The New York Knicks come into tonight's game off of the biggest win of the Mike D'Antoni era, Sunday's dramatic victory over the Miami Heat. But a stern test lies ahead, as the undersized Knicks will need to contain a red-hot Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic, who are winners of four out of their last five.
Howard has been on a tear. In his past 10 games, he's averaged more than 27 points and 14 rebounds, and as always, commands the paint better than anyone in the league. The Knicks simply aren't constructed to deal with a force like Howard, so they'll try to do what they do best - score - in order to win. But that won't be easy for Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and company as the Magic rank fifth in the NBA in opponent's points-per-game. But if D'Antoni's Knicks have shown anything, it's that they can fill it up against anyone. They'll look to 'Melo, who has started to look more comfortable with each game.
While the Knicks' win Sunday was huge, tonight is a bigger test. Howard is the best center in the league, and it will be important to see how the Knicks' glaring lack of size affects them. New York buckled down and finally showed some defense against Miami, but Miami is a perimeter team with no inside presence, much like the Knicks. The Magic present the Knicks an entirely different challenge, and tonight's game could foreshadow how the Knicks might fare in the playoffs if they run into a team with good size, namely the Celtics or tonight's opponent, the Magic.
Help in the size department appears to be on the way for the Knicks, as Jared Jeffries is expected to sign with the team after clearing waivers. New York opened up room on the roster for Jeffries by buying out Corey Brewer (a mistake) and waiving the injured Kelenna Azubuike.
New York Knicks
@ Orlando Magic
Tuesday, Mar 1, 2011, 7:00 PM EST
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