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The Milwaukee Bucks (26-28, 9th in the east) face off against our New York Knicks (19-35, 12th in the east)
At the world famous MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
Tonight the Knicks play their 2nd home game with their new lineup. Coming off a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night they will be looking to redeem themselves against the new-look Bucks. The Knicks new players, Tracy McGrady, Sergio Rodriguez and Eddie House all performed well on their Knicks debut, can they continue this success against the Bucks?
PROJECTED STARTING FIVES
Jennings.......Salmons.......Delfino.....Mbah a Moute.....Bogut
Last week the Knicks were the most active team on the trade market, landing two big deals on deadline day. The moves were focused around dropping players who had no future with the team and shedding salary in preparation for landing a big star in 2010 free agency. However after watching Tracy McGrady's debut performance Donnie Walsh might just feel he's landed one already. McGrady played his first game in 3 months after being exiled from the Rockets in mid December. He came up big with 26 points on 10-17 shooting, 5 assists, 4 rebounds and 1 steal. He showed he still has that killer instinct shooting an efficient .588 FG% and getting to the line 7 times (including three 3 point plays). The atmosphere in Madison Square Garden was electrifying as the New York faithful finally had something to cheer about having sat through 2 months of miserable basketball off the back of a solid December. McGrady sat most of overtime as he was showing signs of fatigue from not playing for such a long time, after the game he said he "didn't want to hurt the team" and "didn't want to be the hero". Well he might not have been the hero but he'll have plenty of opportunities once he's back in shape. The 30 year old, 7 time all star and 2 time scoring champion has suggested he wants to re-sign with the Knicks next year and will do so for a low price as finances are "not an issue" for him.
As well as Tracy McGrady, another one of the Knicks new signings came up huge in the OKC game. Eddie House, blasted by many fans due to his affiliation with long term rivals Boston, came off the bench to give the Knicks a big lift with 24 points on 8 of 14 shooting, including 4 of 8 from behind the arc. Sadly one of those misses was a game-tying effort with 6 seconds on the clock in OT, shot off balance, but alas it wasn't destined to be a fairy tale ending in New York this night. Having said that House proved his detractors wrong and showed he can be an effective go-to guy off the bench as well as providing that veteran locker room presence. Also being an ex-Celtic the guy knows a thing or two about defense, which is a good look for the Knicks having traded away their former defensive expert Jared Jefferies.
Last but not least of the new Knicks, Sergio Rodriguez had a solid showing at PG scoring 5 points and dishing out 6 assists in his 25 minutes on the floor. Maybe not as impressive as McGrady or House but his numbers don't reflect the performance or effort he put out there on the floor. Were it not for a misfiring Harrington he could have racked up a fair few more dimes from his exceptional penetrate-and-kick-out style, something the Knicks have lacked with Chris Duhon at the helm. This guy has great vision and accuracy, and hopefully will see the starting nod over Duhon against the Bucks.
Behind the story of the new look Knicks, regular performer David Lee had another outstanding outing knocking down a team high 30 points and grabbing 10 boards. Lee's finishing around the basket was clinical as usual and his mid range jumper helped to spread the floor and allow Rodriguez space to create off the dribble drive. Today Donnie Walsh suggested the Knicks recent salary shedding moves bode well for David Lee's future with the team, the way he's playing now it's hard to complain about a potential long term contract he might see this summer. Lee has always stayed loyal to the Knicks and quietly but confidently brings his 20-10 stats to the table night in, night out.
The young Knicks Chandler and Gallo had average nights, Chandler shot well for a while but looked flustered when it mattered. He faltered on a few crucial plays which doesn't instill confidence in his play. Hopefully he will pick up a few tips from the new veteran presences in the locker room and start to come out of his shell. Gallinari looked timid on offense, taking only 6 shots for the game. Unfortunately still settling for 4 out of the 6 from behind the arc. He needs to find that aggresiveness he showed in December where he looked like a shining star of the Knicks future. Defensively he was decent, putting in the effort and making Durant work for his points.
