The Knicks have an opportunity to erase the bad taste from Friday's embarrassing loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers out of their mouths when they visit the Atlanta Hawks tonight. The Hawks sit five games ahead of the Knicks for 5th place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 37-25. The Knicks come in at 31-29, having beat the Hawks in the last game between the two teams, 102-90 back on February 16.
Chauncey Billups may be out again for the Knicks, but the Hawks may not be at full strength either. Josh Smith has been injured with a bad knee and has missed the last two Hawks games, which Atlanta has split. Smith is the second leading scorer and rebounder for the Hawks who are led by Joe Johnson's 19 points per game. In four games since joining the Hawks, Kirk hinrich is averaging 10 points a game, but a paltry 2 assists per contest.
The Knicks will one again turn to the offensive duo of Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, but it is the Knicks' defense which continues to plague them. They gave up 119 points to the lowly Cavaliers in Friday's loss, and the Hawks have much better offensive talent than the Cavs. Johnson, Al Horford and Jamal Crawford are better than anyone the Cavs can offer up, and if the Knicks don't give a full effort on defense, they'll probably give up close to 120 points again. It's hard to win consistently when you allow teams to put up that many points every night, and the Knicks will be up against it again tonight.