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Game #45: Bobcats @ Knicks 2-on-3 Preview

Who: New York Knicks vs Charlotte Bobcats

What: NBA Basketball – Knicks Home Game

When: 7:30 PM ET

Where: Live at Madison Square Garden, New York, New York

The Matchup:

Record Offensive
New York 15-27 101.7 (19) 106.1 (27) 92.7 (29)
Charlotte 19-25 98.0 (27) 100.8 (7) 95.0 (21)

Previous Meetings:

11/5/2013 – 102-97 Bobcats (@ NYK)

11/8/2013 – 101-91 Knicks (@ CHA)

1/14/2014 – 108-98 Bobcats (@ CHA)

New York: Amar’e Stoudemire (OUT), Andrea Bargnani (OUT), Metta World Peace (DTD), Kenyon Martin (OUT)
Charlotte: Kemba Walker (OUT), Jeffery Taylor (OUT), Brendan Haywood (OUT)

Starting Lineups

Knicks Bobcats
PG Raymond Felton Ramon Sessions
SG Tim Hardaway Jr. Gerald Henderson
SF Iman Shumpert Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
PF Carmelo Anthony Josh McRoberts
C Tyson Chandler Al Jefferson
6th Man J.R. Smith Anthony Tolliver

3-on-3 TrueHoop Network 1- STATS. The Knicks are allowing their opponent 25.8 trips to the foul line per game – that’s good for 3rd worst in the league. The Bobcats are 8th in the NBA in FTA/game (25.1) + Charlotte is 18-12 this season when they take more FT’s than their opponent. Will the rate in which the ‘Cats get to the charity stripe tonight tell the story to this game?

Spencer: I do believe trips to the foul line for Charlotte will be very telling in this game. To throw another fold to that, it will be very interesting to see if Mike Woodson slides ‘Melo over to PF now that Bargnani is out – If so, this would mean that New York would be going small and likely starting Tim Hardaway Jr. & Iman at SG and SF, respectively. This would be advantage Hendo, going against Hardaway Jr., and a fun matchup to watch between MKG and Shump.

Essentially, I believe there will be two huge stats to watch tonight – FTA and rebounds. It’s always important for Charlotte to get to the line more than there opponent – when they do, they’re 18-12. Also, New York possibly having to go small tonight gives the Bobcats an advantage on the boards, where they’ve struggled lately.

Michael Kaskey-Blomain: I also believe that the Bobcats’ ability to get to the line will play a big role in the game’s outcome, along with their ability to get production in the paint. These two areas go hand-in-hand, because if the ‘Cats are able to get the ball down deep they will draw fouls and get to the line. Charlotte is at its best when it can get to the line (18-12 when they do it more than their opponents), and the Knicks don’t boast the deepest frontcourt. A couple fouls on Tyson Chandler takes them completely out of their game defensively, and Charlotte’s offense should also look to take it at Carmelo Anthony, who may see his fair share of minutes at the four spot. In short, I think the ability to win the battle of paint production, and the Bobcats’ ability to get to the line early and often, will be of central importance to Charlotte tonight.

2- Al Jefferson, Josh McRoberts, Anthony Tolliver & Jannero Pargo have all stepped up big for the Bobcats recently – which guy is the key for Charlotte’s second victory in MSG this season?

Spencer: I’m going to stick with what I pointed out in Wednesday’s preview – If Tolliver & Pargo can get this team 20 points, combined, off the bench then Charlotte is going to have a real good chance at winning games in Kemba’s absence. Wednesday night they got 21.

Michael: I think it will be up to big Al Jefferson to set the tone tonight. If Jefferson can take it to Tyson Chandler and keep him busy, that will open up the court for the rest of the ‘Cats. I would give the Knicks a big dose of Jefferson early on, letting him go to work on the block and in turn opening up the rest of the offense. Big Al has started out strong in recent games, and it will be important for him to do so again against the Knicks. He put up a season-high 35 against the Knicks’ earlier this month, and I will be looking for a similar performance from him again.

3- A win tonight will seal the tie-breaker with New York on the season, put the Knicks 4 games back of the 8th playoff seed and also keep the Bobcats in the final playoff spot for the east. Who ya got?

Spencer: I’ll take Charlotte. This team is playing with a chip on their shoulder without their leader on the floor currently and the Knicks appears, by all accounts, to be a total mess. Not to mention they lost their starting PF Andrea Bargnani to a torn ligament in his elbow during Wednesday night’s loss to the Sixers.

I’m going to go with Charlotte. The Knicks will be hungry for a home win after a let-down against the struggling Sixers on Wednesday, but they have just been playing some bad basketball, and Charlotte hasn’t.  It will be difficult for the Bobcats to contain Carmelo, but their advantage on the inside, especially now with Bargnani out, should give them an advantage. Charlotte has won a couple close games against good teams recently, and should be playing with a little added confidence. The Knicks on the other hand, remain a mess. The Knicks will score some points, but in the end I expect Charlotte to pull it out, as they did earlier in the month.