Duhon and Harrington were slumping as they have been recently, hopefully Duhon will settle into the backup role better than he has starting. Harrington will be looked upon to be a sixth man type player alongside Eddie House, a role he has shown aptitude in previously.
As for the Bucks, they come into MSG on the back of a 93-88 win at home to the rising Charlotte Bobcats. Rookie Brandon Jennings and the 7 foot Australian Andrew Bogut both had decent nights, with 19 points 5 assists and 18 points 13 rebounds respectively. It was the newcomer John Salmons who turned heads however, adding 19 points of his own and adding 7 assists after a less than stellar season in Chicago. Playing against his former teammate Tyrus Thomas he looked comfortable within the Bucks offense.
Will the Knicks still regret passing on "BJ" after using 8th pick Jordan Hill to dump 9 million in salary and acquiring a healthy looking T-Mac? That's a question that will have to wait til July for an accurate answer. The explosive rookie started the season on fire, but started to settle down around the new year and recently has been "slumping" averaging only 12 points 4 assists over his last few games. Tyreke Evans will be smiling about this as he continues his dominating form for the Kings averaging a cool 20-5-5 for his rookie season, he looks a lock for Rookie of the Year award.
This game will be the third of the season between up-and-coming coach Scott Skiles and "veteran player leader" Mike "No-D'antoni". The Knicks players will hope to go into the final minutes with a comfortable lead so it can't be squandered by Mike's lack of play-creating knowledge down the stretch. Knicks fans will just be hoping newcomers T-Mac and Eddie House can avoid clashing with our stubborn head coach, but as long as they don't sulk under a head-towel or shoot a 3 at their own basket they should be safe.
The Knicks have an outside chance of seeing playoffs this season if the new-look team can gel quickly. With the veteran leadership of T-Mac and House alongside young guns Chandler and Gallo and the experience of Lee there's even a shot of getting through the first round (unlikely but possible!)... They have to start now against our Eastern Conference rivals.
STARTING FIVE MATCHUPS
Sergio Rodriguez (C+) VS Brandon Jennings (B)
Sergio is new to the team but will look to break out after a slightly better than average performance last game.
Jennings will look to return to his highlight-reel form in front of the MSG crowd.
Tracy McGrady (A) VS John Salmons (C+)
T-Mac will look to continue his dominating form and illustrate an impressive comeback from injury, expect him to put up 20+ easily.
Salmons is inconsistent at best, a 15 point performance would be good for his standards.
Wilson Chandler (B-) VS Carlos Delfino (C)
Will "The Thrill" Chandler will be trying to continue his decent play, hopefully he won't try to do too much, when he plays within himself he can be a force.
Delfino is your average guard/forward, don't expect to see anything special from him this game.
Danilo Gallinari (B-) VS Luc Mbah a Moute (B)
Gallo should try to get some good looks this game, and not force the three too much. Hopefully he will continue putting in the defensive hustle that converts to points on the other end.
Mbah a Moute is an efficient player up and down, takes good looks and puts in the effort on the defensive end, could frustrate The Big ****.
David Lee (A) VS Andrew Bogut (B)
Lee will be trying to post another 20/10 performance, never intimidated by going up against a 7 footer you can look for more of the same this game.
Bogut is decent but inefficient, good shotblocker and rebounder but not great in the post or at the line.
The Milwaukee Fuglies
The Knicks City Hotties!... er I mean Dancers
That's right, the Milwaukee Bucks have 3 of the ugliest white guys in the NBA right now, who probably haven't had a good lay for several weeks. It will be down to our hot ass babes shaking their asses under the basket to distract them. Good luck hotties!
Bucks 85 - Knicks 95
It's got to be a Knicks win tonight, after last games overtime heartbreaker we are going to come out hungrier than ever looking to pay back the Bucks for the 2 losses they handed us earlier in the season. Overall we have a better roster now, our only downfall is crappy coaching and off-form players. GO KNICKS!
Hope you enjoyed this game thread, and let's all hope we kick Milwaukee's crotch! :gony: