One of the most entertaining sights of the 2012-2013 season was watching J.R. Smith get punked by Alexey Shved in the Wolves only trip to Madison Square Garden last year…
I confess to being an unabashed hater of the New York Knicks since… before Isaiah Thomas and Stephon Marbury… maybe the post-John Starks, Anthony Mason-era? That’s a pretty long time ago, albeit Allan Houston, Latrell Sprewell and Marcus Camby had some nice moments, but generally — the New York Knicks are to me what fly-over country is to most coasties — less than a sideshow, more of a bore.
Knicks coach Mike Woodson is the perfect coach for Carmelo Anthony. He of the boring, isolation-heavy offense run with Joe Johnson and the Hawks in Atlanta. It’s an offense that is the antithesis of Wolves coach Rick Adelman’s free-flowing, ball movement, player movement system. I realize this makes me sound like a basketball prude who likes to extoll the virtues of the college game, and I do not care.
New York’s probable starting lineup:
PG Raymond Felton
SG Pablo Prigioni
SF Iman Shumpert
PF Carmelo Anthony
C Tyson Chandler
The player exits and acquisitions are always big news in New York. This summer was no different. The Knicks added some (relative) youth by rolling the dice on Andre Bargnani, Metta World Peace and an actual quality player in Beno Udrih while losing ancient Jason Kidd to coaching the other New York team. But the biggest impression you can take from the Knicks lineup is still that they are old and most of them talk a lot of junk. (Kenyon Martin, Felton, Smith…)
Minnesota’s probable starting lineup:
PG Ricky Rubio
SG Kevin Martin
SF Corey Brewer
PF Kevin Love
C Nikola Pekovic
It was interesting, reading Wolves post-game quotes following his successful job hawking OKC’s Kevin Durant, of Brewer guarding ‘Melo. Interesting because ‘Melo doesn’t really play small forward for the Knicks. Kind of like how Derrick Williams doesn’t really “play” small forward for the Wolves — there will have to be some flexing in someone’s lineup — whether New York goes big to match the Wolves or the Wolves match Love against ‘Melo. That second choice is obviously not as appealing to Minnesota.
Last year, Adelman opted to start Andrei Kirilenko to matchup against ‘Melo and he got away with his bully ball all night long and eventually fouled AK out. It’s highly doubtful the Wolves would opt to go small with such a size advantage. The idea of Love and Pek squashing the Knicks long and lean front line of Bargnani, Martin, A’mare Stoudemire (possibly debuting tonight) and possibly even Chandler is probably as enticing to Wolves fans as the thought of Brewer, Dante Cunningham or D-Will trying to guard ‘Melo.
(Or, if you prefer to visualize it — Love/Pek v Chandler/Martin/Bargs > Brew/D-Will/Cunningham v ‘Melo)
The peripherals: Knicks 3-point shooting, officiating offensive fouls committed by Anthony, Rubio/Martin production, will obviously play a factor as well, but the philosophical battle of big ball v small ball will be on tonight in the Garden.