The Orlando Magic won all three games of their west coast road trip, defeating the Sacramento Kings, Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors. They will look to make it a perfect 4-0 on their road trip when they take on the New York Knicks Monday afternoon. The Magic are now 8-3, good for first place in the Southeast Division.
The Knicks, on the other hand, have really struggled, getting blown out in their last two games, a 94-83 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies and a 104-92 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Knicks had previously won four in a row after a 2-4 start.
The Magic enter the game ranked first in offensive efficiency (106.8), 21st in defensive efficiency (101.7) and 25th in pace (91.9). The Knicks are 23rd in offense (97.4), eighth in defense (98.1) and fifth in pace (96.4).
Tip-off from Madison Square Garden in New York, New York is scheduled for 1:00 pm EST. The game will be shown locally by Sun Sports.
As always, if you can’t watch the game, you can listen on the radio – in English on AM 580 WDBO and in Spanish on AM 1270 WRLZ.
The officials for this afternoon’s games are Derrick Stafford, JT Orr and Violet Palmer.
The Line: Orlando -2.0 (194u)
New York Knicks
*Carmelo Anthony missed the Knicks loss to the Thunder Saturday night due to his ankle injury. If he can’t go again, Bill Walker will start in his place.
**Jason Richardson bruised a bone in his left knee. He’s listed as day-to-day but is unlikely to play in Monday’s game.
The Orlando Magic are on the road for the fourth straight, but they should be well-rested, having not played since Thursday. The Knicks, on the other hand, were in Oklahoma City to play one of the league’s elite teams in the Oklahoma City Thunder Saturday night.
The Magic will likely be without Jason Richardson, meaning J.J. Redick will have to fill Richardson’s minutes while Von Wafer gets Redick’s minutes. The two combined for 21 points, six assists and five rebounds Thursday when Richardson played just 20 minutes. Van Gundy used Redick and Wafer together down the stretch Thursday and that’s something he’ll certainly be able to do again if Camerlo Anthony does indeed miss the game. Hedo Turkoglu shifts to power forward when Van Gundy plays two shooting guards late in games.
The Knicks have really struggled in the back court, benching the two guards that started the season (Toney Douglas, Landry Fields) in favor of 13-year veteran Mike Bibby and rookie Iman Shumpert. Orlando’s guards need to take advantage of these matchups, especially Jameer Nelson going up against New York’s point guards.
Turkoglu has played extremely well and had another big performance Thursday, scoring 20 points and dishing out nine assists. He’s going to have a big height advantage over Bill Walker if he has to start for the Knicks and should be able to have success against Carmelo Anthony if he is indeed matched up with him.
The Knicks have built their team around Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire. Stoudemire’s numbers are down and he’s been extremely inefficient. He’s averaging just 18.7 points per game and his effective field goal percentage is just 42.6%. Stoudemire’s talents are still well-documented and he could prevent Van Gundy from using his Dwight Howard/Turkoglu/Wafer/Redick/Nelson lineup. Clearly, Ryan Anderson is going to be overmatched defensively, so we may see more of Glen Davis.
The Knicks brought in Tyson Chandler after he helped the Mavericks win a title last year to sure up their defense. Chandler’s been pretty good. I’m sure the Knicks would like to see him consistently put up a double-double (he’s close now, averaging 10.6 points and 9.0 rebounds per game). He doesn’t need shots (4.0 shots per game) and takes good shots when he gets the ball (he’s shooting 70.8% from the field). He’s an excellent defensive player so it will be a nice challenge for Howard. Howard should be able to get the best of Chandler offensively and will be able to roam a little more defensively because of Chandler’s limited offensive skills.
This is a very interesting matchup between two teams who are projected to be in that 3-4-5 range come playoff time (Orlando’s currently fourth while New York is seventh). The Magic probably gained a lot of confidence over their road trip so this game is probably more important for the Knicks, who haven’t been competitive in their last two outings.
(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, ESPN Florida’s Magic Insider (http://ESPNFlorida.com) and is the co-host of the ESPNFlorida.com Insiders Show Sunday mornings at 10:00 am EST. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him onTwitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here)
Tags: Amar'e Stoudemire Carmelo Anthony Chris Duhon Dwight Howard Glen Davis Hedo Turkoglu Iman Shumpert J.j. Redick Jameer Nelson Jason Richardson Landry Fields Larry Hughes Mike Dantoni New York Knicks Orlando Magic Otis Smith Quentin Richardson Ryan Anderson Stan Van Gundy Toney Douglas Tyson Chandler Von Wafer