Pistons (35–39), hoping to continue their fall in the standings.
The Pistons are coming off of a 115–87 loss against the Orlando Magic, compounding their already dismal road record of 11–25. The Knicks will also be coming off of a loss (what’s new?), having lost 106–98 to the San Antonio Spurs to split the season series.
This game will round off the Pistons road trip that currently leaves them one game behind of the eighth place Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference standings going into this match up. The Knicks, on the other hand, currently possess the fourth worst record in the NBA and should be looking to drop that further prior to the season ending.
Currently, the season series between these two teams favors the Pistons who have won two of the three games the two have previously played.
One of the most interesting player matchups that this game should have is between two, young rebounders in Andre Drummond of the Pistons and Willy Hernangómez of the Knicks. Coming off of a career high 24 points (11-of-16 shooting) against the Spurs, Hernangómez has proven to be one of the few bright spots for a dismal Knicks side, with his rebounding proving to be impactful. Averaging 17.4 minutes per game, Willy has racked up 6.8 rebounds per game, and with the starting spot his, barring injuries, for the remainder of the season, battles against established big men such as Drummond will go a long way in determining his credentials to start next season.
“He’s just battling — hitting guys,” Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek said, per the NY Post. “He was trying to make moves but not have the contact. Now he doesn’t care. He’ll put his shoulder into you. His moves inside are slowing down.”
Let’s look at what gets Knicks fans out of bed during this dismal seasontheknickswall.com
From a defensive standpoint, the Knicks will be tasked with defending a multitude of the Pistons options in their well versed offense. With Tobias Harris, Marcus Morris, Reggie Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Drummond all fit to play, all five of the Pistons starters average over 10 points per game, a defensive assignment that should worry Knicks fans. Pinpointing one specific scoring threat, Tobias Harris should pose a challenge for Anthony on the perimeter, proving to be one of the most efficient scorers in the Eastern Conference this season with a 48.5 percent field-goal percentage on an average of 13 field-goal attempts a game (via BBall_Ref). Harris went off for 28 points the last time the two teams met.
From an injury perspective, Joakim Noah remains out, but should return to practice after his arthroscopic knee surgery in the coming days prior to serving his 20 game suspension, while Carmelo Anthony was held out of the team’s last two games, but is expected to make a return tonight. Lance Thomas was ruled out of the Knicks’ game against the Spurs and will sit again with his hip injury tonight.
Game time is at 7:30pm EST, folks.
UPDATE: 7:10pm ET.
Reggie Jackson is out for the Pistons (via Mark Champion).
— Ankit Mehra, site writer