Houston (23-15) hosts New York (13-21)
|New York Knicks-Offense||98.1||105.4||49.5||15.8||23.7||20.6|
|New York Knicks-Defense||98.1||108.7||51.8||15.2||26.9||20|
Ron Artest will likely miss tonight’s contest while he rests a sprained ankle. Tracy McGrady may be able to play though he has missed time of late with a sore knee. Shane Battier is questionable with a sore knee. Brent Barry missed the previous game dealing with a personal matter. It is unknown whether he will be available tonight.
Gallanari is not likely to see action due to his sore back. Jerome James is out with swelling of the everything, and Roberson is unlikely to see action due to a sprained 3 point jump shot.
What to watch for: Defense.Houston is not an especially strong team on offense. Houston’s pace is in the bottom third of the NBA (89.9, 23rd), Houston’s efficiency (106.8, 16th) and eFG% (48.4, 19th) are right near the league average. This by no means excuses New York from playing defense. Houston has talented offensive players in McGrady, Yao, Alston and New York training camp casualty Von Wafer. So New York needs a strong defensive effort designed to keep Yao out of the paint. New York also needs to stay near the Houston 3 point shooters. Wafer is hitting 43.5% of his 3s (Donnie, Roberson is only hitting 33.8%- I’m just saying).
What to watch for 2: Pace. Tonight Houston plays its sixth game in nine nights and the second of a back-to-back. New York has to really get into its running game and attempt to wear Houston down. If Artest cannot play, Houston will be without its strongest defender. Yao should be somewhat neutralized on defense since New York relies on outside shooting rather than post scoring or drives to the paint.
Furthermore, if the injury report holds up Houston will be pretty thin. The recent schedule, thin roster, and fast pace may tired them down. Run, run, run.
What to watch for 3: Yao. Tall, good footwork, and a soft touch means trouble for New York’s front court. While Jeffries is likely to draw this defensive assignment, I would like to see if Curry can entice Yao into picking up a few fouls in the post. With proper spacing, Lee and Duhon could create trouble for Yao on the pick and roll. If New York can get Yao on the bench, things should be easier for the team on defense.