Happy New Year everyone.
The Knicks host Blazers in what should be Amar’e Stoudemire‘s season debut, and Carmelo Anthony’s return from a knee sprain. What a way to start the new year. Just about everyone here has been wondering, speculating, and predicting what Stoudemire’s return could mean, and now we get to see it.
The Blazers aren’t a strong road team (4-10), or a strong defensive team (22nd in Drtg at 107.6). They do however feature a young, athletic front court led by Aldridge and Hickson. I am interested in how Stoudemire will perform against that front court duo. Will he force the issue, or will he pick his spots?
A good amount has already been said about the expected negative impact Stoudemire will have on the Knicks’s defense, but really could it get much worse of late, especially in the back court? If the Knicks don’t do a better job defending the three, and cutting down dribble penetration, Stoudemire’s defense will be the least of our concerns. The good news is that the Blazer back court isn’t very strong. Rookie Damian Lillard has struggled in recent road games, and the Blazers are one of the NBA least effective teams from deep. According to ESPN’s stat department, the Blazers shot a league worst 30.4% from deep in December.